Dr. James Hartley

Dr. James Hartley, a Professor of Economics at Mount Holyoke College, wanted to engage with his students in a more meaningful manner than he could in lecture halls.

For the first time in the fall semester 2015, Prof. Hartley partnered with IHS to facilitate a reading group of six students who challenged themselves to rethink their previously held assumptions about economics, liberty, and society. Because of student demand and IHS’ support through the On-Campus Faculty Partnership, he organized another reading group to discuss Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty.

The reading group gave Prof. Hartley the opportunity to use a foundational text to help students to engage in a conversation about the importance of liberty in society in an informal setting.

College Life, As Explained by Hayek

Students found that the ideas within Hayek’s were applicable to their daily lives. They asked questions like “Do students have an obligation to respect ‘quiet hours’ in the dorm?” or “Do professors have an obligation to warn students of potentially offensive course material?” According to Hartley,

“The students had no idea that they were doing something surprising; they thought they were just having a perfectly normal conversation about life in the college, as if everyone would mention Hayek in talking about such things.” 

These discussions extended beyond the participants of the group. For example, a student who overheard members of the reading group talking about the relationship between liberty and student protests stopped by Prof. Hartley’s office to explore the topic further.

As Prof. Hartley describes it, “Real learning can still take place when people sit around a room and talk, really talk, about the Great Ideas.”

We have more details on how you can partner with us to host a reading group of your own. And learn more about the On-Campus Faculty Partnership in general to discover additional opportunities to host events on your campus.

Already know you want to work with us? Let us know below!

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