From the Director

Welcome to the fall edition of the Freedom Center newsletter, featuring coverage of our summer activities and an overview of the programs and events scheduled for the 2023-2024 Academic Year. Once again, we have a diverse array of events planned, ranging from academic talks and book presentations to various public outreach programs. With the support of local and international partners, the faculty and staff at the Freedom Center remain dedicated to the promotion of diverse viewpoints and upholding excellence in both interdisciplinary research and student training.

As we enter our new school year, I’d like to share appreciation for my colleague, Saura Masconale, Freedom Center Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Political Economy and Moral Science, and her commitment to advancing research, teaching, and academic programming at the Center. Dr. Masconale worked steadily throughout the summer to further our mission at home and abroad. She is a primary driver of so much that we do at the Freedom Center, and I couldn’t be more grateful to collaborate with her.

I hope you will enjoy reading about our active summer, learn about our new and returning faculty members and the exceptional achievements of both our faculty and students.

Lastly, I want to welcome back all Wildcats – students, faculty, alumni, and supporters. As you navigate the academic year, I encourage you to embrace freedom and honor diversity. Together, we are building a stronger community, on campus and far beyond.

Have a great year, and Bear Down!

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

P.S. In addition to participating in Freedom Center programs and events, I encourage you to stay up to date with our activities and news by following us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Mary L. Rigdon

Freedom Center and State Treasurer Team Up to Honor Teaching Excellence

2023 AZ Award for Excellence in Teaching Financial Literacy Winners.

Arizona State Treasurer Kimberly Yee (center) is partnering with the Freedom Center to reward outstanding teachers who are passionate about providing financial literacy education for K-12 students. This summer, Yee joined FC Director Mary Rigdon (left) and FC Associate Director Saura Masconale (right) to announce the creation of the Arizona Award for Excellence in Teaching Financial Literacy. Through a statewide nomination process, three exceptional classroom teachers have been chosen to receive the award: Claudia Brown-Morgan, Gisell Astrid Romero, and Jim Welty.

Each winning teacher receives a full-tuition scholarship for the Master of Legal Studies in Law & Economics program, created by the Freedom Center in partnership with the UArizona James E. Rogers College of Law. The awards were presented in a special ceremony at the Arizona State Capitol on September 28, 2023.

2023 AZ Award for Excellence in Teaching Financial Literacy Winners.
PPEL Summer School 2023 students and faculty

Templeton Grant Will Fund PPEL Undergraduate Summer School in San Diego

PPEL Summer School 2023 students and faculty

In a unique partnership with the University of San Diego’s Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy, and Chapman University’s Smith Institute for Political Economy & Philosophy, UA Freedom Center launched the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law Undergraduate Summer School this June. The inaugural program welcomed 30 undergraduate students—representing 20 different universities and three nations—to the University of San Diego for the four-day intensive curriculum focused on the practical problems of organizing and running human society.

The undergraduate program was developed by FC Director Mary Rigdon and FC Associate Director Saura Masconale and fully aligns with the Freedom Center’s mission: to strengthen and refine students’ critical thinking skills while cultivating a level of intellectual humility that enables them to learn from others’ perspectives, even when viewpoints differ from their own. In addition to recognizing the generosity of the Templeton Foundation, which will provide funds to operate the summer school for three more years, Drs. Rigdon and Masconale thank the top-tier faculty members from each of the three universities for contributing to rigorous instruction and discussion. “We also acknowledge the extraordinary students who helped make the inaugural summer school a great success,” they said.

Welcoming Our Visiting Fellows

2023-24 Visiting Fellows

Established by FC Director Mary Rigdon, the Freedom Center Visiting Fellows Program invites distinguished scholars from around the world to engage with the UA community, particularly graduate students and faculty. During their one- to six-week stay, visiting fellows provide presentations and guest lectures in UA’s departments of Political Economy & Moral Science, Philosophy, and the Master of Legal Studies, Law & Economics.

The Freedom Center welcomes the following scholars to campus for the 2023-2024 academic year (clockw667085ise, above):

  • Dr. Sanford Ikeda, Professor of Economics, State University of New York, Purchase College;
  • Dr. Jennifer Pate, Professor of Economics, Loyola Marymount University;
  • Dr. Laura Razzolini, Professor of Economics, University of Alabama;
  • Dr. Bart Wilson, Professor of Economics and Law, Endowed Chair, Chapman University;
  • Dr. James Konow, Professor of Economics, Loyola Marymount University; and,
  • Dr. Kit Wellman, Professor of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis.  

