From the Director

Mary L. Rigdon at SXSW 2023

The 2022-23 academic year began a new chapter in the history of the Center for the Philosophy of Freedom. Last December, we celebrated Founding Director David Schmidtz for his vision and effort in founding the Freedom Center and put it in a place where it can continue to thrive. Dave has now taken the role of Presidential Chair of Moral Science at West Virginia University while remaining Editor-in-Chief of Social Philosophy & Policy and of course a mentor to all of us. Thank you, Dave.

With the start of this new chapter, Saura Masconale, Associate Director and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science, and I have hit the ground running with a shared vision and commitment to explore the many facets of freedom through interdisciplinary research, educational programs, and public events.  As you will read in this Year in Review, the Freedom Center is making an impact on campus and beyond through ground-breaking research, innovative educational programs, strategic partnerships, and high-profile public events.

Mary L. Rigdon at SXSW 2023

We have addressed major issues like the Great Reshuffling of America’s workforce, gender competitiveness, the fight to achieve equity in sports, and the difference between life under communism and the freedom we value in a democracy. We welcomed some of America’s most accomplished leaders and trailblazing changemakers in finance, human resources, professional sports, media, and government to share their perspectives, connect with the community, and drive progress. And we traveled to Austin, Texas, as part of the University’s Wonder House at SXSW 2023 to highlight my research that offers strategies for closing the persistent gender wage gap.

Freedom means something different to all of us. Understanding and appreciating that is what inspires us to be a resource and a catalyst that helps shape a brighter future.

On behalf of the entire Freedom Center team, please enjoy this Year in Review. Have a great summer, and thank you for your support.

Bear down!

Mary L. Rigdon
Freedom Center Director
Associate Professor, Department of Political Economy and Moral Science

Women’s Equity in Sports: The Fight, the Scars, and the Thrill of Victory – April 5, 2023

Our third Public Discussion Forum, co-sponsored by the American Association of University Women Tucson (AZ) Branch, featured a panel of “literal superheroes,” according to Mary L. Rigdon, who organized the panel with Kathryn Bertine. Adia Barnes, Bertine, AJ Mleczko, Sarah Spain, Kathrine Switzer, and moderator Damien Alameda delivered an event to remember. Through raw and powerful stories mingled with humor and inspiration, their call to action was unmistakable. We have come a long way but still have a long way to go to achieve women’s equity in sports and society. The event generated significant media coverage. Rigdon and the panelists were featured in the Arizona Daily Star, All Sports Tucson, and on KOLD 13 News in Tucson.

The Great Reshuffling: A Perfect Storm or the New Norm? – February 20, 2023

Our second Public Discussion Forum, organized by Saura Masconale, addressed the workforce phenomena known as “The Great Reshuffling”. This panel included Morgan Stanley Chief Legal Officer Eric Grossman, Arizona Coyotes President & CEO Xavier A. Gutierrez, National Review Senior Editor Jay Nordlinger, and University of Arizona Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer Helena A. Rodrigues. They brought a unique perspective highlighting the importance of building and maintaining a great workforce while working to identify the new norm regarding virtual work, team building, and maintaining a strong organizational culture. The panel also generated significant media coverage. Masconale was published in the Arizona Daily Star, Nordlinger wrote about it in his Impromptus column for National Review, and Lo Que Pasa produced a feature Q&A with Rodrigues following the panel.

Mary Rigdon at SXSW 2023

Rigdon Featured at SXSW 2023 on What Motivates Women to Compete – March 12, 2023

Mary Rigdon at SXSW 2023

Mary L. Rigdon gave a compelling talk, Myth Busting: Women, Competitiveness, and Equity, at UArizona’s Wonder House in Austin, Texas, at SXSW 2023. Rigdon’s research, conducted in collaboration with Alessandra Cassar (University of San Francisco, Professor of Economics), explores competitiveness in men and women. Rigdon shared that women are as competitive as men though the motivations differ. Women are more likely to take risks and engage in competitive activities if they’re allowed to share their potential winnings with peers. UArizona News published a preview and Q&A about Rigdon’s appearance at SXSW 2023.

