Mancur Olson Scholars Reading Groups

Explore new ideas through peer discussion.



The Mancur Olson Scholars program brings together diverse students to study an important topic of our time. By sharing their own views and hearing the perspectives of their peers, scholars experience the value of free expression and develop scholarly skills. 

Each reading group focuses on a central topic with readings pre-selected by the faculty facilitator. The small group size (usually 12-16 students) allows scholars to examine the issues in-depth while building relationships and engaging in civil discourse.

Scholars are invited to think critically and engage in robust discussion of ideas. Civil disagreement with one another and the text is not only accepted, but actively encouraged. All students who complete the reading group receive a scholarship. In addition, students are given opportunities to network with guest speakers and attend exclusive events. 


To be eligible for the Mancur Olson Scholars program, a student must meet all of the following:

  • NDSU student
  • Open to all majors and minors
  • Minimum 3.0 GPA

*Additional requirements may be needed for upper-level reading groups. 


Students who are selected must meet the following expectations:

  • Scholars must attend all scheduled reading group meetings.
  • Scholars must read the assigned texts before each meeting and come prepared to participate in group discussions.
  • Scholars must be willing to explore new ideas and join rigorous debate without engaging in personal attacks. 
  • Scholars must treat the reading group moderator and all other scholars with respect and civility.
Selection Process

Students are selected through a competitive application process. Successful scholars come with an inquisitive mind, an interesting perspective, and a willingness to engage in civil dialogue about potentially controversial issues. 

Upcoming Reading Groups

How We Got Rich

Spring 2023 Reading Group
Tuesdays 4:00-5:00 p.m.

In this reading group, scholars will explore different ideas about how human societies were able to amass enormous wealth in just two centuries. Students will then turn to a discussion about how countries that remain poor today may be able to escape poverty.  Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship. 

The Economics of Sports

Spring 2023 Reading Group
Wednesdays 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Scholars will examine the many ways economics is connected to the world of sports. In this reading group, students will have the opportunity to discuss gender wage disparities, sports subsidies, gambling, NIL regulations, player safety, and other hot topics in sports today. Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship.

Current Reading Groups

Financial Revolutions: From Commodity Money to Cryptofinance

Fall 2022 Reading Group
Wednesdays 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Scholars will explore the evolution of finance from medieval lending standards to emerging trends in cryptocurrency. Students will discuss the future of money as they examine questions related to banking, personal finance, blockchain, and Bitcoin. Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship. 

Conscious Capitalism: An Oxymoron or Not?

Fall 2022 Reading Group
Tuesdays 5:00-6:00 p.m.

Scholars will explore historical challenges posed by capitalism and discuss whether conscientious companies have moved capitalism closer to its highest potential, fostering a more positive environment for everyone. Students will examine how capitalism can create value for all stakeholders. Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship. 


The Mancur Olson Scholars program launched in fall 2017. Since then, 100 scholars have participated in reading groups.

See reading groups archives.



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