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    GRAND RAPIDS (APRIL 26, 2023) – Eight professors and administrators affiliated with universities and across the United States and Canada were recently awarded funding to support faculty research and advance course development.

    The Acton Institute Mini-Grants on Free Market Economics program accepts proposals from faculty members at colleges, seminaries, and universities in the United States and Canada in order to promote the scholarship and teaching of market economics. This program allows for collaboration between faculty from different universities and helps future leaders to emerge, strengthening and expanding the existing network of scholars within economics. Entrants may submit proposals in two broad categories: course development and faculty scholarship.

    Here is the complete list of the 2023 winners and their specific projects:

    ESG Versus Honorable Business
    Allen Mendenhall, Executive Director, Manuel H. Johnson Center for Political Economy and Associate Dean of the Sorrell College of Business at Troy University.

    A continuation of an annual reading group for the Free Enterprise Scholars Program on the topic of “ESG Versus Honorable Business.” Reading group to focus on two books: Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society by Jim Otteson and Other People’s Money by Stephen Soukup and Andrew Puzder.

    Justice in Wages: A Catholic Account of the American Context
    Brian J. A. Boyd, currently Postdoctoral Teaching Scholar at the University of Notre Dame and beginning in August 2023 Assistant Director, Center for Ethics and Economic Justice at Loyola University, New Orleans.

    An expansion and strengthened defense of Abraham Lincoln’s ideal of “free labor” as the just norm for the American worker which the grantee made in his 2022 dissertation, A Just Wage: Equality, Proportionality, and Solidarity in the American Economy. Grant provides funding to enable supplemental research and writing revisions necessary for publication with an academic press.

    Harmel’s STEAM Engine: A Model for Business-Embedded, Skilled Trades Education
    David Michael Phelps, Executive Director and Andy Beach, Director of Manufacturing Services, Harmel Academy of the Trades 

    Development of a business curriculum elective to Machine and System Technology second-year students enabling student operation of the company Mankel Forge. This practicum will train students in all aspects of business management such as marketing, bookkeeping, customer service and relations, business leadership, inventory, facility management, strategic business planning, issuance of purchase orders, servicing market demand, accounting, and philosophy of entrepreneurship.

    Conference on Religious Liberty and Markets in Arkansas
    Jason Jewell, Professor of Humanities, Faulkner University

    Organization of a conference on the state of religious liberty in Arkansas to generate new scholarship on the topic from scholars in economics, political science, history, and law. Conference will feature a workshop for professors to help integrate discussions of economics and religious liberty into their courses and use Religious Liberty in the 50 States as a springboard for new research projects for both faculty and students.

    Catholic Social Thought and Environmental Economics
    Michael V. Szpindor Watson, Assistant Professor of Economics, Director of PPE, Belmont Abbey College

    Development of a capstone course for the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics program PE300W Seminar in Contemporary Problems on Catholic Social Thought and Environmental Economics. Course will cover Catholic Social Thought as it applies to stewardship of the earth culminating in an examination of the students’ policy proposals.

    Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Course
    Mirela Oliva, Professor and Rudman Chair of Philosophy, Center for Thomistic Studies as the University of St. Thomas, Houston

    Development of a new course “Philosophy, Politics, and Economics”, a required gateway course for the minor in Catholic Social Thought. The course will explore the Christian philosophical pillars of economic and political life in the Western tradition.

    Markets and Morality Course Development and Operation
    Rachael Behr, Teaching Professor, Economics Department, Xavier University

    Development of a new course targeting first year students centered on the question, “Do market systems corrupt our morals, or do market systems encourage moral development?” The discussion-based course will examine the issue by reading primary source materials from scholars from Ancient Greece through the modern era, examining both quantitative and qualitative evidence on all sides of the debate.

    Economic Ethics in Judaism and Early Christianity
    Todd Scacewater, Assistant Professor and Chair, College of International Studies

    Organization of a conference panel sponsored by the Journal of Markets and Morality hosted by The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Papers from the conference will focus on ancient ethical discourse about the use of resources and related issues and will be published in the Symposium section of the Journal of Markets and Morality.

    The Mini-Grants program forms part of a range of academic scholarships, grants, and awards available from the Acton Institute that support those engaged in serious reflection and research on the relationship between theology, the free market, limited government and the rule of law. Details of these academic grants and scholarships may be found here.

    About the Acton Institute

    The Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Founded in 1990, the Institute works internationally to “promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.” For more information, visit

    Interviews with Acton Institute staff may be arranged by contacting Eric Kohn, Director of Marketing & Communications, at (616) 454-3080 or at [email protected].