The Market for Ideas Reading Groups provide a forum for students to engage with key texts in economics and related disciplines with a cohort of their peers under the guidance of a Bagwell Center affiliated faculty member. Each reading group will meet for a total of five hours per semester to discuss readings assigned by the faculty member. Student participants will receive the assigned reading materials, plus a $200 honorarium for each reading group completed (each individual student can potentially participate in up to 4 reading groups).


  • Remain enrolled as a full-time student in good standing at Kennesaw State University throughout their participation in the Market for Ideas Reading Groups.
  • Attend and actively participate in all scheduled programming.
  • Arrive on time and prepared for each meeting, having carefully read any assigned readings in advance.
  • Participants are also encouraged to attend Bagwell Center events and to build relationships with other participants and Bagwell Center faculty.

The deadline to apply is  January 19th, 2024.

Market for Ideas Reading Groups Spring 2024
  • Book 1: Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace
    Faculty Leader Dr. James Boudreau
    Meeting Dates: 3/6, 3/20, 3/27, 4/3
    Meeting Time: 12:20 pm-1:10 pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description for Why We Fight: The Roots of War and the Paths to Peace by Christopher Blattman: Why did Russia attack Ukraine? Will China invade Taiwan and launch WWIII? Why has the number of civil wars reached their highest level in decades? Why are so many cities in the Americas plagued with violence? And finally, what can any of us do about it?

    It feels like we’re surrounded by violence. Each conflict seems unique and insoluble. With a reason for every war and a war for every reason, what hope is there for peace? Fortunately, it’s simpler than that. Why We Fight boils down decades of economics, political science, psychology, and real-world interventions, giving us some counterintuitive answers to the question of war. 

    The first is that most of the time we don’t fight. Around the world, there are millions of hostile rivalries, yet only a fraction erupt into violence. Most enemies loathe one another in peace. The reason is simple: war is too costly to fight. It’s the worst way to settle our differences.
    In those rare instances when fighting ensues, that means we have to ask ourselves: What kept rivals from the normal, grudging compromise? The answer is always the same: It’s because a society or its leaders ignored those costs of war, or were willing to pay them.

    Why We Fight shows that there are just five ways this happens. From warring states to street gangs, ethnic groups and religious sects to political factions, Christopher Blattman shows that there are five reasons why violent conflict occasionally wins over compromise.

    Through Blattman’s time studying Medellín, Chicago, Liberia, Northern Ireland, and more, we learn the common logics driving vainglorious monarchs, dictators, mobs, pilots, football hooligans, ancient peoples, and fanatics. Why We Fight shows that war isn’t a series of errors, accidents, and emotions gone awry. There are underlying strategic, ideological, and institutional forces that are too often overlooked.
    So how to get to peace?

    Blattman shows that societies are surprisingly good at interrupting and ending violence when they want to—even gangs do it. The best peacemakers tackle the five reasons, shifting incentives away from violence and getting rivals back to dealmaking. And they do so through tinkering, not transformation.

    Realistic and optimistic, this is a book that lends new meaning to the adage “Give peace a chance.”

    Book 2:
     Economics in One Lesson, Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth, and The Use of Knowledge in Society
    Faculty Leader: Dr. Nicholas Cooper
    Meeting Dates: 2/19, 3/4, 3/18, 4/1
    Meeting Time: 1:25 pm-2:15 pm
    Meeting Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description for Economics in One Lesson by Henry Hazlitt: Considered among the leading economic thinkers of the “Austrian School,” which includes Carl Menger, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich (F.A.) Hayek, and others, Henry Hazlitt (1894-1993), was a libertarian philosopher, an economist, and a journalist. He was the founding vice-president of the Foundation for Economic Education and an early editor of The Freeman magazine, an influential libertarian publication.  Hazlitt wrote Economics in One Lesson, his seminal work, in 1946. Concise and instructive, it is also deceptively prescient and far-reaching in its efforts to dissemble economic fallacies that are so prevalent they have almost become a new orthodoxy.