In addition to dynamic engagement with faculty and students, Fellows are encouraged to conduct research, write, and participate in Freedom Center events. More information on the Visiting Fellows and their dates on campus.

2023-24 Visiting Fellows

FC Scholars Showcased at ‘Summer University 2023’ in France

Saura Masconale and David Schmidtz

Recognizing that world leaders are constantly seeking ways to unravel crises—be they environmental, economical, militaristic, or a global pandemic—the Institute for Economic Studies (IES) Europe organized the “Summer University 2023” in Aix-en-Provence, France, seeking to identify best practices to prepare holistically for the future. In addition to co-sponsoring the conference with the Institute for Research in Economic and Fiscal Issues, the Freedom Center was aptly represented by three prominent scholars.

Saura Masconale, Freedom Center Associate Director and Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Economy & Moral Science, and Simone Sepe, Freedom Center Faculty and Chester H. Smith Professor of Law & Finance at the UArizona James E. Rogers College of Law, delivered a joint lecture: “Moral Capitalism, Ethical Shareholderism, and Social Cohesion.” The three-day conference also featured Freedom Center Founding Director David Schmidtz, who delivered a keynote speech on “Purpose in Crisis.”  The summer program, which has been hosted at the University of Aix-en-Provence since 1978, brought together 20 eminent researchers from around the world and more than 100 students.

Saura Masconale and David Schmidtz
Simone Sepe

Dr. Sepe Headlines in Rome and Paris

Simone Sepe

Dr. Simone Sepe, Freedom Center Faculty and Chester H. Smith Professor of Law & Finance at the UArizona James E. Rogers College of Law, was among the distinguished faculty members from around the world participating in the Markets and Government: A Theoretical Appraisal summer program in Villa Mondragone, Rome, June 20-23, 2023.  Dr. Sepe’s lecture, “Normative Ethics and Economic Theory (Economics as a Theory of Everything),” was highlighted in the summer school’s four-day curriculum, which focused on general equilibrium theory, theory of incentives, public economics, and political philosophy. Read more > Dr. Sepe also collaborated with Alan Schwartz, Sterling Professor at the Yale Law School and School of Management, to teach a seminar, Methods of Law & Finance, organized by The Rules for Growth Institute (Droit & Croissance) in Paris, June 26-27, 2023. Limited to just 25 selected Ph.D. students (representing 19 different European universities), the intensive two-day event in Paris was designed to introduce attendees to the latest theoretical and empirical studies in the law and finance of corporate governance

FC Talk Opens Doors to Internship Opportunity for Two UA PPEL Students

Inspired by a January 2023 Freedom Center Talk, two UA students participated in The Fund for American Studies (TFAS) Washington, D.C. Academic Internship Program this summer, gaining invaluable experience to kickstart their careers.

While studying for their bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL), senior Collin Parks and sophomore Andrew Pongrátz worked closely with Dr. Rigdon as research assistants in her Decision and Economics Science Laboratory before attending the Freedom Center Talk, which featured Anne Rathbone Bradley, the George and Sally Mayer Fellow for Economic Education who also serves as TFAS Vice President of Academic Affairs. Dr. Bradley was invited by FC Director Mary Rigdon and FC Associate Director Saura Masconale to introduce the internship program to UA students in addition to providing a stimulating presentation titled “Human Flourishing and Economic Freedom.”

Through the TFAS summer program, students earn academic credits along with more than 250 hours of professional experience, leading them to greater understanding of career opportunities. “We’re very grateful for our partnership with the Freedom Center and look forward to continuing to work together to provide opportunities for students in the future,” said Laura Cusack, Director of the TFAS Public Policy & Economics Program.

Michael McKenna

Michael McKenna, Professor of Philosophy, rejoins as core faculty of the Freedom Center. Dr. McKenna is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy who writes and teaches primarily on the related topics of free will and moral responsibility, but more generally in issues of metaphysics, ethics, action theory, and philosophical psychology. He has authored three books: Conversation and Responsibility (OUP, 2012); Free Will: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge, 2016), coauthored with Derk Pereboom (Cornell, Philosophy); and a new, forthcoming book, Responsibility and Desert  (OUP). He is currently writing a book on the metaphysics of free will, tentatively titled Scrutinizing Source Compatibilism.

