George Washington Forum News and Events

GWF Events

Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals?

Tuesday, 3 October, 2023

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of Ginny Seung Choi (Mercatus Center)

Ginny Seung Choi (Mercatus Center)

GINNY CHOI  is a Program Director of Academic & Student Programs, a Senior Fellow with the F. A. Hayek Program for Advanced Study in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She holds a PhD in Economics from George Mason University (Fairfax, VA, USA), an MA in Economics from New York University (New York, NY, USA), and a BA in Economics from Emory University (Atlanta, GA, USA). She has also attended the General Course at the London School of Economics and Political Science (London, UK).

Ginny specializes in Austrian and experimental economics, with a particular focus on the moral and social aspects of markets. Do Markets Corrupt Our Morals? (with Virgil Storr), published by Palgrave Macmillan (2019), explores whether or not engaging in market activities is morally corrupting and invites us to reassess the claim that markets corrupt our morals. Her work in political economy has been published in academic journals and other scholarly outlets, including PLOS ONE, Journal of Institutional Economics, Public Choice, and Evolutionary and Institutional Economics Review.

Before joining Mercatus, Ginny was an Assistant Professor of Economics at the Alex G. McKenna School of Business, Economics and Government at Saint Vincent College (Latrobe, PA, USA). Originally from South Korea, she spent most of her formative years in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Saviors vs. Liberators: the Debate on Ending Global Poverty

Monday, 9 October, 2023

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of William Easterly (NYU)

William Easterly (NYU)

WILLIAM EASTERLY is Professor of Economics at New York University and Co-director of the NYU Development Research Institute, which won the 2009 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge in Development Cooperation Award. He is the author of three books: The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor (March 2014), The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good (2006), which won the FA Hayek Award from the Manhattan Institute, and The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists’ Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics (2001).

He has published more than 60 peer-reviewed academic articles, and has written columns and reviews for the New York TimesWall Street JournalFinancial Times, New York Review of Books, and Washington Post. He has served as Co-Editor of the Journal of Development Economics and as Director of the blog Aid Watch. He is a Research Associate of NBER, and senior fellow at BREAD. Foreign Policy Magazine named him among the Top 100 Global Public Intellectuals in 2008 and 2009, and Thomson Reuters listed him as one of Highly Cited Researchers of 2014. He is also the 11th most famous native of Bowling Green, Ohio.

How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

Monday, 19 February, 2024

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of Jared Rubin (Chapman University)

Jared Rubin (Chapman University)

JARED RUBIN is an economic historian interested in the political and religious economies of the Middle East and Western Europe. His research focuses on historical relationships between political and religious institutions and their role in economic development. His book, Rulers, Religion, and Riches: Why the West Got Rich and the Middle East Did Not (Cambridge University Press, 2017) explores the role that Islam and Christianity played in the long-run “reversal of fortunes” between the economies of the Middle East and Western Europe. It was awarded the Douglass North Best Book Award for the best research in institutional and organizational economics published during the previous two years, awarded by the Society of Institutional and Organizational Economics. Rubin’s work has appeared in journals such as Review of Economic Studies, Review of Economics & Statistics, Economic Journal, Management Science and many others. He is the Co-Director of Chapman University’s Institute for the Study of Religion, Economics and Society (IRES) and the President of the Association for the Study of Religion, Economics, and Culture (ASREC). He serves on the editorial boards of Journal of Economic HistoryJournal of Comparative EconomicsExplorations in Economic History and Essays in Economic and Business History. He has been awarded over $1 million in grants from the John Templeton Foundation for his work in the economics of religion. He graduated with a Ph.D. in economics from Stanford University in 2007 and a B.A. from the University of Virginia in 2002.

Business Education, Relationships, and Making the World a Better Place

Wednesday, March 6th, 2024

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of Derek K. Yonai

Derek K. Yonai

Derek K. Yonai is the Peter and Sue Freytag Associate Professor of Economics in the School of Business at Flagler College and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics.

With a focus on the Philosophy of Business and the social aspects of entrepreneurship, Dr. Yonai has led several academic centers including at Campbell University, Florida Southern College, Southern Methodist University, and Emporia State University. His published research discusses the economic role of property rights and the law and his popular writings deal with the importance of economic freedom.

Dr. Yonai earned a Bachelor of Arts in economics from the University of California at Irvine and graduated with honors from Whittier College School of Law. Additionally, he earned a Master of Arts in economics and a Ph.D. from George Mason University.

Beyond Rights and Price: Liberalism with Taste

Tuesday, 23 April, 2024

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of Brianne Wolf

Brianne Wolf

Brianne Wolf is Assistant Professor of Political Theory and Constitutional Democracy and Director of the Political Economy minor at Michigan State University’s James Madison College. Trained in the history of political thought, her research and teaching reflect on questions about the interaction between economics and politics, liberalism, and moral judgment. Each theme relates to a central concern as a scholar: understanding the proper relationship between the individual and society. Dr. Wolf is broadly interested in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, especially the work of the Scottish and French Enlightenment thinkers.

Meaningful Economics

Wednesday, 20 September, 2023

6:00 PM | Baker Center Theater (2nd Floor Baker Center)

Image of Bart J. Wilson (Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University)

Bart J. Wilson (Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy at Chapman University)

BART J. WILSON is a Professor of Economics and Law and the Donald P. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Economics and Law at Chapman University. He is a member of the Economic Science Institute and tenured in the Argyros School of Business and Economics and the Fowler School of Law. In Fall 2016, he co-founded with Jan Osborn (English), Vernon Smith (Economics and Law), and Keith Hankins (Philosophy) the Smith Institute for Political Economy and Philosophy, for which he serves as the director.

