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Capitalism Project
Events And Activities
Adam Smith Society
Featured Program
Intellectual Capital, Philanthropy Magazine, 04-01-11
More Adam Smith Please…, The Weekly Standard, 11-29-10


Marilyn G. Fedak, Vice Chair Emeritus, AllianceBernstein LLP; founder, The Marilyn G. Fedak Capitalism Project


Ryan Patrick Hanley, Professor of Political Science, Marquette University


Howard Husock, Vice President for Policy Research at the Manhattan Institute.


Jerry Muller, Professor of History, Catholic University of America


Sandra Peart, Dean, Jepson School of Leadership Studies, University of Richmond


James Piereson, Senior Fellow, Center for the American Univesity.

Our Project

Today's students are rarely exposed to the thoughtful literature on capitalism that has been developed over the past few centuries. Most universities are failing to teach their students about capitalism's broader institutional, political, and moral themes; its links to limited government, progress and invention; and the sources of anti-capitalist criticisms.

In short, a rounded portrait of capitalism is not present on campus partly because the subject crosses disciplines, partly because academic disciplines have become increasingly focused on quantitative modeling, and also because no one is rewarded for it. Given the recent financial crisis and economic recession, this weakness in the curriculum is even less likely to be rectified now than perhaps it might have been a few years ago—despite the fact that a deeper understanding of capitalism is more badly needed than ever. Those who would defend capitalism often find that they are not equipped to do so due to a systemic misunderstanding—or worse, a systemic ignorance—of the principles that lay behind it.

In order to address this problem, the Manhattan Institute's Center for the American University (CAU) is partnering with the Marilyn G. Fedak Capitalism Project. Our goal is to encourage students, professors, alumni, and business people to discuss both the principles surrounding capitalism and the ways they might expose students to these principles.

Events And Activities

Annual Conference

This fall the CAU will host a conference with Society magazine where panelists will discuss the national discourse on capitalism as well as its treatment within the university. Participants will include professors of economics, political science, history, business, and law. The papers presented at the conference will be featured in two special issues of Society.

Inaugural Conference

In October 2010, the Center for the American University hosted a conference, "Capitalism on Campus: What Are Students Learning? What Should They Know?" Through a discussion with scholars from a range of fields—including economics, history and political science—this conference explored what can be done to improve and encourage such instruction in undergraduate courses as well as in extra-curricular lectures and conferences.

Learn more by watching the video of conference or reading the edited transcript:

Adam Smith Society

The Capitalism Project and the Center for the American University seek to initiate on-the-ground programs geared toward college and graduate level business students. While thousands of young people continue to flock to MBA programs and go on to become entrepreneurs and talented executives, it remains far from certain that many will be able to defend, let alone comprehend in a meaningful sense, the political-economic system that enables their own success.

To this end, we are launching the Adam Smith Society-- a national organization for business schools akin to what the Federalist Society has been for law schools. The Adam Smith Society is a community of business school students dedicated to exploring the links among the economy, government, and society. The Society believes that business, entrepreneurship, and commerce are wellsprings that keep this country vibrant, creative, prosperous, and free. Through debate and discussion, the Society aims to advance this idea on campus and among business leaders.

This upcoming academic year, the Adam Smith Society is sponsoring a pilot program at Harvard Business School. In the years to come, we hope to also launch chapters at other business schools across the country—forming a national organization.

To become involved, or for more information, contact Alison Smith at

Featured Program

Now in its 12th year, the Summer Institute for the History of Economic Thought was held at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies, June 24-27, 2011. The Institute is co-directed by Sandra J. Peart, Dean of the Jepson School and professor David M. Levy of George Mason University.

Sponsored by the Jepson School's Adam Smith Program, the Institute gathers young and eminent scholars from the U.S. and around the world to discuss original research in the history of political economy. The Institute offers a forum for scholars to present work in progress or more polished papers to a lively audience. Underlying the diversity of views at the Summer Institute is a commitment to maintaining interest in the history of the political economy and to further our understanding of the classical liberal tradition. Economic ideas inform conversations about policy, statesmanship, and leadership.

The June 2011 keynote speaker was Nobel laureate James Buchanan. Dr. Buchanan led the Chicago Old and New session with his presentation, "Ideology or Error: Economists and the Great Recession." Other presenters on topics such as Experts, Schools of Economists, Hayek, and Formalism in Economics included David Colander, Michael Perelman, Rob Garnett, Daniel Hammond, Thomas C. Leonard, Michael Thomas, and Carlos Eduardo Suprinyak.

The Summer Institute is supported by the Veritas Fund and the History of Economics Society. For more information and to register for the Institute, see http://jepson.richmond.ed u/conferences/adam-smith/2011-announcement.html. Videos of 2010 presentations are available here:

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