In case you haven’t already heard the rumor, allow me to fill you in: AU Online has an awesome, newly revamped website and digital learning platform. AU Online is designed to make the resources and tools of a typical Acton conference available through a university-level, online environment. The AU Online team hopes the new features and functions will make this program your go-to destination for the integration of faithful intentions and sound economic reason.
To kick off the 2012-2013 schedule of online courses, Acton’s director of research, Dr. Samuel Gregg, will present a four-part lecture series, Freedom and Virtue in the Developed World. The first live, online session is scheduled for 6:30pm EDT on October 23.
If you haven’t done so, we encourage you to visit the AU Online website to see for yourself what all of the hype is about! If you have any questions, please contact the AU Online team by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On an unrelated note, registration for the 2013 Acton University conference opens November 15! Be sure not to miss out on your chance to apply.
Joe Gorra of the Evangelical Philosophical Society concludes his excellent series of interviews with Acton University speakers by discussing entrepreneurship, poverty, and Abraham Kuyper with Peter Heslam:
Gorra: The role of faith in building social capital is fascinating.
Social scientists increasingly agree that social capital is fundamental to business success, economic development and wellbeing and that Christianity is one of its key contributors.
Heslam: Through innovative research and instruction we aim to channel the rising concern about global poverty in fresh directions that will deliver tangible improvement and genuine opportunities for people in poverty, based on biblical, holistic approach to what it means to be human.
We use robust, creative and multidisciplinary thinking, along with practical models and case studies, to discover and disseminate the most effective means by which Christians integrate faith with enterprise to provide sustainable routes out of poverty.
All of the Gorra’s interviews in the series can be found here. Both of Heslam’s lectures are available in the digital download store – Common Grace in Business and Abraham Kuyper, Entrepreneurship and Poverty.
If you missed the recent Acton University, here is a roundup of reactions and reflections by bloggers to give you an idea of why you need to attend next year:
Matthew Tuininga, at Christian in America, attended Acton University last week, and came away with a number of insights regarding government, religion and economics. Chief among his insights is this:
Christians should not argue for a free market or capitalist society because Scripture or the Church has given us such a system. Rather, the moral case for a free market and for capitalism depends to a significant degree on the fact that it works. Principle, in that sense, is inseparable from pragmatism. If you want to help the poor, why would you support any system other than that which has done more to create economic growth and has lifted more people out of poverty than any other institution or force in the history of the world? If you value freedom, why not maximize it as much as is possible consistent with general prosperity, peace, and order?
As Tuininga points out, we can easily make our case for free market economics from a moral standpoint, using logic and sound scholarship to persuade people who may believe that only religion (especially Christianity) makes the case for free market economics.
Read more of Tuininga’s post here.
Friday was the last day of Acton University 2012. Here are a few photos from the day’s events. Did you miss AU this year? Be sure to check out our downloadable lectures here.
The first is an interview with Kishore Jayabalan, director of Istituto Acton in Rome, on Distributism as a ‘Third Way’:
Gorra: Why do you think distributist premises are so appealing to some?
Jayabalan: Distributism is appealing because it recognizes that there is more to life than economics and especially the production and consumption of material goods. Liberal commercial societies have produced all kinds of wealth and opportunity, but from a Catholic perspective, we know that these are not the ends of life, but rather the means to ensure a just society and eventually to help us lead holier lives. It’s also true that large corporate interests and big government collude to reduce competition and that there is something wrong with our current economic system. It’s always tempting for humans to think that the past was better, that progress is delusional, that we’ve lost our way. But the question is whether the past was as noble was we think it was, and whether some kind of return to a pre-modern way of life is possible or even desirable.
Thursday at Acton University included a lot of high quality lectures, including ones from Eric Metaxas, Victor Claar, Samuel Gregg, Jon Pinheiro, and Jonathan Witt. Here are just a few photos of the day’s events. If you’d like to listen to some of these lectures, we have a digital downloads page for AU2012 set up where you can buy each for $0.99 here.
On the drive over to Acton University this morning I heard an argument on the radio about how the economy would have been fixed if only the dollar amount of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 would have been doubled. What a sad statement to pin your hope to in order to fix the American economy. That argument is unlikely to be uttered at Acton University. Fixing economic problems and lifting up the human condition is not measured by dollars here. Present at Acton University is the strong sense that solving complex problems and failures in society are attainable outside of centralization or a materialistic worldview.
It is easy to walk outside the community and walls of AU and give up on society. But this week has been a powerful reminder that there are hundreds of people here who are certainly brilliant, but more importantly, empowered by our Lord. The conference convicts you that you can do more to transform a hungry and needy world.
It has been a blessing to converse and share fellowship with people like Michael Novak. Novak was speaking out aggressively about the free and virtuous society when free markets were even less popular in the intellectual and academic arena. In a lecture on Alexsandr Solzhenitsyn, Ed Ericson cited Novak’s brilliant essay in response to Solzhenitsyn’s Harvard Address in 1978. Novak, in responding to that address, notes that “the most serious seekers after truth come to unexpected and remarkable convergences.” I can’t think of a better summary for the community and fellowship here at Acton University. While there are certainly theological differences, we are all united and invigorated by the truth. And as Solzhenitsyn himself declared, “One word of truth outweighs the world.”
One of the excellent presentations at Acton University today was Andreas Widmer’s class on “Business as a Moral Enterprise.” For those who missed it, Joe Gorra of the Evangelical Philosophical Society recently interviewed Widmer, a Research Fellow in Entrepreneurship at the Acton Institute, on that same topic:
Gorra: Entrepreneurship is in your bones. You are the co-founder of the SEVEN Fund, which is doing some remarkable work “to dramatically increase the rate of innovation and diffusion of enterprise-based solutions to poverty.” To start off, I want to have you address what might be aptly described as one of your life themes: business as a moral enterprise. Why is it a moral enterprise and not merely a profit-maximizing machine?
Widmer: There is a misconception in our society that business is amoral, or that the pursuit of profit is mutually exclusive to conducting business with virtue. A Moral Enterprise is one that approaches business in the spirit of co-creation: as we pursue entrepreneurship, we mirror God’s image as the creator, and pursue his invitation to participate in his creative power.