    Economic commentators across the political spectrum have credited Hazlitt with foreseeing the collapse of the global economy which occurred more than 50 years after the initial publication of Economics in One Lesson. Hazlitt’s focus on non-governmental solutions, strong — and strongly reasoned — anti-deficit position, and general emphasis on free markets, economic liberty of individuals, and the dangers of government intervention make Economics in One Lesson every bit as relevant and valuable today as it has been since publication.

    Book description for Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth by Ludwig von Mises: This is the essay that overthrew the socialist paradigm in economics, and provided the foundation for modern Austrian price theory. When it first appeared in 1920, Mises was alone in challenging the socialists to explain how their pricing system would actually work in practice. Mises proved that socialism could not work because it could not distinguish more or less valuable uses of social resources, and predicted the system would end in chaos. The result of his proof was the two-decade-long "socialist calculation" debate. This new edition contains an afterword by Joseph Salerno, who applies the calculation argument to contemporary problems like environmentalism and business regulation.Table of Contents:The Distribution of Consumption Goods in the Socialist CommonwealthThe Nature of Economic CalculationEconomic Calculation in the Socialist CommonwealthResponsibility and Initiative in Communal ConcernsThe Most Recent Socialist Doctrines and the Problem of Economic Calculation"The significance of Mises's 1920 article extends far beyond its devastating demonstration of the impossibility of socialist economy and society. It provides the rationale for the price system, purely free markets, the security of private property against all encroachments, and sound money. Its thesis will continue to be relevant as long as economists and policy-makers want to understand why even minor government economic interventions consistently fail to achieve socially beneficial results. "Economic Calculation in the Socialist Commonwealth" surely ranks among the most important economic articles written this century."-Joseph T. Salerno, from the afterword.

    Book description for The Use of Knowledge in Society by F. A. Hayek: “The Use of Knowledge in Society” . . . draws attention to the fact that the most relevant knowledge for economic decision-making is not the general knowledge of the economist or philosopher, but rather the dispersed, local, and often tacit knowledge of myriad individuals in an economy. Although his primary concern is to show the irresolvable problems of central planning, his insights in this and other related essays have many implications and applications, both within and beyond the field of economics. (this description was borrowed from Anton D. Howes’ essay “F.A. Hayek on the Discovery, Use, and Transmission of Knowledge.”)

    Book 3: The Myth of American Inequality: How Government Biases Policy Debate
    Faculty Leader: Dr. Timothy Mathews
    Meeting Dates: 2/19, 2/26, 3/4, 3/18
    Meeting Time: 11:15 am-12:05 pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description for The Myth of American Inequality by Phil Gramm: Everything you know about income inequality, poverty, and other measures of economic well-being in America is wrong. In this provocative book, a former United States senator, eminent economist, and a former senior leader at the Bureau of Labor Statistics challenge the prevailing consensus that income inequality is a growing threat to American society. By taking readers on a deep dive into the way government measures economic well-being, they demonstrate that our official statistics dramatically overstate inequality. Getting the facts straight reveals that the key measures of well-being are greater than the official statistics of the country would lead us to believe. Income inequality is lower today than at any time in post- World War II America. The facts reveal a very different and better America than the one that is currently described by policy advocates across much of the political spectrum. The Myth of American Inequality provides clear and convincing evidence that the American Dream is alive and well.

    Book 4: On Liberty Liberty, EqualityFraternity
    Faculty Leader: Prof. Michael Patrono
    Meeting Dates: 3/6, 3/20, 3/27, 4/3
    Meeting time: 1:30 pm-2:45 pm
    Location: Kennesaw Campus

    Book description for Liberty, Equality, Fraternity by James Fitzjames Stephen: Students of political theory will welcome the return to print of this brilliant defense of ordered liberty. Impugning John Stuart Mill’s famous treatise, On Liberty, Stephen criticized Mill for turning abstract doctrines of the French Revolution into “the creed of a religion.”

    Only the constraints of morality and law make liberty possible, warned Stephen, and attempts to impose unlimited freedom, material equality, and an indiscriminate love of humanity will lead inevitably to coercion and tyranny. Liberty must be restrained by custom and tradition if it is to endure; equality must be limited to equality before the law if it is to be just; and fraternity must include actual men, not the amorphous mass of mankind, if it is to be real and genuine.

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