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A Week at Cato University

While many people took their summer vacations getting away from it all, more than 200 professionals, business people, college students, and retirees spent a week in early August exploring the ideas of liberty at the Cato University Summer Seminar. Held August 1–7 at Rancho Bernardo Inn, about 20 miles from San Diego, the program featured lectures and discussions on American history, law, economics, psychology, philosophy, and public policy.

In announcing the August seminar, Cato University director Tom G. Palmer said, "This program gives you the chance to recapture the intense intellectual atmosphere of your college days, in a climate where the lecturers and other participants share your fundamental ideas about freedom and justice. The schedule of lectures and discussions is designed to impart a great deal of information and analysis and encourage spirited discussion about the implications of the basic ideas."

The faculty included some of the country's most spirited and brightest defenders of liberty. Alan Charles Kors, professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and coauthor of The Shadow University, discussed the roots of liberty and the state of academia today. Randy Barnett, professor of law at Boston University and author of The Structure of Liberty, gave a sneak preview of his forthcoming book during his talk "The Constitutional Presumption of Liberty." (Excerpts of Barnett's remarks are available on the September edition of CatoAudio.) Don Boudreaux, president of the Foundation for Economic Education, discussed the economics of law and the illogic of politics. Historian Paula Baker of the University of Pittsburgh discussed the growth of the American welfare state and American liberty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Guest lecturers included psychologist Nathaniel Branden, author of Taking Responsibility, who examined liberty and responsibility from a psychological viewpoint, and philosopher Christina Hoff Sommers, author of Who Stole Feminism? who discussed the way America has become "the republic of feelings." Cato's Edward H. Crane, David Boaz, Ted Galen Carpenter, Robert A. Levy, and Tom Palmer also spoke.

The attendees heaped glowing praise on the summer seminar. "The Cato University Summer Seminar was one of the most intellectually exciting times of my life," said Kyle Larsen of Valrico, Florida. "All of the speakers were engaging and entertaining, and the friendships I have built with some of the fellow participants have far outlasted the week of the conference."

"Excellent organization and production," said Lyn Weingarten of Austin, Texas. "Talks were the right length with plenty of time for clarification and discussion."

"Overall we enjoyed the week immensely, felt uplifted and educated, and are mulling over how much we can increase our annual Cato donation," said David and Shirley Gilbreath of St. George, Utah.

Scholarships from the Opportunity Foundation allowed 40 students to participate in the program.

The Cato University program also includes a separate 12-month home-study course that uses audiotapes, books, and an integrated study guide. Another week long seminar and a weekend seminar will be held in 2000. More information about Cato University is available on the Cato University Web site.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 1999 edition of Cato Policy Report.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 1999 edition of Cato Policy Report.