Teaching snuck up on Geri Mason, an assistant professor of economics at SPU. She disliked public speaking in high school, and was not drawn to the classroom in the large public university that she attended. She figured she would become a researcher, but accepted a one-year visiting professorship as a way to help finance graduate school. In a relatively small, Christian institution, she found that the motivation level of the students and the opportunity to have meaningful interaction with them was very enjoyable and deeply fulfilling. She was hooked.
After joining the SBGE faculty in 2010, she wanted to continue academic interaction with a broad group of scholars, and she was deliberate about involvement in such opportunities both inside and outside SPU. She joined a faculty group of the American Enterprise Institute, a faith-based economics think tank in Washington, DC, that facilitates a network for faculty members who are teaching economics or political science — mostly those in Christian colleges or universities.
Through this network she met Tom Copeland, a political scientist. They were both intrigued with the idea of introducing students to the historical roots from which both modern economics and political science spring. From this past-to-present perspective, how does the political economy affect the market economy, and vice versa? And how do we think about these matters from a faith perspective? These questions led to the development of a new study abroad opportunity, “Liberty and the Free Market in England.”
A grant from the CCCU supported the research and development of the idea and another grant from the Charles Koch Foundation is funding the pilot trip this summer.