“Women lose more than $513 billion yearly because of the gender wage gap. To close it, we need to better understand why it occurs and persists. With a reward system perceived as a shared one, rather than disproportionately benefitting those in the corporate suite, you can encourage women to exhibit their natural tendency to be competitive. It’s time to change the system, not the women,” Rigdon said during her presentation to a packed house.

Freedom Center Launches Oral History Collection for Use in Arizona Schools featuring Faculty Member Sylwia Cavalcant, Rep. Quang Nguyen, and Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Ben Toma

Rep. Quang Nguyen, Saura Masconale, Mary Rigdon and Speaker Ben Toma at Oral History screening 2023

The Freedom Center’s oral history collection presents first-person accounts of other governing philosophies compared to the United States. Produced in collaboration with the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and approved by the Arizona State Board of Education for use in state schools, they help teachers prepare students to be civically responsible and knowledgeable adults. 

Rep. Quang Nguyen, Saura Masconale, Mary Rigdon and Speaker Ben Toma at Oral History screening 2023

The establishment of an oral history collection was included in Arizona House Bill 2008, sponsored by Rep. Quang Nguyen and cosponsored by former House Majority Leader and now Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives Ben Toma. The law specifically references the Freedom Center to help develop this new educational resource. We interviewed Mesa Community College Residential Faculty Member Sylwia Cavalcant (Poland), Rep. Nguyen (Vietnam) and Speaker Toma and his parents, Ana and Cornel Toma (Romania). The Center hosted a screening with Speaker Toma, Rep. Nguyen, their families, and guests on March 28, 2023, in Phoenix.

Treasurer Kimberly Yee with Rigdon and Masconale 2023

Freedom Center Leaders Meet with Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee

Treasurer Kimberly Yee with Rigdon and Masconale 2023

Mary L. Rigdon and Saura Masconale recently met with Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee in Phoenix to explore partnership opportunities. Financial literacy, teacher education, and the impact of economics on public policy are shared priorities for Treasurer Yee and the Freedom Center. As a result, planning is underway for collaborative outreach and educational events in the coming year.

FC – James E. Rogers College of Law Partnership

The Freedom Center and UArizona James E. Rogers College of Law are collaborating on a variety of academic programs, symposiums, and events that engage elected officials, educators, judges, legal scholars, and legal practitioners to illustrate the interrelationship between law and freedom in society.

Master of Legal Studies, Law & Economics Concentration

Created by Saura Masconale in partnership with the James E. Rogers College of Law, the Law & Economics concentration for the Master of Legal Studies (MLS) is a program designed specifically for students with an interest in public policy, including teachers, public sector professionals, and students pursuing careers working with agencies, governments, or corporations. The program is also the first in the country to offer a dedicated track for elected officials. Concentration courses – developed and taught by Freedom Center Faculty – include Law & Economics, Political Economy, Law, and Experimentation, Law, Economics, and Civic Society, Ethics and Economics of Environmental Policy, and the Ethical Entrepreneur.

Tailored for Legislators: Knowledge of law and economics is critical to public policymaking. The MLS provides an enhanced understanding of law and regulation, economic theory and empirical methods, and ethics to provide state legislators with intellectual and educational resources that will enable them to better serve their constituencies via a more informed approach to policymaking and legislative leadership. The program is quickly gaining momentum – 11 Arizona state legislators have enrolled, three have graduated, and we are receiving regular inquiries from others. 

Supporting Educators: Teaching is one of America’s most important professions, but many educators don’t have enough support. The MLS supports professionals that teach social studies, especially economics and government, strengthening their skills and career opportunities. As a result, 17 teachers from three states across America have enrolled in the program, and seven have earned their MLS degree. 

Collaboration with Premier European Law Schools: Building on the Center’s recent success in providing summer programs in law, economics, and philosophy in partnership with premiere European universities, discussions are underway to establish a dual degree program with universities in Italy, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Israel, France, Germany, India, and Poland.

