On January 17-19, 2014, Values & Capitalism hosted its second annual faculty retreat for evangelical professors who teach economics, political science, business, and history. 26 faculty members joined us at the Houstonian Retreat Center in Texas to be inspired with new ideas, and to rest and recharge for the semester’s work ahead. With two academic deans as well as 24 professors, it was a weekend replete with what Dr. Edd Noell of Westmont College described as “great opportunities for interdisciplinary networking and learning.”
In addition to hearing from national experts, faculty members provided feedback about a set of soon-to-be-released V&C instructional resources, including new animated videos, PowerPoint presentations, and classroom materials linked to 13 books in the project’s series.
Among the highlights were:
- Dr. Byron Johnson, director of Baylor Universtity’s Institute for Studies of Religion, offered data-driven insights about the prospects and challenges for faith-based initiatives working with domestic and international prison systems.
- Asking “How does marriage matter for children?,” Dr. Bradford Wilcox, a visiting AEI Scholar and director of the University of Virginia’s National Marriage Project, shared cutting-edge research about the enduring correlation between intact, two-parent families and children’s long-term social and economic mobility.
- Blending free market theory with on-the-ground examples of entrepreneurship, Chris Horst, Hope International’s development director, told firsthand stories about business and enterprise, underscoring the power of for-profit companies to lift individuals and communities out of poverty. Horst is co-author (with Peter Greer) of a forthcoming 2014 monograph, “Entrepreneurship for Human Flourishing.”
- AEI Research Fellow Dr. Michael McShane— author of another 2014 forthcoming monograph, “Education and Opportunity”—offered concrete ways to leverage the power of free market principles in America’s struggling education system, through increased stabilization, liberalization, and innovative institution building. Through education savings accounts and other concrete reforms, parents in the century ahead are likely to see increased choice and competition improving the current K-12 gridlock.
- “Once upon a time,” said Dr. Art Carden, are perhaps the four most inviting words our students can ever hear in the classroom. An assistant professor of Economics at Samford University, Carden suggested that compelling, purposeful stories are perhaps the most powerful tool we can use—especially for conversing more effectively with the “moral gravity” of many progressive narratives today. He is co-authoring (with Deirdre McCloskey) a new book about the importance of virtue in free societies.
- The weekend culminated in a time of worship, led by Assemblies of God Theological Seminary professor Dr. Charlie Self, who provided a biblical perspective—interspersed with Scripture reading, art, and song—on the enduring value of work beyond the church walls.
- Finally, Dr. Mark Hall of George Fox University and Dr. Jennifer Walsh of Azusa Pacific University led a lively discussion about the role of religion at the time of America’s founding, challenging the dominant—and erroneous—historical assumption that most of our founders, if Christians, were also Deists.
Though economics was the most common academic discipline representative, Dr. Abbylin Sellers of APU said, “As a non-economist approaching free enterprise from a political science perspective, the retreat definitely catered to each faculty member regardless of discipline.”
“This group is an invaluable resource,” said Dr. Greg Schaller of Colorado Christin University. “After all Values & Capitalism events I attend, I leave with several new lecture ideas, or additions to existing lectures.”