Saturday, October 13, 2007

Summer Seminar series: Mises University

The last week of July entering into August and I found myself in the busy Atlanta airport waiting for a ride into Alabama; Auburn, Alabama for the annual Mises University. The event I was impatiently waiting for since I first heard about it a year ago. Mises University is held by the Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama. The weather is hot and sticky, but the beautiful building of the Mises Institute is worth the travel and the summer Alabama weather. You enter in after a short ride from a shuttle or from a brief 15 minute walk from the dorm and you find a gush of air conditioning welcoming you. A few offices when you pass through the front doors, but amazement fills you as you see the extensive library the building holds. Perhaps I am revealing my complete and utter fascination with books, but I knew that this is what I hoped I could have one day.
Was the library that extensive? It filled two rooms looking more like a small public library than a personal collection. If you could not tell, I was impressed and felt almost at home browsing with the other attendees through the book shelves in aw of the books we found.
I will quote their about page to describe their goal:
It is the mission of the Mises Institute to restore a high place for theory in economics and the social sciences, encourage a revival of critical historical research, and draw attention to neglected traditions in Western philosophy. In this cause, the Mises Institute works to advance the Austrian School of economics and the Misesian tradition, and, in application, defends the market economy, private property, sound money, and peaceful international relations, while opposing government intervention as economically and socially destructive.

The question that is perhaps in some readers minds is the same one when they took the poll on the left side; 'What is Austrian Economics?' to which I link to the Mises Institute for their explanation

The first few days of this week long seminar were spent on introducing economics and Austrian thought to those who never had any training in economics. To those who know microeconomics, you will find the first few days somewhat redundant as everyone must participate in these classes, but the following days were filled with excitement. The schedule of classes are released and you pick and choose which event you wish to participate in. Sometimes finding that two great lectures are occurring at once. Between lectures you can find many browsing through the library or the Mises Bookstore.

The evenings at Mises University are spent after dinner with a chance to discuss with fellow students or professors. Refreshments are provided and you find yourself relaxing with a great crowd until late evening. The local area is welcoming allowing for everyone to move to any of the bars nearby.

The lectures are diverse and to add to the incentive of taking notes and understanding the material, Mises University has an oral exam on the final day of the seminar with the chance to win scholarship money. It is free to take the exam therefore all should; there is a written exam first to diminish the amount of test takers in the oral exam.

This is by far one of the most exciting seminars you can attend. Not only for the individuals you will meet and new friendships you will make but for the lectures as well. On a side note, you may not agree with all you hear during the lectures as the Mises Institute is viewed as a group of radical libertarians but stay open minded and you can understand why they hold such views even if you do not agree.

My view, any GMU economic undergraduate student, should attend this event. I give this seminar a 4 out 5 for many reasons. One is the Austrian perspective denied to students in most learning environments. Another reason, the seminar is well planned not only allowing you to choose which lectures you wish to attend but developed so that you want to be there. What do we learn? Choice is everything and at Mises University you are not only taught that but are able to choose for yourself.

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