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. 

Applications for the fall 2024 reading groups are currently closed. 


Upcoming Reading Groups

AI Revolution
Fall 2024 Reading Group
Mondays 4:00-5:30 p.m.
Location: Richard H. Barry Hall, Downtown Campus

*Note: This group will meet for 7 weeks due to the sessions being 90 minutes in length. 

Led by Dr. Oudom Hean

How is technology reshaping our world and what does this mean for our future? In this reading group, scholars will explore these questions and topics relating to artificial intelligence, virtual reality and the Internet of Things. Group discussion will deepen our understanding of how these innovations are transforming industries and changing how we live, work, and communicate. 

Global Aid
Fall 2024 Reading Group
Thursdays 3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Location: Richard H. Barry Hall, Downtown Campus

Led by Dr. Elizabeth Carlson

Do those who live in wealthy countries have an obligation to help those who live in poorer countries? Help them do what? And is our help really help? This reading group will include books on international development aid policy: what it is, what it should be, and when we should leave well enough alone. 

The Politics of Food
Fall 2024 Reading Group
Tuesdays 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. 

Location: Richard H. Barry Hall, Downtown Campus

Led by Dr. Thomas Krumel

This reading group delves into the complex and contentious world of food choices, sustainability, and global impact. We will navigate through the divergent perspectives presented in two contrasting books that challenge and redefine our understanding of modern food supply and consumption.

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



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