The mission of the Center for the Study of Political Economy

To motivate undergraduate students to create a more just and prosperous world through entrepreneurship and scholarship in classical liberal political economy

As educators in a liberal arts environment, we seek to encourage and facilitate the development of critical thinking skills and to inspire students to set and reach goals to enrich their lives and the world they live in.  To this end, our program goals are to:

  1. foster the idea that the foundations of social order can be discovered through reason, critical thinking, and the application of the scientific method,
  2. investigate the role that individual rights and markets play in the creation of just and prosperous societies,
  3. motivate students to actively seek opportunities in entrepreneurship and scholarship both while at Hampden-Sydney College and beyond, and
  4. develop a network of alumni and friends who wish to remain engaged with the mission of the CSPE.

In an effort to accomplish our mission and goals we have created a progressive strategy that provides co-curricular opportunities for students to be actively engaged throughout their academic careers and beyond.  By facilitating events and activities for students who are exploring, engaging and creating in the classical liberal tradition, students are able to develop their skills and knowledge as they find their passion for entrepreneurship and scholarship.


The CSPE political economy program encourages students to investigate the relationship between political structures and social outcomes. Our goal is to provide opportunities for students who have an interest in the rationale and effects of public policy to develop the research, reasoning and communication skills necessary to prepare them for graduate programs and "idea" careers. By sponsoring a progressive series of programs from public lectures and reading groups to writing workshops and student research grants we create a community where students can explore and develop their passion for ideas.

Lecture Series

The CSPE sponsors public lectures by scholars working in the classical liberal tradition field of political economy to discuss their work with the college community. While the Political Economy Lecture Series serves as an accessible means for the general student body to explore these ideas, intimate dinners with the scholars also provides a unique opportunity for selected students and faculty to engage respected scholars and thinkers. Past speakers have included Michael Shermer, founder of Skeptic Magazine, P.J. O'Rourke, political commentator, and Gad Saad-author of The Consuming Instinct.

Reading Groups

Our political economy reading groups are weekly meetings of students and faculty- from departments as diverse economics, philosophy, rhetoric, history and classics- interested in exploring how prevailing ideas affect our society.

Communicating Ideas Contest

The CSPE sponsors writing contests on two blogs: Explanatory Power, a forum for exploring how economics helps us understand the world we live in, and Because., a forum for unraveling philosophical puzzles. By offering prizes for the best essays and answers posted by students we encourage students to take the first steps in presenting reasoned arguments for the critique of their peers.

Center for the Study of Political Economy

Professor Justin Isaacs, Director
Brown Student Center
Hampden-Sydney, VA 23943

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