I'm pleased to announce an important collaboration with Shimer College here in Chicago. I will teach the first, full-length college course of the College of the United States program:  "The Morality of Capitalism." 
Here's how it all happened...
 
Herb Walberg, Chairman of the Heartland Institute, had suggested that I talk to the president of Shimer about offering a "test" course based on our program. Last March I met with the new Shimer president, Tom Lindsay, who is the former president of the University of Dallas and founder of the We the People educational project of the National Endowment for the Humanities.
 
After a productive discussion about the College of the United State's (COTUS) aims and Shimer's needs, President Lindsay directed me to talk to Shimer's longtime natural sciences professor Jim Donovan, who identifies himself as a Hayekian.
 
Jim volunteered to sponsor a COTUS course as an elective. This fall I was invited to propose several courses. "The Morality of Capitalism" course-listing generated enough registrants to meet Shimer's requirements. I will be the lead instructor, teaching this course with Shimer's professor Donovan, beginning January 21st.

You may be interested in Shimer's background and reputation...
 
Shimer College is a fully accredited and well-respected small liberal arts school now residing on the campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), near downtown Chicago. Founded in 1853 in Mount Carroll, Illinois, Shimer adopted the "Hutchins Plan" as the basis of its curriculum in 1950. This plan is a variation of the Great Books program created by then-University of Chicago president Robert Maynard Hutchins and his committee of intellectual luminaries such as Mortimer Adler, Richard McKeon, and Mark Van Doren. The curriculum based on this plan helped make Shimer an outstanding liberal arts institution.

Shimer is one of the few colleges in the nation that uses the Great Books classics for the vast majority of its classes, and Socratic seminars as its teaching method. One result: Shimer produces one of the highest rates of graduates with doctorates of any institution in America.
 
Recently, some Shimer trustees raised concerns that the program has included more contemporary, post-modern works than is warranted by the Hutchins plan, and that more classic works about freedom need to be included in the curriculum. This proposal meshes perfectly with the College of the United States program, as do the facts that Shimer already employs the Great Books and the Socratic seminar method.

A summary of the College's first full-length course...
 
The course will run from January 21 to April 21, 2010. Here's a brief description:
 
Capitalism has brought more wealth to more people than any other system in history. In those countries that have adopted capitalism, the standard of living since the Industrial Revolution has far outstripped all the growth of the previous millenia. Yet capitalism is often reviled as evil or, at the best, amoral.
 
What are the facts? Is capitalism good or evil? How do we determine its moral status?
 
In this course we will consider the facts and arguments concerning these issues and examine the question "Is there a moral basis for capitalism?"
 
Given the conventional attitude towards capitalism, this will be one of the most unusual classes in the nation.
 
I anticipate that most students will arrive at the course influenced by the many collectivist, anti-capitalist ideas that are pervasive in education and the culture. We'll closely examine the wildly diverging ideas of thinkers - ancient to modern, communist to capitalist - and the results: human life under collectivism versus human life under capitalism. And we'll explore the visions embodied in the widely disparate ethics that are at the foundation of these conflicting ideologies.
 
Here are some of the readings, which are filled with challenging ideas...

Students will read selections from a wide variety of famous works, representing many contrasting and conflicting ideas about the foundation of ethics, the good society, and capitalism. These will include powerful and influential texts from Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics to Locke's Second Treatise on Government and Smith's The Wealth of Nations...from Marx and Engels' The Communist Manifesto to Mises' The Anti-Capitalist Mentality...from Rand's Capitalism: the Unknown Ideal to Rawls' A Theory of Justice.
 
In addition to exposing the students to the full range of ideas about capitalism, the College's teaching methods will emphasize the use of reason, analysis, and facts. Our specialized approach to discussing the texts will encourage students to develop their own, independent, fact-based, rational judgments and arrive at their own conclusions.

From the classroom to the trading floor...
 
Students will also be required to write two papers, at the beginning and the end of the course, on their conception of capitalism, followed by discussions of their evolving conceptions.
 
To integrate "real world" knowledge with the ideas they've studied, students will be required to interview individuals working in business and in charities, and give presentations on what they learned.
 
You can read more detail about the course content  and practical arrangements here.
 
Visiting students may attend for credit...
 
Currently, Shimer, is advertising the class to its own students and to IIT students. But Shimer will also accept outside students. Any student who successfully completes the class will receive full college credit. This includes qualifying students still in high-school.
 
If you know students in the Chicago area who could benefit from attending this course, please forward this message to their parents. For more specific information about the course content, please have them contact me by email or phone.
 
Students may register on-campus the morning and early afternoon of Wednesday, January 20.  Students unable to register at that time are welcome to contact the Registrar, Jim Ulrich (j.ulrich@shimer.edu) in advance to make alternative plans. Tuition is $3,000 for the semester-long course, which includes all books, other reading material, and field trips. A limited number of partial scholarships for well-qualified students are available from the Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute. Shimer's address is 3424 S. State, Chicago, IL. Telephone: 312-235-3500.
 
After this promising start, where does the College go?

Following what I anticipate will be a successful "test run" with this course, we're aiming to expand our relationship with Shimer and develop an institute within that college.
 
Our proposed Institute at Shimer will offer select portions of our College of the United States program to students of Shimer and IIT. I will send you more information about the proposed institute soon.
 
For now, please help us develop this program by spreading the word about the College's first official course, "The Morality of Capitalism." Please forward this message to friends and colleagues, and recommend the program to students and their parents.
 
Once again, thanks for your interest and support - it's crucial  to changing the face of higher education by establishing our revolutionary program.
 
Feel free to write or call me at 773.677.6418 if you have any questions.
 
Sincerely,
Stephen Hicks
Marsha Familaro Enright
President
 
  
Reason, Individualism, Freedom Institute