It meant getting up in the wee hours on a July morning when most students were sleeping in, and taking a bumpy van ride to LAX for a long flight to hot and muggy St. Louis, but for five Providence Libertas Scholars, a three-day seminar on Leadership and Economics sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education was a big mid-summer vacation hit. Sophomores Christine Venzor, Olivia Bates, Belen Cruz, and Joshua Frankenfield and senior Pedro Cruz joined 70 students from around the country at Lindenwood University to hear talks, do trading experiments, prepare presentations on solving social problems, embark on a scavenger hunt, play in a trading game, and make connections with students from all over the country—all with the goal of learning about both economics and leadership.

Mr. Rottman chaperoned and spoke three times, along with Professor Antony Davies (who has spoken twice at Providence and employs simulations to explain how well markets work) and entrepreneur TK Coleman, who inspired students with compelling stories and analysis on how to use persuasion and passion to improve society. “Being a leader,” he noted, “forever ruins your world with responsibility.”

Olivia shooting the breeze with friends.
Josh increases his happiness with some fellow traders.

What were the students’ reactions? Christine “enjoyed meeting new people,” and learning how to change the world by doing what you are interested in—“not asking what the world needs, but what makes you come alive because that is what the world needs—people who have come alive.”

Pedro noted that he discovered how government’s efforts to protect people sometimes accomplish the opposite of what their intentions were.

At the City Museum, Josh works on his shooting abilities,
…while Olivia, Christine, and Belen hide out.

Earlier in June, five different Providence students (juniors Emma Gobbell, Chloe Norton, Frankie Harman, Bella Madrigal, and Hanna Garza) flew to Vanderbilt University in Nashville to a different FEE seminar on “Economics in the Real World.”

Frankie noted connections between how economics reveals truth, and truth is essential to the real world, which reminded her of class discussions on Speaker for the Dead. She noted the importance and benefit of applying basic economic principles to your everyday life, such as “the benefit behind looking at the opportunity costs behind everyday decisions or the unseen consequences of a seemingly good decision in the moment.” In bringing up the idea of sunk costs, Chloe said that the seminar was an amazing experience that taught her to apply economic principles to everyday life.

Providence Libertas scholars attend a variety of seminars not only during the summer, but during the school year as well, as part of the Libertas Scholar Program requirements. This summer, half of our 20 Libertas Scholars went to FEE seminars.