Message from the Director

I join Freedom Center (FC) Associate Director Saura Masconale, our faculty, and staff in extending our best wishes for 2024. As we move into the new year, it’s a time to reflect on our accomplishments at the FC in 2023 with a sense of gratitude and purpose. Looking forward, I am inspired by the schedule of events and opportunities we have in store to meet and serve our constituencies in 2024. In our increasingly complex world and considering recent events abroad and on campuses nationwide, we believe the FC’s mission is more important than ever. In the new year, we will continue to work toward supporting academic freedom and cultivating opportunities for open forums in which we can consider diverse viewpoints, honor our rights to disagree with other people’s ideas, and have enriching conversations.

The FC does this, in the first place, by promoting outstanding research, so I am pleased to share with you that our members have had a very productive year. You can read about all our scholarly accomplishments here. It has likewise been extremely rewarding to host five Visiting Fellows this fall, creating opportunities for the exchange of ideas with UArizona faculty, post-docs, and students. We were also delighted to welcome award-winning ESPN journalist Sarah Spain back to campus as the first FC Journalist in Residence. Sarah personifies the FC’s commitment to discourse and open debate. This spring, we will also welcome Jay Nordingler of The National Review. Jay will conduct a series of interviews with Nobel Laureate Vernon L. Smith, economist Deirdre McCloskey, and corporate law expert Robert Mundheim. Our intellectual community is as strong as ever.

Finally, as you read about our programming for 2024, I would also like to highlight a couple of upcoming events that best exemplify our commitment to promoting meaningful conversations both inside and outside academia. The first is the next installment of our debate series, “ESG Now and in the Future: Is There Common Ground,” which we are hosting in Phoenix on April 3, and an Oral Video Screening with Holocaust Survivor Hanna Zack Miley, which will be held on campus on April 29. We hope to see you at this and other FC events throughout the coming months. 
May this year be one of transformative experiences and shared successes. I am looking forward to all that we will accomplish together.

Bear Down!

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

P.S. Don’t forget that you can stay updated with the FC by following us on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and LinkedIn.

FC Initiatives Fueled by Grant Funding from the Thomas W. Smith Foundation, Bradley Foundation, and John Templeton Foundation  

Mary L. Rigdon, Director and Associate Professor of Political Economy & Moral Science, and Saura Masconale, Associate Director and Assistant Professor of Political Economy & Moral Science, spearhead efforts to engage national foundations to help fuel FC projects and programming. These resources leverage the Center’s funds to enhance and expand research, educational programs, and public outreach. The Thomas W. Smith Foundation has been a generous supporter of the Center, and two recent additional awards will make a significant impact:

The Lynde & Harry Bradley Foundation is investing to support the inaugural Biennial Freedom Center Conference on Academic Freedom and Free Speech being held in Spring 2025. This two-day event will convene scholars from various disciplines, students, and the public to address the critical importance of safeguarding academic freedom and free speech in higher education.

The John Templeton Foundation has made a three-year commitment to support the Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) Undergraduate Summer School (#62965). See more below.

Making an Impact at the Capitol – FC Launches Arizona Legislative Fellowship Program

Arizona State Capitol Building

Each year, the Arizona Legislature is in session for less than six months, and members have a minimal staff. This creates a unique opportunity for UArizona graduate students to gain valuable experience working directly with legislators. Following a successful 2023 pilot program, the Freedom Center has launched an Arizona Legislative Fellowship Program. Former Rep. Daniel Hernandez is the FC Legislator Program Coordinator.

Arizona State Capitol Building

Freedom Center Helps Provide Clarity to the First Amendment and Free Speech on Campus 

What is free speech, how does it work, and what responsibility do universities have to protect it? Those questions were addressed at “Free Speech on Campus,” a public event at the University of Arizona featuring a panel of First Amendment scholars, presented as universities across the country continue to respond to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas against Israel. The Freedom Center sponsored the event, organized by the Arizona Student Chapter of the Federalist Society and the  James E. Rogers College of Law faculty. Saura Masconale facilitated the partnership and is the Center’s liaison to the law school.

