From June 18-21, over 900 participants from 85 different countries came together at Acton University to explore the intellectual foundations of a free society. Choosing from 100 courses led by 53 guest lecturers, the participants grappled with concepts essential to individual liberty and human flourishing.
Topics focused on theology, morality, anthropology, history, civil society, and free-market economics. Rev. Robert Sirico, President of Acton Institute, set the theme for the conference in his opening speech, declaring, "This contemplation of our [human] nature, alternating at times between man's transcendence and baseness, is nonetheless a necessary first step to an ordered liberty suited to man's dignity."
Other keynote speakers inspired the assembly, including Marina Nemat, a political prisoner of the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 and author of two books on her ordeal titled Prisoner of Tehran and After Tehran: A Life Reclaimed; William McGurn, former chief speechwriter for President George W. Bush and current editorial page editor at the New York Post; and Samuel Gregg, Director of Research at Acton University and author of the recently published Becoming Europe: Economic Decline, Culture, and how America can Avoid A European Future.
The PovertyCure DVD series produced by Michael Matheson Miller and James Fitzgerald Jr. was also exhibited to participants at a sample screening, documenting the harm done to people in developing nations by foreign aid. The film powerfully illustrates how stimulating local enterprise better reinforces the dignity of the human person and constitutes a more comprehensive solution to worldwide poverty.
Acton University is open to anyone interested in deepening their understanding of the integration of sound economics, rigorous philosophy, and the Judeo-Christian faith. To download lectures from this year's event, visit university.acton.org.
For Detroit-area high school economics teacher, Adam Vallus, teaching is more than just testing and information regurgitation, but fostering the young adults who will soon become members of the familial, social and economic spheres/ marketplaces. In order to continue to foster such a learning environment, Mr. Vallus is committed to furthering his own education as a life-long student. His mentor and University of Detroit Mercy Professor, Harry Veryser, who recognized Mr. Vallus' commitment to his students, recommended Acton University as an intellectual investment in himself and his students.
The Acton Institute's four-day conference impressed and challenged Mr. Vallus in his own understanding of free market economics and connected him to a greater community of like-minded thinkers. After his experience, Mr. Vallus hopes to continue participating as a student at Acton University in the future. Just as Acton University has equipped Mr. Vallus with knowledge, so may Lamphere High School's economics class in Madison Heights equip students with that very knowledge.
Professor Harry Veryser of University of Detroit Mercy was responsible for yet another Acton University freshman attendee—Allan Mendell. However, this story begins much earlier than the opening night of Acton University. As a graduate fresh out of his bachelor of economics program at the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, Allan yearned to defend his country and had his eyes set on being a pilot in the United States Air Force. However, Allan was soon informed that he did not qualify to become a member of the military due to a medical condition. With his aspirations of defending his country unmet, Allan met Veryser who prescribed a different means to defending his country, by pursuing his master in economics. Allan could still hear the words of his professor and mentor ringing true during our interview: "If you really want to defend liberty, become an Austrian economist."
As Allan was recommended by Veryser to attend Acton University, he discovered PovertyCure and began to learn more about the Acton Institute and its mission of "connecting good intentions with sound economics." One thing Allan hoped to achieve at Acton University was to meet other like-minded individuals his age. By the end of the week, Allan had exceeded his hopes and expectations, stating that as an attendee of events hosted by the Philadelphia Society, the Mises Institute and the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Acton University was by far the most comprehensive and best experience he has had. Allan explained that Acton Unversity's religious aspect, its emphasis on the morality of free persons and markets and its ability to bring a young, diverse demographic was unmatched by any other organization. Allan plans on being a lifelong student of Acton University in his effort to defend America's principles of ordered liberty as an economist.
Acton's Director of Research, Samuel Gregg, has written a new book, Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case For Limited Government, A Free Economy And Human Flourishing. The book, available on September 1, will be published by The Crossroad Publishing Company.
Tea Party Catholic draws upon Catholic social teaching, natural law theory, and the life and work of the only Catholic signer of the Declaration of Independence, Charles Carroll of Carrollton.
Archbishop of Sydney, Australia, Cardinal George Pell, had this to say about Gregg's new work, "In Centesimus Annus, Blessed John Paul II called for a 'society of free work, enterprise and participation.' In Tea Party Catholic, Samuel Gregg has put flesh on the skeleton. His work will reignite interest in the critical notion of the common good. Furthermore, it will help educate upcoming generations about the richness, diversity, and necessity of Catholic social teaching. It is a remarkably good read!"
In a July 1 essay for Intercollegiate Review, Gregg had this to say:
"Today Charles Carroll is primarily remembered as the only Catholic to sign the Declaration of Independence. Rather fewer people know that Carroll was also a strong believer in economic freedom— and not merely because he recognized all the economic problems associated with what Adam Smith called "the mercantile system" that dominated Europe from the 1500s until the end of the 18th century. Carroll's commitment to economic liberty was also, in all likelihood, influenced by the moral teachings of his faith."
Tea Party Catholic, which follows Gregg's successful publication Becoming Europe, will be available through the Acton Book Shop as well as major book retailers.