ACRE Reading Group

Fall 2019:

The Past, Present, and Future of Work

Monday nights, 5 – 7 p.m.

The history of paid work and labor markets in the US is the story of increasing standards of living. It is also the story of women, immigrants, teenagers, and racial minorities encountering social and legal discrimination, and overcoming it (sometimes). Increasing skills, labor productivity, and wages have often gone hand in hand, though not always. Why not? And what does the future hold? What role does immigration play in labor markets? What about labor unions? And occupational licensing? And the minimum wage? Students will explore these and related questions through readings by a variety of scholars such as Milton Friedman, Claudia Goldin, Price Fishback, and David Card.

Students in this reading group will also have the opportunity to attend a weekend summit in Dallas, TX on Southern Methodist University’s campus where they will meet with other students from Baylor, Texas Tech, and SMU, who have been reading the same works. The summit is mandatory and travel, lodging, and food will be provided. The dates for the summit are September 27-28, 2019.

Enlightenment and Revolution

Tuesday nights, 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.

Students in this reading group will spend eight weeks exploring the intellectual, political, and ideological currents that surged through revolutionary Paris in the summer of 1791. When participate in a Reacting to the Past game on the French Revolution, students take the roles of leaders of major factions within the National Assembly (and in the streets outside) as it struggles to create a constitution amidst internal chaos and threats of foreign invasion. Will the king retain power? Will the priests of the Catholic Church obey the “general will” of the National Assembly or the dictates of the pope in Rome? Do traditional institutions and values constitute restraints on freedom and individual dignity or are they its essential bulwarks? Are slaves, women, and Jews entitled to the “rights of man”? Is violence a legitimate means of changing society or of purging it of dangerous enemies? In wrestling with these issues, students will read and discuss a variety of primary texts, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s Social Contract, Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, and others.

Landmark Supreme Court Cases

Wednesday nights, 5 – 7 p.m.

The Supreme Court is a co-equal part of our federal government along with Congress and the President. And, yet, it is often overlooked or misunderstood. When Congress or the President makes a decision, there is not a legal document showing how that decision was reached. Most Supreme Court decisions, however, come with a legal opinion. Over the course of ten weeks, students in this reading group will read major Supreme Court opinions covering topics such as corporate free speech rights, religious freedom, equal protection, and federalism. Students may also have the opportunity to visit the Arkansas Supreme Court and listen to an oral argument.


For each reading group, sessions are weekly. Dinner is provided each night. A $500 scholarship will be awarded upon completion of the reading group.

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