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May
2
2011

Like many of you, I can’t remember the last time I hand-wrote a paper for class.  Since my first college course, all the materials were available online.  We even interact with our classmates on website discussion boards.  But what does this mean for the future of college learning?  For the role of the teacher?  And for that matter, will the role of government in education change as we continue to personalize education?  Jane Shaw of the Pope Center for Higher Education has an interesting piece on “Why Harvard and Yale Had to Merge”, which illustrates the potential that technology has to disrupt traditional (and outdated) learning.  Too often the market for education services is overlooked, but technology has a unique ability to force administrators into a conversation about the current system.

If you have not yet participated, consider joining in on one of SFL’s E-Leadership webinars. Online, every week.

This weekend I attended a conference hosted by Liberty Fund on “Education and Liberty in a Digital Age”.  We discussed these questions and many others, and of particular interest to me was the role that each of us students plays in the transformation.  We are a generation raised on technology being taught by a generation that is often reluctant to adopt its many benefits.  But we can use everything from our voices to our dollars to demand more pro-liberty opportunities inside and outside the classroom.  In fact, SFL owes a lot of its growth to the social networking we all take for granted today.

As technology influences students of all ages, we have the opportunity to throw off the regulations that bind us and create an academic environment that is truly about intellectual pursuits.  Of course, this freedom can only come with student activism and an entrepreneurial spirit.  It is up to our generation to use technology and innovation for liberty.  And I am incredibly excited to see what we accomplish.

To continue this conversation on liberty, SFL is also very excited to partner with the Liberty Fund to bring you the first of 3 joint symposia on Exploring the Foundations of a Free Society.  The first of these symposia is already being planned: “The Institutions of Liberty” applications are online now and are due in less than two weeks!  You can apply to join this amazing opportunity August 5-7th.

Looking for something fun to do during your next student group meeting?  The Moving Picture Institute (MPI) offers FREE film screenings to students who love liberty!

MPI’s mission is to produce and market films that promote liberty and a free society. MPI invites you to check out their films Indoctrinate U, Do As I Say, and Free Market Cure.

More information on the films can be found on their website, at TheMPI.org and clips at YouTube.com/theMPInstitute.

If you are interested in hosting a screening on your campus, MPI is happy to help you with it.  Write to Info@theMPI.org for more information.

Apply for student scholarship enrollments in the premier Open Objectivist Summer Seminar, July 6 -13 in Anaheim, California. Stipends and housing assistance are available.

Experience today’s finest thinking and achievements in philosophy, psychology, advanced technology, politics, economics, the arts, and education. You’ll meet and exchange ideas with great, cordial thinkers and doers who are changing the world.

Over sixty speakers and topics including:

  • Open Objectivism: Ayn Rand’s Philosophy Spreads its Wings
  • The Universe: New Observations that Stretch our Minds
  • Anti-Science: Zombie Rednecks Join Lefty Academics
  • Psycho-Epistemology: Thinking Way More about Thinking
  • Self Esteem: Building and Rebuilding Your Reputation With Yourself
  • Why We’re Getting Smarter Faster And Why it Seems Otherwise
  • Brain-Centered Ethics and Mind-Based Law
  • Politics Without Crooks
  • Cutting Back City Hall: The New Wave
  • Worldwide Human Rights and Liberation Movements
  • The Endless Battle for Freedom: Hey, We’re Winning
  • New Media and How Ideas Spread Like Wildfire
  • Your Art is Decadent, Mine is Transcendent
  • How Atlas Shrugged Changed the World
  • Ideas Have Consequences: The Impact of Post Modernism on the Arts
  • Reason in the Classroom
  • Free Higher Education: Academia Gets a Nervous Rash
  • The Invention and Evolution of Reason: The Real Greatest Story Ever Told

It’s the learning experience of a lifetime, with generous opportunities for open, congenial socializing and discussion.

You can apply for scholarship with the Atlas Society — contact wthomas@AtlasSociety.org. And contact the Free Minds Institute at FreeMinds.edu@gmail.com to receive an additional $200 stipend in return for conference assistance.

Dr. C.J. Maloney has recently published his first book, Back to the Land.  Maloney has been generous enough to donate his time to speak at SFL events over the years and was generous enough to give me a chance to read the manuscript before its publication and write a quote of endorsement for the back cover:

Here was the quote I gave:

F.A. Hayek argued in the abstract that the success of socialism came from its utopian vision.  C.J. Maloney articulately details one real-world example of how the centrally planned attempt to implement such a vision failed, but the decentralized efforts of common people succeeded in overcoming the obstacles laid in their path.

I’d like to expand on what I meant here.  In “The Intellectuals and Socialism” (a must-read for anyone serious about promoting liberty), F.A. Hayek provides an account of social change whereby legislation and political action only take place after enough people endorse the ideas behind the legislation, which requires intellectuals in society to endorse the ideas, which are initially developed and promoted by academics and leading theorists.  Even John Maynard Keynes said that,

The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.

Hayek argues that the reason socialism became so widely endorsed was because it embraced a utopian vision that people could rally behind.  In contrast, advocates of the free market spent too much time debating numbers and studies and all kinds of meaningful, but non-inspiring work.  It is much easier for people to rally behind the ideal of “No more poverty!” than “Look at this analysis!”  The failure of libertarians to embrace a utopian vision and effectively advocate an ideal is its own subject that I hope to address in another post.  The importance of this point here is that socialism as an ideology spread because it was utopian.  However, attempts to turn that utopian vision into a reality were failures.  It is important to understand how that vision could be so powerfully promoted and become such a devastating failure to challenge socialism as an ideology.

CJ Maloney’s book documents one story of how a socialist vision created a brand new town that was supposed to be a utopia based on such a vision, but was burdened and nearly destroyed by that vision.  However, the voluntary activity of the citizens of that town, through non-governmental support, was able to save the town.  It is both a warning of the dangers of socialist ideology and an offering of hope for people overcome.  That’s why I recommend Back to the Land.

COMING TO A LIVING ROOM NEAR YOU….

May Webinars are Here! And they will blow you away.

Wind down the semester and continue with your REAL liberal education. Tune in Wednesday nights in the month of May to get the advanced ideas you’ve been seeking! All webinars take place on YOUR computer each Wednesday evening at 8PM EST. Find a full schedule with lecture descriptions and speaker biographies on our E-Leadership webinar page.

Wednesday, May 4, 8PM-9:15PM Eastern/Standard Time

The Structure of Libertarian Thought and Liberty as a World Wide Phenomenon

Speaker: Tom Palmer

Register Here; Facebook Event Here

Wednesday, May 11, 8PM-9PM Eastern/Standard Time

Lest We Forget: The Lessons of Soviet Socialism for Our Own Times

Speaker: Richard Ebeling

Register Here; Facebook Event Here

Wednesday, May 18, 8PM-9PM Eastern/Standard Time

Anarchy and Efficient Law

Speaker: David Friedman

Register Here; Facebook Event Here

Wednesday, May 25, 8PM-9PM Eastern/Standard Time

The Nature and Value of Autonomy

Speaker: James Stacey Taylor

Register Here; Facebook Event Here