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 books pre-selected by the faculty facilitator. The small group size (usually about 10 students) allows scholars to build relationships, speak freely, and examine the issues in-depth. 

Reading groups enhance the university experience by helping students explore important ideas, engage in civil discussion, and develop new skills. 

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. Books and meals, when applicable, are provided by PCPE. 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. Applicants are evaluated on their written and oral responses from the online application and an in-person interview. Successful scholars come with an inquisitive mind, an interesting perspective, and a willingness to engage in civil dialogue about potentially controversial issues. 

Current Reading Groups

The Great Debate: Marxism vs. The Market

Scholars will explore the great debate between the competing economic systems of socialism and free market capitalism. We will discuss the merits and criticisms of each system and their path forward in America in 2020. Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship.

Society vs. the Environment?

Scholars will explore how human societies around the world interact with their environments and examine the conditions necessary to maintain the delicate balance between using the environment for immediate benefits and preserving it for future use. Each participant will receive a $500 scholarship. 

Upcoming Reading Groups

There are currently no upcoming reading groups. This section will be updated when our spring 2020 reading groups are announced.



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