The Market for Ideas Reading Groups

Market for Ideas Reading GroupsThe Market for Ideas Reading Groups provide a forum for students to engage with key texts in economics and related disciplines with a cohort of their peers under the guidance of a Bagwell Center affiliated faculty member. Each reading group will meet for a total of four hours per semester to discuss readings assigned by the faculty member. Student participants will receive the assigned reading materials, plus a $200 honorarium for each reading group completed (each individual student can potentially participate in up to three reading groups).

Application deadline for the Fall 2019 semester is Friday, July 26, 2019.


  • Remain enrolled as a student in good standing at Kennesaw State University throughout participation in the Market for Ideas Reading Group.
  • Attend and actively participate in the scheduled program.
  • Arrive on time and prepared for each meeting, having carefully read any assigned readings in advance.
  • Participants are also encouraged to attend Bagwell Center events and to build relationships with other participants and Bagwell Center faculty.
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Fall 2019 Offerings 

  • Title: Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything
    Author: Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
    Description: Freakonomics is a groundbreaking collaboration between Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, an award-winning author and journalist. They set out to explore the inner workings of a crack gang, the truth about real estate agents, the secrets of the Ku Klux Klan, and much more. Through forceful storytelling and wry insight, they show that economics is, at root, the study of incentives—how people get what they want or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing.
    Faculty leader: Prof. James Boudreau
  • Title: Humanomics: Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations for the Twenty-First Century
    Authors: Vernon L. Smith and Bart J. Wilson
    Description: While neoclassical analysis works well for studying impersonal exchange in markets, it fails to explain why people conduct themselves the way they do in their personal relationships with family, neighbors, and friends. In Humanomics, Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon L. Smith and his long-time co-author Bart J. Wilson bring their study of economics full circle by returning to the founder of modern economics, Adam Smith. Sometime in the last 250 years, economists lost sight of the full range of human feeling, thinking, and knowing in everyday life. Smith and Wilson show how Adam Smith's model of sociality can re-humanize twenty-first century economics by undergirding it with sentiments, fellow feeling, and a sense of propriety the stuff of which human relationships are built. Integrating insights from The Theory of Moral Sentiments and the Wealth of Nations into contemporary empirical analysis, this book shapes economic betterment as a science of human beings.
    Faculty leader: Prof. J.C. Bradbury

  • Title: The Armchair Economist: Economics and Everyday Life
    Author: Steven E. Landsburg
    Description: In The Armchair Economist, Steven Landsburg applies economic theory to today’s most pressing concerns, answering a diverse range of daring questions such as:

Why are seat belts deadly?
Why do celebrity endorsements sell products?
Why are failed executives paid so much?
Who should bear the cost of oil spills? Do government deficits matter?
How is workplace safety bad for workers?
What’s wrong with the local foods movement?
Which rich people can’t be taxed?
Why is rising unemployment sometimes good?
Why do women pay more at the dry cleaner?
Why is life full of disappointments?

Whether these are nagging questions you’ve always had, or ones you never even thought to ask, this new edition of The Armchair Economist turns the eternal ideas of economic theory into concrete answers that you can use to navigate the challenges of contemporary life.
Faculty leader: Prof. Timothy Mathews