Hrishikesh Joshi

Hrishikesh Joshi, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, joins as core faculty of the Freedom Center. Dr. Joshi is an Assistant Professor in the UArizona Department of Philosophy and Faculty in the Freedom Center. Most recently, he worked at Bowling Green State University, and previously was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. His research focuses on normative issues at the intersection of philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE). He also works on meta-ethics and ethical theory.

David J. Clark

David J. Clark joins the Freedom Center as a Postdoctoral Research Associate. Dr. Clark brings a wealth of knowledge and diverse life experiences to his position. While he labels his life a “fun mess,” his path to Tucson has been shaped by unique experiences that fostered a passion for philosophy and the study of critical issues affecting individuals and a democratic society. His educational journey began in his home state at the University of Connecticut, followed by stops at West Point and Biola University in California. While studying at West Point, a poignant class on the ethics of war inspired him to pursue philosophy.

Sept. 30-Oct. 12, 2023: Sarah Spain—Journalist in Residence

Sarah Spain is an Emmy and Peabody Award-winning sports journalist who excelled in a variety of roles in her decade-plus at ESPN, from radio to podcasting, TV, and writing. Before her journalism career, she was a star athlete both in high school and at Cornell University. She is co-owner of the Chicago Red Stars of the National Women’s Soccer League, and co-founder of “Hear the Cheers,” which provides hearing aids to youth participating in sports and activities. She also serves on the board of Embarc, an organization providing experienced-based learning opportunities to low-income Chicago high school students. Spain recently participated in the FC Women’s Equity in Sports Public Discussion Forum in April 23. The Freedom Center is delighted to welcome her back to campus as a journalist in residence.

Nov. 27, 2023:  Visiting Fellow Bart J. Wilson Book Manuscript Event

Dr. Bart Wilson will share excerpts from his manuscript titled “Meaningful Economics,” in which he explores the roots of conduct in economics, not just its effects, but through a thoughtful examination of the moral sentiments that prompt humans to act. Learn More

April 3, 2024: FC Debate Series: “ESG Now and in the Future,” in Phoenix

In collaboration with the National Review Institute, the Freedom Center will host an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) debate from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Heard Museum in Phoenix. The debate centers on “ESG Now and in the Future: Is There Common Ground,” welcoming national experts to debate the many facets of ESG by presenting arguments favoring and opposing its objectives, which are designed to shape how companies account for and disclose their environmental impact, address social challenges, and make decisions with immediate and long-term consequences. Confirmed participants include Kevin Hassett, Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and senior adviser to National Review’s Capital Matters; Dawn Jones, Intel Corporation’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Societal Impact; and Kimberly Yee, State Treasurer of Arizona.

April 16, 2024: TEDxUArizona Featuring Our Own Mary Rigdon

This local UA version of TED Talks showcases inspiring presentations and performances reflecting profound research, ideas, and creativity across campus.

Most of us have heard TED Talks—the thought-provoking and mind-bending lectures presented by the world’s greatest thinkers, who share “Ideas Worth Spreading” during an annual live-audience convention. In recent years, the nonprofit TED organization has encouraged self-organized events—known as TEDx—to bring people together to share a TED-like experience at the local level.

We are beyond excited that the University of Arizona has jumped on the bandwagon to create TEDx experiences right here on campus. Topping the list of presenters for the TEDx event planned for April 16, 2024, is the Freedom Center’s very own Director Mary Rigdon, whose research investigating conventional wisdom about the gender wage gap is considered revolutionary, receiving high acclaim from local, national, and international media. Her work has been reviewed nationally and internationally, recognized for its innovative approach to identify reasons for inequities in gender pay that will, hopefully and eventually, yield a resolution.

In addition to three speaker sessions, TEDxUArizona typically showcases several performances. Stay tuned for more details about the TEDx Spring 2024 event.

April 29, 2024: Oral History Video Screening: Holocaust Survivor Hanna Zack Miley

Torn from her home, alone, and unsure of where she was headed, Hanna Zack Miley fled Germany for England at age 7. She would learn that she was part of an epic rescue effort that saved nearly 10,000 Jewish children from Hitler’s Nazi regime. Learn how her life story transitions from vengeful hatred to forgiveness, the release from bitterness, and the healing of the past. This event is made possible through a partnership with the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. Please join us April 29th at the Center for Creative Photography, 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Free and open to the public.