The Economics and Political Theory of Social Change

Weekend Conference at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill

January 25-26, 2013 Register!

How do we explain social change?

Undergraduate students, the weekend of January 25-26, 2013, you are invited to join the Institute for Humane Studies for a weekend seminar, co-hosted by the PPE program at UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University, that will explore two schools of thought—Austrian Economics and Public Choice Theory—and compare their accounts of how social change happens.

Discussions and lectures will draw upon the Austrian School’s heavy hitters (such as F.A. Hayek, Ludwig von Mises, and Israel Kirzner) and highlight thinkers from the Public Choice Theory camp (like James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock, and Geoffrey Brennan).

You may be surprised to discover that despite distinct methodologies and operating assumptions, thinkers from both schools arrive at multiple common conclusions about the legitimate scope of governmental action, the proper role of institutions, and the value of human freedom.

Walk away with a conceptual understanding of what kind of change is possible and tangible ideas of how you can effect meaningful change.


There is no cost to attend any of the lectures or seminars. All educational materials, meals, and snacks are provided. Participants are responsible for travel and lodging arrangements and costs.


Undergraduate students of all majors are eligible.

Space is limited and registration is required to attend. Please sign up in advance of the January 5th deadline. 



  • Geoffrey Brennan, Professor of Philosophy at UNC
  • Kevin Hoover, Professor of Economics and Philosophy at Duke
  • Loren Lomasky, Director of the Political Philosophy, Policy, and Law Program at the University of Virginia
  • Geoffrey Sayre-McCord, Professor of Philosophy at UNC
  • Michael Valdez-Moses, Founding member of the Gerst Program for Political, Economic, and Humanistic Studies at Duke
  • Georg Vanberg, Professor of Political Science at UNC
  • Bruce Caldwell, Professor of Economics at Duke

Sample Topic List (not comprehensive & subject to change):

  • Hayek’s contributions to social theory and the challenges of his legacy
  • Challenges to Austrian/Public Choice paradigms
  • Austrian and Public Choice models of human and political action
  • Voting and democratic participation from a Public Choice perspective
  • Spontaneous order, culture, and globalization

Schedule (subject to change)


3:30-4:00 Registration
4:15-5:00 Introductory Remarks
5:00-6:15 Lecture
6:15-7:30 Dinner
7:30-8:45 Lecture
8:45-10:00 Social


9:00-10:00 Breakfast
10:00-11:15 Lecture
11:15-11:30 Break
11:30-12:45 Lecture
12:45-3:15 Lunch and Free Time
3:15-4:30 Lecture
4:30-5:30 Faculty-led Discussion Groups
5:30-6:45 Dinner
6:45-8:00 Lecture
8:00-8:15 Closing Remarks
8:15-9:15 Social