Saura Masconale

James E. Rogers College of Law and Freedom Center Host REINVENTING THE CANON: Great Torts Cases of the 21st Century

On April 14-15, 2023, the James E. Rogers College of Law and Freedom Center, in partnership with Harvard Law School, University of Oxford Faculty of Law, the American Law Institute, and the Journal of Tort Law, hosted a symposium titled “The Great Torts Cases of the 21st Century: Are Canonical Torts Decisions a Thing of the Past?” The event was a resounding success, bringing together legal scholars, judges, and justices from across America and abroad to explore the most significant tort cases of the 21st century and address the continued importance of contemporary judges in shaping new common law.

The symposium featured a roster of distinguished speakers who brought unique perspectives and insights to the program, engaging in panel discussions on recent common law tort cases and great common law judicial opinions of our time. It is the first in a series of collaborative initiatives between the James E. Rogers College of Law and Freedom Center to engage judges and legal scholars in fruitful discussions on significant issues. 

Saura Masconale welcomed participants, noting that co-sponsoring the Great Tort Cases Symposium was a “natural choice” for the Freedom Center.  “The Center is an incubator for interdisciplinary research and critical thinking about freedom, responsibility, and human behavior. And I think tort law is essential for our liberty – as the framework that safeguards our individual rights and ensure we can all exercise our autonomy without violating the rights and freedoms of others.” Learn More

Spring Training in Phoenix: James E. Rogers College of Law and Freedom Center Host Panel with Major League Baseball General Counsels

Amid the 2023 Cactus League Spring Training season, the James E. Rogers College of Law, Freedom Center, and Sports Lawyers Association partnered to host legal experts from Major League Baseball for a panel discussion and breakout sessions highlighting the wide range of issues that lawyers in professional sports must address. Day-to-day club operations, player contracts, endorsements and marketing deals, international legal issues, reputation management, navigating the COVID-19 pandemic, and pathways to careers in sports law were just a few of the subjects covered during the event, held at the University of Arizona, Phoenix Biomedical Campus.  

Co-organized by Dan B. Dobbs Professor of Law Ellen M. Bublick, Saura Masconale, and Kerry Montaño, Freedom Center Manager, Special Programs, the event saw the attendance of a wide range of participants, including students of the Arizona Law Phoenix Externship Program, Sports and Entertainment Law Society, Business Law Society, and Arizona State Supreme Court Justices. The program included moderated a panel discussion featuring Caleb Jay, Vice President & General Counsel of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Maacah Scott, Assistant General Counsel of the Chicago White Sox, and Dan Martens, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

FC – UA PEMS – USD – Chapman Partnership

The Freedom Center, University of San Diego and Chapman University to Host Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) Undergraduate Summer School in San Diego – June 5-8, 2023

A collaboration with the Freedom Center, the UArizona Department of Political Economy and Moral Science, the University of San Diego’s Center for Ethics, Economics, & Public Policy, and Chapman University’s Smith Institute for Political Economy & Philosophy, this four-day summer school features foundational and topical interdisciplinary courses taught by top-tier faculty. Students will address questions about the nature of citizenship and the role individuals can and must play in making critical decisions facing society. Vernon Smith and David Schmidtz will offer the plenary lecture for the inaugural summer school. 

University of San Diego

This builds on the Freedom Center’s successful experience since 2016 creating partnerships and organizing summer schools and workshops in the United States and across Europe in Italy, France, and Romania.

FC – Cato Institute Partnership

Freedom Center and Cato Institute Sphere Education Initiatives Highlight the Importance of Teachers to Free Speech, Civil Discourse, Economics, and Public Policy

Attended by 75 teachers from Arizona and across America, the Freedom Center and Cato Institute’s Sphere Education Initiatives hosted a two-day summit, Foundations of Civic Culture in Phoenix, with panels of nationally renowned scholars and academics to give educators tools to strengthen their classrooms by creating a culture of free speech, civil discourse and respect for diverse viewpoints. 

Speakers included Allan Carey, Director of Sphere Education Initiatives, Gina Godbehere, retired prosecutor, City of Goodyear, Saura Masconale, Clark Nelly, Senior Vice President for Legal Studies, Cato Institute, Jonathan Rauch, Senior Fellow, Governance Studies, Brookings Institution, John Samples, Vice President, Cato Institute, David Schmidtz, Freedom Center Founding Director, Nadine Strossen, Former President, American Civil Liberties Association, and Robin Palmer, Freedom Center Take Charge Today Marketing Specialist, who hosted a financial literacy breakout session for the participating teachers. 

