Why did you want to attend RGS?
I attended the Rothbard Graduate Seminar (RGS) in 2023 for several reasons. For one, it fulfilled a requirement as one of the final classes to complete the Mises graduate program. Additionally, RGS was part of the Mises summer fellowship program, which I was also a part of this year. That said, I wanted to attend RGS because of the unique format it provides for graduate-level reading, lectures, and discussions with the professors and fellow attendees.
The readings, both required and supplemental, informed me of things I didn’t even know I needed to read. One of the underappreciated benefits of assigned reading is being told what to read by those who are well-read in the subject. For example, the supplemental reading made me aware of just the right material I needed for a current paper, got me thinking about articles and other writing projects, and informed me of essays and chapters that existed that could be used later.
The lectures paired with immediate access to several professors was invaluable. Getting to know both the professors and the other participants was fun and stimulating. Conversations in the seminars and beyond were extremely helpful in talking through concepts and understanding them better. The interactions between participants were, in my opinion, equally valuable to the discussions with the professors because they helped those of us at different levels of knowledge inform and encourage each other.
What outcomes did you gain from participating in the seminar?
The positive gains from RGS are both tangible and intangible. Some outcomes and benefits are obvious and quantifiable, and others are hard to quantify and precisely explain. A tangible outcome for me was the partial completion of a class and program. Intangible benefits include the incalculable value of connecting with participants and professors, the moments of learning and greater understanding that will inform further study, focused attention on Austrian economics with other people who are serious about Austrian economics, and the ability to raise questions and have us all talk through them.
How did the assigned readings affect your thinking as a young scholar?
As mentioned above, there is great value in being thoughtfully assigned what to read as well as the built-in accountability of having deadlines, which help me be disciplined in reading the things that I have always said I wanted to read. (As Rothbard reminds us, preference can only be demonstrated through action.) The readings deepened and broadened my knowledge base, made me aware of further resources through references and footnotes, informed papers and writing projects, and provided resources that help me as a teacher of governments, economics, and history. I believe we need more teacher-scholars who are passionate about continuing to learn and who will incorporate these things into their teaching.
Who would be an ideal candidate for RGS?
RGS is ideal for the intermediate-and-above student of Austrian economics. While a beginner interested in economics could enjoy and benefit from the program, it helps to have a basis in understanding Austrian economics so a participant can critically analyze the content. Ideal students for RGS are serious about focused study on Austrian economics, willing to study further on their own, and humble enough to know what they don’t know so they can seek greater learning.