Meet the 2019 Outstanding IHS Alum Recipient

Jim OttesonThe Institute for Humane Studies is pleased to announce Professor James Otteson as the recipient of our 2019 Charles G. Koch Outstanding IHS Alum Award. Professor Otteson was presented the award at a reception in New York City in June when he showcased his most recent book, Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society.

A renowned economist, Professor Otteson serves as the Thomas W. Smith Presidential Chair in Business Ethics at Wake Forest University. He specializes in political economy, the history of economic thought, Adam Smith, and the moral foundations of capitalism.

We spoke with Professor Otteson, who has partnered with IHS for more than 20 years, about the significance of receiving this award and his prolific history with IHS throughout his academic career.

Q: How did you first become involved with IHS?

Professor Otteson:
I first heard about IHS late in my graduate studies. I was invited to attend a long-weekend discussion on central texts in the classical liberal tradition, which I thought was terrific. Since then I have attended dozens of IHS events, including serving as a discussion leader and faculty member for all levels of IHS events.

IHS’s programs have provided me not only with a more extensive background in and appreciation of the classical liberal tradition, but also an opportunity to meet and get to know hundreds of students and faculty from many disciplines, backgrounds, and interests.

Q: What does it mean to you to be receiving this award?

Professor Otteson:
It is a great honor to receive the IHS alumnus award. Previous awardees include people whom I admire and respect, and from whom I have learned a great deal. It is an honor and privilege to be in their company. 

Q: How has IHS supported you? Have you made any new, impactful connections with other colleagues through our programs?

Professor Otteson:
IHS has connected me with hundreds of students and faculty around the country and has provided me with an extensive network of serious, intelligent, and dedicated scholars and professionals. It has benefited me both professionally and personally, and I would not be where I am today without its support.

Q: Would you recommend IHS’s services and programs to any of your colleagues or peers? And if so, what programs in particular?

Professor Otteson:
Absolutely! Wherever one is on the political or economic spectrum, IHS offers opportunities to examine and interrogate a wide range of perspectives, including perspectives not often encountered on college and university campuses.

Its seminars, conferences, and workshops are excellent, and its support for faculty and speakers provides fantastic opportunities to engage ideas, people, and perspectives on some of the biggest and most important questions.

IHS and its programs offer an almost unique opportunity for faculty and students to pursue our ultimate goal of understanding the nature of, and the institutions that support, a free, prosperous, peaceful, and virtuous society. 

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To learn more about Honorable Business, read our interview with Professor Otteson on the themes of his latest book on the blog section of our website here.

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