Saura Masconale

The FC Visiting Fellows Program welcomes distinguished scholars from around the world to further their research and book projects, and engage with the UA campus community.

Laura Razzolini and Mary Rigdon in front of Old Main

Drs. Laura Razzolini (left) and Mary Rigdon, (right) share an interest in research focused on gender competitiveness. Mary Rigdon was delighted to welcome longtime colleague Laura Razzolini, Department Head of Economics, Finance, and Legal Studies and Professor of Economics at The University of Alabama, to the UA campus as a FC Visting Fellow,  based on their long history of collaboration, friendship, and shared research interests. “Laura’s energy and ideas produce synergies that drive new questions, ideas, and opportunities for scholarship,” she says. “That’s what the Visiting Fellows program is all about,” she says.

Dr. Razzolini collaborated with Dr. Jennifer Pate (Professor of Economics, at Loyola Marymount University) who is also a Visiting Fellow, on a paper called “Lying Out of Obligation: Cheap Talk in an Ultimatum Game with Outside Obligations.” They explore how an employer’s implicit bias about financial responsibilities may be responsible for a portion of the gender wage gap.

Dr. James Konow (Professor of Economics, Loyola Marymount University) used his time as a Visiting Fellow to work on a significant project that blends normative, philosophy, behavioral economics, experimental economics, and ethics within the framework of traditional moral philosophy. 

Book Manuscript Workshops 

Sanford Ikeda’s (SUNY Purchase) new book, A City Cannot Be a Work of Art: Learning Economics and Social Theory from Jane Jacobs is a project that is a decade in the making. As part of a two-night Freedom Center Book Manuscript Workshop, he engaged graduate students and faculty in philosophy and economics, sharing his perspective and spurring insightful conversations.

Sanford Ikeda

Bart J. Wilson (Chapman University) credits his experience as a catalyst that provided the perfect opportunity, location, and collaboration to help him write Meaningful Economics. The Freedom Center hosted a Manuscript Workshop to help him revise the book, which continues to reintegrate economics and the humanities to promote a better understanding of how decision-making impacts individuals and society.

Bart Wilson

ESPN’s Award-Winning Sarah Spain is the FC’s First Journalist in Residence  

During her decade-plus stellar career as an ESPN sports journalist, Sarah Spain has collected Emmy and Peabody awards and developed into one of the most recognizable larger-than-life personalities on TV, radio and via her own podcast. Following her UA visit last April, when she joined a panel of women athlete “superheroes” for a FC Public Discussion Forum, Women’s Equity in Sports: The Fight, the Scars, and the Thrill of Victory, Spain was invited back to campus as the inaugural Journalist in Residence, a post that she described as extremely valuable to her professional and personal growth. Read about her experiences on campus, forthcoming book, and her favorite Tucson spots in this exclusive Q&A.

Sarah Spain

Apply Now: PPEL Undergraduate Summer School 2024 – June 4-7 in San Diego 

University of San Diego

Thanks to a generous grant from the John Templeton Foundation, and a beneficial partnership between three universities—including the UA Freedom Center; University of San Diego’s Center for Ethics, Economics and Public Policy; and Chapman University’s Smith Institute for Political Economy & Philosophy—dozens of students will be welcomed from around the globe to participate in the second annual Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Law (PPEL) Undergraduate Summer School in San Diego, June 4-7, 2024.

The program was developed by FC Director Mary Rigdon and FC Associate Director Saura Masconale and designed to align with the FC’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. The inaugural session drew 30 undergraduate students from 20 different universities and three nations to the University of San Diego, where they were immersed in the intensive curriculum focused on the practical problems of organizing and running human society.