Freedom Center Roundtable on “Corporations, Activism, and Political Issues”

Addressing an issue of growing societal significance, Saura Masconale and Simone M. Sepe, UArizona Professor of Law and Finance and Freedom Center Affiliated Faculty, organized a roundtable discussion focusing on the rise of corporate engagement and activism on divisive political issues. Berkeley Law Professor Frank Partnoy and University of Cambridge Faculty of Law Professor of Corporate Law Brian R. Cheffins joined Masconale and Sepe to share their perspectives with invited faculty members and graduate students from the Center, the Philosophy Department, the Department of Political Economy and Moral Science, the School of Government and Public Policy and the James E. Rogers College of Law. 

Sir Paul Tucker joins UArizona Scholars to Discuss Global Discord: Values and Power in a Fractured World Order

On December 1, 2022, the Freedom Center hosted Sir Paul Tucker and a distinguished panel of UArizona scholars, including Allen Buchanan and Thomas Christiano, to discuss Tucker’s new book, Global Discord: Values and Power in a Fractured World Order, which addresses today’s unprecedented times and the strategies leaders around the world should take to manage them. Tucker is one of the most notable experts on economic policy. As Deputy Governor at the Bank of England from 2009 to 2013, he was at the center of efforts to contain the financial crisis.

Faculty Research Spotlight

The New Corporate Citizen? Masconale and Sepe Explore the Economic and Democratic Implications of Corporations’ Novel Political Activism

In their latest collaboration, Saura Masconale and Simone Sepe examine the current boom in ESG (“Environment, Social, and Governance”) initiatives by corporations, pointing to an understudied trend. Their article, Citizen Corp. – Corporate Activism and Democracy, published in the in the Washington University Law Review, notes that “Activist corporations” increasingly do what citizens do.

Saura Masconale

They now engage with focal points of moral and political disagreement, from gun control to immigration, climate change, reproductive rights, and more. In a nutshell, Masconale and Sepe argue that corporate activism might be incompatible with the rules of democratic engagement, as this activism gives a few extraordinarily large asset managers, with controlling interests in most large companies, extraordinary power to influence the adjudication of divisive societal issues, not just within corporations, but in society at large.  Learn More & Read Article.

Enforcement of Morality and the Importance of Autonomy in Upcoming Books

Freedom Center Philosopher and member of the of the Politics, Philosophy, Economics, and Law Program, Steven Wall tackles two weighty subjects: the enforcement of morality and autonomy as an ideal of the good. Both issues are important and have real-world applications. He provided two book chapters from forthcoming publications summarized below as a preview. Learn More

Steve Wall

Johanna Jauernig and Kaveh Pourvand

Post-Doc Research Spotlight

Johanna Jauernig and Kaveh Pourvand

Freedom Center Post-Doctoral Fellows Johanna Jauernig and Kaveh Pourvand support academic and educational initiatives while continuing their research. Johanna investigates attitudes towards markets and technology with an experimental approach. Kaveh is a political theorist covering contemporary liberal thought, collective political agency, the ideal/non-ideal theory distinction within political philosophy, and distributive justice. Their work is interesting, meaningful, and consistent with the Center’s interdisciplinary focus on the many facets of freedom. Learn More

The Freedom Center welcomes Post-Doctoral Fellow David Clark, who begins Fall 2023.

Visiting Fellow Research Spotlight

The Freedom Center Visiting Fellows program welcomes distinguished scholars for a short yet comprehensive stay of 1 to 6 weeks in an academic year. The program provides maximum engagement with the University community, particularly graduate students and faculty. Fellows give a talk in our “Current Research Workshop” and guest lecture in courses taught in Political Economy & Moral Science, Philosophy, and the Master of Legal Studies, Law & Economics concentration.

