Category: Acton University

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John Maynard Keynes

“Critics of John Maynard Keynes were so determined his economics were wrong that they allowed Keynes to dictate the terms of the debate,” says Victor Claar, professor of economics at Henderson State University, in his Acton University lecture. He continues to describe Keynes flawed anthropology with respect to classical economists and the Great Depression. Key observations of human nature include the principles of work, property, exchange, and division of labor. We can survive and prosper, take ownership of our work, support and rely on each other through exchange, and specialize in exchange at an opportunity cost. Furthermore, these observations are linked to moral imperatives.

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David Bahnsen explains “value investing” at Acton University.

How should your views on morality affect your investment strategy? David Bahnsen, Chief Investment Officer at The Bahnsen Group, argues in an Acton University presentation titled “Value Investing” that the question is a surprisingly complex one. He begins by outlining the purpose of investment consistent with its definition: to make a profit. Without growth, there is no investing. Similarly, there is no such thing as a risk free investment. Biblical investment is therefore rooted in prudent risk taking.

When designing investment portfolios, who determines what “socially responsible” means? There is no universal, objective determine, and Bahnsen argues either fundamentalists or environmentalists determine what it means. Fundamentalist portfolios might avoid investing in tobacco or alcohol, and environmentalist portfolios might stray from fossil fuels. (more…)

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Father Benjamin Fiiriter before an Acton University lecture.

Father Benjamin Fiiriter traveled over 20 hours from Ghana to attend Acton University earlier this month. He works in the Diocese of Wa in various capacities at the Finance Office, Estates Office and Procuration, Pontifical Mission Societies and the General Correspondence of the Bishop and the Curia. In his extensive work with Church documents, he felt a formal “academic and spiritual refresher” was necessary. He was not disappointed. Among his favorite courses were Christian Anthropology, which has a “wide and deep pertinence to [Ghanaian] culture”, as well as Islam 101, which is also “extremely relevant in [Ghanaian] society.” (more…)

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Jeffrey Tucker lectures at Acton University.

The industrial revolution did not begin in the eighteenth century, but was a gradual process of development comprised of the individual actions of thousands of innovators across time. The dramatic changes in the world have come about partially due to the technological growth, some of which developed out of this revolution of industry. It is not the result of a few “great, singular men”, but of many interconnected individual innovations. Jeffrey Tucker, Director of Content at FEE (Foundation for Economic Education) painted a vivid picture of the role of technology and ideas in shaping the world we live in today in an Acton University lecture titled “Technology and Markets: Medieval Times to Modernity.” He emphasized the importance of the medieval era for technological growth and formation, particularly the gradual emergence of the social norm of respecting the property rights of others.

Despite the importance of property rights, Tucker argues that ideas should not be thought of as property. (more…)

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Acton University 2015 Participants

After working in the DC area for nearly twenty years, Judi Niedercorn recently moved to the Northern Appalachian area of New York where she founded the Northern Appalachian Socio-Economic Collaborative (NASEC) and is in the midst of transferring her company, SysTactics. Her company, SysTactics provides technical and managerial consulting services to commercial and government clients. NASEC is a non-profit enabling the communities of Cattaraugus and Allegany Counties in New York to improve the economy and fight poverty. NASEC is a collaboration of civic, commercial, and faith based organizations working together towards long lasting economic improvement in the region. As Judi began a new life endeavor with NASEC, she came upon the Acton Institute and thought Acton University would be a good resource for her work. She certainly found that to be true!

Judi was impressed that all the speakers were top notch in their particular field of instruction. The foundational courses did an excellent job of laying the ground work for a common understanding of “the very foundations of faith, life, and flourishing as well as our responses and responsibilities.” She found that Christopher Brook’s session on “Church, City, and Urban Renewal” was a “bonanza of inspiration.” (more…)

470380_368492526508146_880858769_oMichael Matheson Miller, research fellow at the Acton Institute, presented a course at Acton University a few weeks ago titled, “Poverty in the Developing World.”

The purpose of the lecture was to demonstrate the root cause of global poverty and to analyze the impact of attempts to alleviate poverty through economic aid. Miller was able to draw from the insights he gained during his extensive travels across the globe, and his conclusion was that aid often harms local economies because it crowed out small businesses by under-cutting their prices. He also found that aid often encourages dependency on foreign assistance which prevents long term economic development. However, he went on to clarify that “this lecture is not a critique of aid but a critique of a flawed system and its underlying assumptions of which aid is the main symptom.” (more…)

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C. S. Lewis

Silence took the place of applause as the room struggled to manifest a question to the finality of Peter Kreeft’s lecture; unfazed, the professor filled with excitement at the chance to quip the crowd quoting Aristotle: “human beings are curious by nature.” A smirk crept across his face as he both laid forth a potential congratulation for our ascension beyond curiosity as gods or the insult of being beasts below curiosity. With that, the air filled with questioning hands.

A few weeks ago at Acton University 2015, professor of philosophy at Boston College and at the King’s College and a prolific writer of Christian philosophy and apologetics, Peter Kreeft, taught the course: “Good, True, and Beautiful: C.S. Lewis.” Focusing on these three virtues known as cardinal or transcendental that are central to philosophical conceptions of God, Kreeft goes on as any philosopher must to define the three virtues and their place in the world. The cardinal “hinge” role of these virtues is because humanity never grows tired of goodness, truth, or beauty because these are the attributes of perfection, of God. Moreover, “everything God creates is imbued with these attributes to some extent” and Kreeft discussed their manifestation of the works of C.S. Lewis. (more…)