Cato Institute Sphere Education Initiatives and the Freedom Center Partner to Provide Professional Development to K-12 Teachers  

Back for its second year in Phoenix, Arizona, Sphere Education Initiatives and the FC will present “Foundations of Civic Culture: The Importance of Teachers to Free Speech, Civil Discourse, Economics, and Public Policy” on January 26 – 27, 2024. The event invites K-12 teachers to collaboratively explore the challenges they face while promoting free speech and civil discourse in their classrooms. The summit kicks off with a “Salute to Teachers” dinner and opening keynote address by Cato Institute’s Romina Boccia. The following day, Arizona Rep. Quang Nguyen will deliver a keynote presentation on the importance of free speech and civil discourse, complemented by a screening of his oral history, “Communism in Vietnam.” The two-day event features interactive panel discussions, expert presentations, and breakout sessions led by nationally renowned scholars and academics. Participating teachers receive a stipend and free classroom resources along with eight professional development hours.  

FC Director Mary Rigdon Presenting Her Gender Competitiveness Research

In 2023, just 10% of Fortune 500 CEOs were women, and that was a record high. Why?

Challenging conventional wisdom and the status quo, Mary L. Rigdon has become one of the foremost experts on gender competitiveness and the wage gap. Her research, funded by the National Science Foundation and pursued with Alessandra Cassar, Professor of Economics at the University of San Francisco, debunks the gender competitiveness myth. Their latest research explores the role of social incentives to tap women’s natural competitiveness, which organizations can use to develop recruitment, compensation, and reward strategies to help close the persistent wage and opportunity gap. Mary will detail this research and its implications in her talk “Understanding Competitiveness and the Gender Wage Gap” at three upcoming presentations: the National Science Foundation’s Social and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series, the Keynote for the Arizona Council for Economic Education Invest in Girls Program Launch, and the Keynote for the Western Region of the Association for Business Communication Conference.

NSF logo

Upcoming events – Save the Date and Register these Free Community Events 

February 9-10Arizona Workshop on Freedom & Responsibility presented by the University of Arizona Department of Philosophy and Center for the Philosophy of Freedom.  

April 3 – University of Arizona Center for the Philosophy of Freedom Debate Series ESG Now and in the Future: Is There Common Ground? Former White House Press Secretaries Ari Fleischer and Robert Gibbs will moderate this debate featuring Kevin Hassett, 29th Chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers; Dawn Jones, Intel Corporation’s Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer and Vice President of Societal Impact; and Kimberly Yee, State Treasurer of Arizona. 

April 12 – Jay Nordlinger and Vernon Smith podcast.

April 29 – The Freedom Center and Arizona Center for Judaic Studies Present: An Evening and Oral History Screening with Holocaust Survivor Hanna Zack Miley. Robert C. Robbins, UArizona President; Rep. Ben Toma, Speaker of the Arizona House of Representatives; and Rep. Alma Hernandez will participate in this free community educational event. 

Spring 2024 Visiting Fellows Dates 

  • Bart Wilson, Professor of Economics and Law (Chapman University) – Jan 14-27 
  • Jennifer Pate, Professor of Economics (Loyola Marymount University) – Feb 12-16, Mar 11-15, and May 20-24 
  • Sanford Ikeda, Professor of Economics (SUNY-Purchase) – Apr 1-6 
  • Laura Razzolini, Professor of Economics and Department Head (University of Alabama) – Apr 22-26 and May 20-24 
  • Saura Masconale (Associate Director/Faculty)
    • “ESG and Boundary Risks – A Social Welfare Approach,” European Business Law Review, invited contribution, forthcoming
    • “Shareholders and Competition: Efficiency and Political Outcomes,” in Research Handbook on Competition and Corporate Law, eds. Florence Thepot and Anna Tzanaki, forthcoming
    • “Moral Capitalism, Ethical Shareholderism, and Social Cohesion,” Social Philosophy & Policy, with Simone M. Sepe, forthcoming
  • Thomas Christiano (Affiliated Faculty)
    • “Worker Participation and the Egalitarian Conception of Fair Market Exchange,” In Social Philosophy & Policy, Vol. 39, No. 2, 2023
  • Simone Sepe (Faculty)
    • “Moral Capitalism, Ethical Shareholderism, and Social Cohesion,” Social Philosophy & Policy, with Saura Masconale, forthcoming