Kit Wellman

Kit Wellman and Bart Wilson

Christopher Heath (Kit) Wellman, Professor of Philosophy at Washington University in St. Louis, recently finished a four-week visit at the Freedom Center.  While in residence, Wellman was doing research for a book project on forfeiture. Learn More

Bart J. Wilson

Bart J. Wilson, Professor of Economics and Law at Chapman University, took advantage of the opportunity to be Freedom Center Visiting Fellow, noting that the program provides him with ample time to focus, conduct research, and write. He is working on a new book, and the Freedom Center will host a book manuscript workshop on it sometime in the Fall. Learn More

Kit Wellman and Bart Wilson

Freedom Center Talks

Freedom Center Talks are scholarly presentations by faculty across the University of Arizona campus and from other institutions that foster innovation, collaboration, and interdisciplinary discussion.

Spring 2023

Fall 2022

Voices of Culture Lecture Series

Voices of Culture is a unique collaboration between the fields of philosophy and fine arts and an inclusive broad-based academic forum that values diversity of thought, openness, and insight. The program sponsored lectures, performances, and interdisciplinary collaborations, and events were organized within a performative space so that speakers and attendees felt enriched as part of a cultural experience. 

Take Charge Today

Take Charge Today is celebrating 26 years of providing teachers around the country with free personal financial education programming and is proud to be part of the Freedom Center’s many programs. Take Charge Today’s lessons impact tens of thousands of students around the country every school year as 40,000+ educators use our curriculum.  

New this year to Take Charge Today’s repository of lessons is a unit for teaching principles of entrepreneurship. These five new lesson plan topics include:

  • Types of Business Ownership
  • Business & Personal Ethics
  • Defining the Roles of Social Entrepreneurs & Social Responsibility
  • Consumer Decisions & Markets
  • Recognizing Leaders & Managers

In addition to updating current lessons and developing new pedagogy strategies, Take Charge Today staff was busy giving both virtual and in-person teacher training workshops along with networking and exhibiting at financial literacy events and conferences within Arizona and all across the country. Fourteen professional development training sessions were given in addition to presentations to students at two Arizona DECA events. Staff also exhibited at two large-scale Arizona conferences and two national conferences. State-specific training events were delivered  in Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, Ohio and Washington. For Maryland alone, we delivered four virtual webinars to the 60 Prince George’s County teachers who taught Take Charge Today lessons to their 8,000 students for the 2022-2023 school year.


The Center supports prominent journals and their corresponding workshops, including Social Philosophy & Policy, Oxford Studies in Political Philosophy, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics, Politics, Philosophy & Economics, and Public Affairs Quarterly.

Freedom Center Alumni Update

  • Graduate Research Assistant Aliya Dewey (Ph.D. 2023) has accepted a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship with Vincent C. Müller in the Centre for Philosophy & Artificial Intelligence Research (PAIR) at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg in Germany.  
  • Graduate Research Assistant Max Kramer (Ph.D. 2023) has accepted a three-year postdoctoral research fellowship with the UCLA Health Ethics Center.  
  • Mario I. Juarez-Garcia (Ph.D. 2021), currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of philosophy at the University of San Diego will join the Philosophy Department at the Murphy Institute at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor. 
  • Alex Schaefer (Ph.D. 2021), currently a postdoctoral research fellow at New York University’s Classical Liberal Institute, has taken a tenure-track position at the University of Buffalo, Philosophy, Politics, and Ethics Program
  • Lucia Schwarz (Ph.D. 2021), currently a Teaching Assistant Professor in the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics Program at UNC Chapel Hill, will join the Philosophy Department at the Murphy Institute at Tulane University as an Assistant Professor. 
  • Bjorn Sether Wastvedt (Ph.D. 2021), currently a University Lecturer at the University of Bergen Institute for Philosophy and First Semester Studies, has accepted a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at Alameda da Universidade in Lisbon, Portugal. 
  • Jacob Barrett (Ph.D. 2020), currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Global Priorities Institute at the University of Oxford, will join Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Political Science. 
  • Sarah Raskoff (Ph.D. 2018), currently a research fellow at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, will join Vanderbilt University as an Assistant Professor of Philosophy.