Founded at Hampden-Sydney College in 2006, the Center for the Study of Political Economy (CSPE) is a co-curricular center with the mission to motivate undergraduate students to create a more just and prosperous world through scholarship in classical liberal political economy. Affiliated faculty and students accomplish the Center's mission through the development of critical thinking skills and research tools necessary for engagement in academic scholarship and public policy analysis.

The faculty, students, and speakers I encountered through CSPE programming always offered new opinions I had not yet considered and new challenges to my beliefs that made me re-consider my worldview. I’m incredibly thankful for the CSPE for providing this vital forum which allowed me to grow as student and as a man.

Samuel G. Johnson ’16, Manager of Academic Network Development for the Institute for Human Studies


  • H-SC and CSPE faculty, students, and alumni presented and discussed current research at the 2023 Association for Private Enterprise Education conference in Cancun.
  • Congratulations to Jacob Smith '23 who was accepted into the Ph.D. program in economics at Middle Tennessee State University, where he will also be a research fellow with the Political Economy Research Institute.
  • Congratulations to David Crego '23 who was accepted into the Ph.D. program in Agricultural and Applied Economics at Texas Tech University, where he will also be a research assistant with the Free Market Institute.

Programs, Lectures, Reading Groups

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.

CSPE Fellowship

The CSPE Fellowship program recruits incoming freshmen and rising sophomores and guides them, through coursework and co-curricular opportunities, as they develop an understanding and begin the application of ideas in the study of political economy. Students will build on rich traditions in economics, philosophy, and politics to analyze how individuals coordinate and govern themselves. The Fellowship program is a companion to the CSPE Senior Fellowship, which may involve internships and independent research.

CSPE Fellowship

CSPE Mission

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.

  • Carilli Receives Teaching Award

    November 30, 2018

    Professor of Economics and Business Tony Carilli was awarded the Kenneth Elzinga Distinguished Teaching Award at the Southern Economics Association meeting in Washington D.C.

    Carilli Award

Contact CSPE

For general information about the CSPE, contact Dr. Justin Isaacs
Director of the CSPE, Professor of Economics and Business | (434) 223-6337

For information on the CSPE Fellowship, contact Dr. "Trey" Byron Carson
Associate Professor of Economics and Business | (434) 223-6375

For information on speakers, contact Dr. Tony Carilli
Professor of Economics and Business | (434) 223-6314

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