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In survey after survey, data reveals a startling trend – support for socialism is growing among Americans. Depending on which poll you read, as many as 55 percent of Americans under the age of 30 “have a positive view of socialism”. Yet many Americans don’t actually know the definition of socialism or misidentify it.

This May, join Acton scholars in New Orleans for a deep dive into the economic system that has defined the American experiment. Conference attendees will explore the moral foundation of free markets and learn how to address the critiques and common misperceptions of our market economy.

Conference attendance is by application only. This conference is ideal for students and others with limited expertise in the field of economics. Conference fees, meals, and lodging will be covered for accepted applicants. Travel scholarships are available. Applications close March 30th.

Paul J. Bonicelli, Ph.D.
Acton Institute

Director of Programs and Education

Paul J. Bonicelli, Ph.D. served as executive vice president at Regent University (VA), provost at Houston Baptist University (TX), and dean of academic affairs at Patrick Henry College (VA). He began his teaching career as assistant professor of political science at Grove City College (PA) and has taught as an adjunct professor for the Rep. Bill Archer Fellows Program of the University of Texas in Washington, DC. He holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Tennessee, an MA in Public Policy from Regent University, and a BA in English from the University of Memphis. Prior to embarking on a career in higher education, he served as a researcher and analyst in Washington, DC on trade issues and democracy promotion.

Government Service: Bonicelli served in President George W. Bush’s administration at the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and was tasked with advancing the cause of political and economic freedom by means of US foreign assistance. He was confirmed by the US Senate to serve as assistant administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean, overseeing all foreign assistance programs in the region. Pursuant to the president’s second inaugural address and his national security strategy, Bonicelli worked with the National Security Council and the State Department to devise and implement the president’s Freedom Agenda. The goal of the agenda was to support peoples seeking to build ordered liberty in their countries. During his time in the administration Bonicelli had oversight of USAID’s global democracy and governance programs (80 countries as well as international organizations), testified before Congress three times, served as head of delegation in multilateral fora and represented the United States in negotiations with foreign governments and international organizations.

Politics, Policy and Media Experience: Bonicelli has been a foreign policy advisor for several presidential campaigns and currently serves on two committees of the John Hay Initiative (Human Rights and Democracy, International Development) offering specific expertise on foreign policy that supports liberty abroad. He serves as a senior advisor to the Center for Strategic and International Studies, and maintains a regular national and international media presence (television, radio, web) providing opinion and commentary via various news outlets. He writes regularly on international relations for Foreign Policy magazine’s Shadow Government blog as well as for The Federalist. He is a member of the board of directors of American Majority and Voter Gravity (electoral politics training and voter technology development).


J. Daryl Charles, Ph.D.
Acton Institute

Affiliated Scholar

  1. J. Daryl Charles is a 2018 Affiliate Scholar of the Acton Institute, serves as a contributing editor of the journal Providence: A Journal of Christianity and American Foreign Policy and the journal Touchstone, and is an affiliated scholar of the John Jay Institute. Charles is author, co-author or editor of fifteen books, including, most recently, (with Mark David Hall) America’s Wars: A Just War Perspective(University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming), Natural Law and Religious Freedom: The Role of Moral First Things in Grounding and Protecting the First Freedom(Routledge, 2017), (with David B. Capes) Thriving in Babylon: Essays on Honor of A.J. Conyers (Pickwick, 2011), A Return to Moral First Things: Retrieving the Natural Law (Eerdmans, 2008), and Virtue amidst Vice (Sheffield Academic Press, 1997).

He has taught at Taylor University and Union University, served as director and senior fellow of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice, and was a 2013/14 visiting professor in the honors program at Berry College. Charles served as a 2007/8 William B. Simon visiting fellow in religion and public life at the James Madison Program, Princeton University, as well as the 2003/4 visiting fellow of the Institute for Faith & Learning, Baylor University. The focus of Charles’ research and writing is religion and society, the ethics of war and peace, the natural law, and Christian social ethics. Prior to entering the university classroom, Charles did public policy work in the realm of criminal justice in Washington, DC.

Victor V. Claar, Ph.D.
Acton Institute

Affiliate Scholar in Economics

Victor Claar is BB&T Distinguished Professor of Free Enterprise at Florida Gulf Coast University and an affiliate scholar of the Acton Institute. A past Fulbright Scholar at the American University of Armenia, Professor Claar has a long, impressive record of publications, including his influential book, Economics in Christian Perspective: Theory, Policy and Life Choices (2007), now in its fifth printing and recently translated into Chinese. Professor Claar is also the author of Fair Trade? Its Prospects as a Poverty Solution (2012), an incisive, thoughtful work that challenges us all to rethink how we buy what we need and want. You can follow him on Twitter @ VictorClaar.

Trey Dimsdale, J.D.
Acton Institute

Director of Program Outreach

Trey Dimsdale came to the Acton Institute from Fort Worth, Texas, where he served as the Associate Director and Research Fellow in Law and Public Policy for the Richard Land Center for Cultural Engagement. At the Land Center, Trey helped to administrate a very active calendar of events that involved students, academics, and pastors from around the broader Christian world. Trey is actively involved as a board member and advisor for the National Faith and Work Association, the Lausanne Movement’s Workplace Forum, and as an organizer of a program in the Balkans that seeks to equip unemployed and underemployed young people to launch new businesses.


Trey served for several years as assistant pastor for preaching, teaching, and theology on the staff of a church near Kansas City, Missouri where one of his primary responsibilities, in addition to regular preaching and teaching, was the oversight of a fully accredited K12 Christian school.

Trey holds a B.L.A. degree with emphases in Political Science, History, and Natural Sciences from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a Juris Doctor from the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law, as well as a master’s degree in theology and ethics. While in law school Trey was an active member and officer in the student division of the Federalist Society for Law and Public Policy, a member of the UMKC National Moot Court Team and Moot Court Board, and a staff editor of the Urban Lawyer journal, the official journal of the ABA’s Local Government Practice Division. He also served as a clerk with judges on the Jackson County, Missouri Circuit Court, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Western District, and the United States District Court for the District of Kansas. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas.

His academic interests include entrepreneurship, business ethics, legal ethics, political philosophy, and public theology.

P.J. Hill, Ph.D.
Property and Environment Research Center

Senior Fellow

P.J. Hill, Ph.D. is professor emeritus of economics at Wheaton College in Wheaton, Ill. and senior fellow of the Property and Environment Research Center (PERC), in Bozeman, Mont. He received his B.S. in agricultural economics from Montana State University and his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Chicago. His latest book, with Terry Anderson, is The Not So Wild, Wild West: Property Rights on the Frontier (2004).

Stephen Presley, Ph.D.
Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Church History and Director of the Center for Early Christian Studies

Stephen Presley, Ph.D. holds degrees from Baylor University, Dallas Seminary, and the University of St. Andrews. He currently serves as Associate Professor of Church History and Director of the Southwestern Center for Early Christian Studies. He teaches a variety of graduate and postgraduate courses in Church History and Patristics at Southwestern. His research and teaching are intentionally interdisciplinary and he integrates Biblical Studies, theology and history. His areas of research include early Christian theology and exegesis, the church fathers, second century, historical theology, biblical theology, and history of biblical interpretation.

Event Details

Start Date

End Date


Le Pavillon
833 Poydras ST
New Orleans, LA 70112
United States


To be determined 


Conference fees, meals, and lodging will be covered for accepted applicants. Travel scholarships are available. 

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