Last spring, Arizona State University’s School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, in partnership with WP Carey School of Business, welcomed Ross Emmett as the new director of the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty. The center is a hub of research and programs dedicated to assessing the contribution of economic freedom to human prosperity and well-being.
Emmett says his vision for the center is not that of a political think tank, but rather of a unity somewhere between academic research and implementation.
Ross Emmett, director of the Center for the Study of Economic Liberty.
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âIf you think of knowledge production as a triangle,â Emmett said, âwith academic research at the top, translating research through public intellectuals in the middle and the different ways of implementing research into public policy. at the bottom, then the center would be somewhere in the space between academic work and the public intellectual role.
Emmett joined ASU from Michigan State University, where he taught political economy, political theory, and constitutional democracy at James Madison College. His particular research interests are in the history of economic thought and, in particular, in the works of Adam Smith, T. Robert Malthus and Frank H. Knight.
By the time he arrived on campus, after adjusting to the lack of snow, Emmett began to plan big plans to rejuvenate the center. In addition to teaching at the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership, Emmett and his team are developing exciting research tools, publications, and a lecture series, starting this fall.
For about a year, the center will focus on the general theme of ‘Perspectives on Economic Freedom’, starting with a series of lectures of the same name. Emmett says the use of the term âeconomic freedomâ is one way of talking about freedom in markets, freedom of individual choice and action, and the rule of law.
“The purpose of the series is to examine the arguments for and against economic freedom, how it corresponds or not to political freedom, and to ask, does one precede the other, or are they companions?
“In these lectures we will explore social and cultural issues around economic freedom as well as political issues related to issues such as trade and job loss, minimum wage, right to work, labor regulation. and professional licenses, âhe said. are all considerations of the potential benefits and costs in a world that accepts economic freedom.
Emmett will kick off the series with a talk on “The Constitution of Innovation,” in which he defines “constitution” not as a set of rules and processes, but as an environment in which systems can operate in an interdependent fashion.
“Americans tend to think of ‘constitutions’ as slips of paper that defend rights and define political processes,” Emmett said. âThe British tradition of constitutional analysis is greener: Winston Churchill compared it to exercise in our bodies working well together. FA Hayek had the British constitutional tradition in mind when he titled the only book that he wrote in America, âThe Constitution of Freedom.â There he argued that economic freedom underpinned economic progress because it created a societal constitution that encouraged Smithian innovation. Hayek feared that we were on. the point of losing that constitutional perspective. For some time, from about 1980 until the last few years, I argued that he was wrong. But perhaps we have cause for concern again. Willful disregard for the Smithian tradition once again threatens to undo a healthy constitution of innovation. “
Emmett’s talk takes place at 4:30 pm on August 23, in the West Lobby, Room 135. RSVP here. The next two events in the series are talks by Tony Gill: “An Economic Defense of Tipping” and “Religious Freedom and Economic Freedom”.