Bart has published papers widely in economics and general science journals, including the American Economic Review, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Scientific Reports, and Nature Human Behaviour. His research has been supported with grants from the National Science Foundation, the Federal Trade Commission, and the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics. Bart’s undergraduate teaching supports the Humanomics minor at upper division level and Chapman’s First-Year Foundations Course at the lower division. He also teaches a seminar for law school students on spontaneous order and the law.

Prior to joining the faculty at Chapman, he was an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and before that a Research Scientist at the Economic Science Laboratory at the University of Arizona. He started his professional career as an Economist at the Federal Trade Commission. Bart received his Ph.D. in Economics from the University of Arizona and his B.S. in Economics and Mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He hails from the great State of Wisconsin.

Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Death of Nations

Thursday, 20 April 2023

7:30 PM | Glidden Recital Hall

Image of Ryan Patrick Hanley (Boston College)

Ryan Patrick Hanley (Boston College)

1776 witnessed the publication of two of the great texts of the Enlightenment: Edward Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Adam Smith’s Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.  But what relation might these two landmark texts have to each other?  To now scholars have tended to answer this question by looking to the ways in which Gibbon adopted economic concepts taken from Smith.  Prof. Hanley’s talk looks in the opposite causal direction, and asks what political concerns Smith shared with Gibbon.  In particular, it focuses on Smith’s extensive engagement with Gibbon’s main political concern: diagnosing the causes behind the decline and fall of once-great political powers.  To this end it specifically focuses on three of Smith’s diagnostic case studies – his diagnosis of the causes of the fall of Rome at the hands of the Scythians and Germans, his diagnosis of the fall of the Chinese Ming Dynasty at the hands of the Tartars, and his analysis of the threats posed by both the Scottish Highlanders and the American colonists to the integrity of the British Empire – to present his theory of the fundamental economic and moral causes of national collapse, and to show why indeed Adam Smith, the father of economics, himself believed that “defense is much more important than opulence.”

Ryan Hanley is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Before that he taught at Marquette University and has held fellowships at Yale, Harvard and the University of Chicago. He is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge, 2009); Love’s Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge, 2017); and Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life (Princeton, 2019). His most recent book is The Political Philosophy of Fénelon (Oxford, 2020).

Capitalism and Informality

Friday-Saturday, 14-15 April 2023

8:00 AM-5:00 PM | Baker University Center

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This conference and subsequent special journal issue will examine capitalism and informality. More than a half-century of developmental discourse has portrayed informality as a signal of economic “backwardness”. From the writings of Max Weber to those of Clifford Geertz, Keith Hart, and Alfred Chandler, social scientific theories have suggested that as economies modernize, hierarchical and rationalized forms of economic organization will displace the “unorganized, unincorporated enterprises” and anomic agents of the informal economy. However, contrary to such predictions, informality remains the global norm. The informal economy continues to comprise at least half of all enterprises, a sizable majority of all jobs, and as much as 20 percent of gross domestic product in developed economies and 60 percent in emerging markets.

A recent generation of scholarship has begun to challenge the idea of the informal economy as a “little people’s alternative” — a static realm of simple, disorganized activity that exists outside of history. Studies have shown that, across different societal contexts, participation in the informal economy is driven by opportunity as well as by necessity, informal organizations can also structured and hierarchical, and informal entrepreneurship can play a powerful role in the reshaping of institutions. Scholars have also highlighted the interdependency of formal and informal economies. Informal enterprises and workers continue to supply critical labor, goods, and services that are used across the formal economy and most are intrinsically linked to formal firms. The informal economy is even facilitating the rise of new industries and new economic forms: artificial intelligence systems depend on “ghost laborers” to code the big data from which AI learns; offshore financial centers rely upon informal networks to arrive at understandings of acceptable practices; and sharing economies operate efficiently because of the services of informal middlemen. The informal thus remains inextricably interwoven with even the most modern elements of economies.

This conference will examine the persistence of informal economies and their relationship with economic transformation. It will explore how informal economies have developed complex organizational structures, have co-evolved in tandem with new industries and modes of production, and have shaped the broader economic and social contexts in which they are embedded.

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Two (of the Seven) Deadly Economic Sins

Tuesday, 7 March 2023

7:30 PM | *CHANGE TO VENUE!* Bentley Hall, 124

Image of James Otteson (University of Notre Dame)

James Otteson (University of Notre Dame)

James Otteson is the John T. Ryan Professor of Business Ethics, Rex and Alice A. Martin Faculty Director of the Notre Dame/Deloitte Center for Ethical Leadership at the University of Notre Dame’s Mendoza College of Business. His books include Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (2002), Actual Ethics (2006), Adam Smith (2013), The End of Socialism (2014), The Essential Adam Smith (2018), and Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society (2019). His most recent book is Seven Deadly Economic Sins (Cambridge, 2021). His forthcoming book is Reexamining the Ethics of Wealth Redistribution (with Steven McMullen; Routledge, forthcoming in 2022).

America’s Rivalry with China and Why It’s Vital to Confront Beijing

Wednesday, 22 February 2023

8:00 PM | Galbreath Chapel (College Green)

Image of Elbridge Colby

Elbridge Colby

Elbridge Colby is co-founder and principal of The Marathon Initiative, a policy initiative focused on developing strategies to prepare the United States for an era of sustained great power competition. Previously, Colby was from 2018-2019 the Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security, where he led the Center’s work on defense issues.Before that, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy and Force Development from 2017-2018. In that role, he served as the lead official in the development and rollout of the Department’s preeminent strategic planning guidance, the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS). His most recent book is The Strategy of Denial: American Defense in an Age of Great Power Conflict (2021).