Reading Groups

Explore interesting texts and ideas with civil discourse.

Student Programs

Mancur Olson Scholars

The Mancur Olson Scholars undergraduate 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. 

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. In addition, students are given opportunities to network with guest speakers and attend exclusive events. 

Learn more about the program. The deadline to apply for a spring 2023 reading group is November 28, 2022

Upcoming Reading Groups

How We Got Rich
Spring 2023 Reading Group
Tuesdays 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

We are vastly wealthier than our ancestors. 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.

Learn more and apply.

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.

Learn more and apply.

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. 

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. 

Mancur Olson Graduate Fellows

The Mancur Olson Graduate Fellowship aims to engage students in critical thinking, inquiry, and discussion surrounding issues of economic opportunity and flourishing. 

Fellowships are open to Ph.D. students from any discipline at NDSU. Selected students receive a stipend and must meet program requirements, including participating in a graduate student reading group. 

Learn more about the program.

Introduction to Public Choice

This discussion group surveys the big topics of public choice theory, including collective action, constitutions, voting, rent-seeking, bureaucratic decision-making, and political exchange. Participants will grapple with the great problem that societies need governments to address social problems; but governments predictably fail to solve these problems while creating new ones. This group is about understanding why, how, and what can be done about it. 

Reading texts from:

  • The Calculus of Consent by James Buchanan
  • The Myth of the Rational Voter by Bryan Caplan
  • The Logic of Collective Action by Mancur Olson
  • The Rise and Decline of Nations by Mancur Olson
  • The Social Dilemma by Gordon Tullock
  • Bureaucracy by Gordon Tullock
  • Selected articles and media



Top of page