Growing up impoverished in the Grand Rapids area himself, Justin Beene brings a unique perspective to his lecture on Community and Economic Development. He has seen first-hand the good intentions behind top-down investing to eliminate poverty and racial injustice, and the consequential damage wreaked upon such communities. Urban cities have largely been developed through three forces: gentrification, pouring resources into them, and community development. Beene asserts that we need to cut off top-down funding and start supporting neighborhoods in solving their own problems. We must do things with its citizens, not for them or to them. Instead of enacting additional programming or conducting further needs assessments, we need to eliminate the “broken vending machine” that is development today, and break the cycle of toxic charity that runs rampant in creating gratitude, anticipation, expectation, entitlement, and dependency among the poor. (more…)
Luis Hernandez traveled to Acton University from Mexico City, where he works as a pastoral coordinator for Anáhuac Sur University. He is responsible for managing projects and spiritual activities to help both the university students and the surrounding community. He also holds a degree in Industrial Engineering, and frequently travels throughout Mexico helping communities build churches. He was excited to attend Acton University to learn about “ways that communities can take control of their own development.” (more…)
The Family & the Market, an Acton University lecture by Jennifer Roback Morse, uses Christian theology and logic to illustrate unique connections between seemingly unrelated aspects of society, at least to the secular world. Morse is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, where she discovered that the economy depends on the intact family raising children. This Institute has a dream: that every child is welcomed into a loving home with a married mother and father. Their goal is to create a lasting and Christ-like social movement, and to clean up the consequences of the Sexual Revolution.
Students in this course learn the importance of both parents raising their own children together, as opposed to divorcing, sharing custody, or placing children in foster care. This is vital in order to “respect, honor, and preserve” the genetic identity and cultural heritage of every adult, without exception. Morse emphasizes that when this practice is violated, it gives way to structural injustice and the political correctness of “Alternative Family Forms.” These terms, such as multi-partner fertility, are indicators of our broken reality, and of life problems for children in these environments, mainly, stirring up feelings of resentment in an unloved child. (more…)
“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.
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…)
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…)
Daniel Mahoney, professor of political science at Assumption College and lecturer at this year’s Acton University, (find his lectures here) wrote an excellent review in City Journalof Thomas Sowell’s new book, Intellectuals and Society. Sowell argues against the hyper-rationalist tradition of modern intellectuals whose theories tend to be divorced from reality and hostile to tradition and what Michael Polanyi called “tacit knowledge” of everyday people. As Mahoney notes, this has been a recurring theme of Sowell’s work throughout the years beginning with his fine book A Conflict of Visions. Mahoney writes:
Sowell, it’s true, denies being an intellectual, and we must take him at his word. He renews the critique of “literary politics” first limned by Edmund Burke in Reflections on the Revolution in France and Alexis de Tocqueville in The Old Regime and the Revolution. Burke and Tocqueville both observed a new intellectual type: thinkers inebriated by revolution and the dream of a radically new social order, and dismissive of the inherited wisdom of the past. Burke and Tocqueville didn’t hesitate to denounce injustice when they saw it, whether British oppression of Indians and the Irish or chattel slavery in America. But their critiques drew on the best traditions of Western civilization. They avoided the “rationalist” illusion that the world could be created anew. In this spirit, Sowell refuses to judge ideas by their supposed good intentions, but rather by their effects on human beings.
Read the entire review here.