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Free Market Institute Receives $1.7 Million Grant

The Free Market Institute received money to study origins of economic freedom, prosperity.

Written by John Davis

The Free Market Institute will use the grant to research the origins of economic freedom.

Texas Tech University’s Free Market Institute (FMI) received a $1.7 million three-year grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study the origins of economic freedom and prosperity.

The grant also will fund post-doctoral fellowships, visiting professors, doctoral student fellowships, guest lecturers, summer research stipends and a major conference.

“This will be the largest grant the Free Market Institute has received since the initial pledge of $4 million that founded the institute,” said Benjamin Powell, director of the institute. “It’s going to significantly increase our activity. This grant will bring more than 50 scholars, post-doctoral students, visiting professors and guest lecturers to Texas Tech during the course of the next three years. It will help us make a significant contribution to better understanding the social change dynamics that lead to a freer and more prosperous society.”

Daniel Austin Green, director of Freedom and Free Enterprise at the Templeton Foundation, said the research conducted by Texas Tech will provide greater insight about the more fundamental question of which institutions bring about economic freedoms.

“We won’t just be learning more about how to make societies prosperous, but about the deeper culture and values that will sustain freedom and prosperity long into the future,” he said. “The main research project funded by the grant will study what causes countries or U.S. states to adopt institutions that support an environment of economic freedom that causes prosperity.”

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How economic freedom is improved is much less understood than the benefits that freedom provides, Powell said, and the research project will address this major gap in that understanding.

“If private property and economic freedom are essential for achieving and maintaining a high standard of living, then it is crucial to understand specifically how improvements in these areas have been achieved and if there are lessons that are replicable in less free areas of the world or less free U.S. states today,” he said.

Texas Tech President M. Duane Nellis said that understanding economic questions such as the one covered in the grant make Texas Tech’s FMI stand out as a research institute and can have far-reaching applications that impact millions of people.

It will be interesting to see what Dr. Powell and others uncover as they work toward a better understanding of how economic freedom and prosperity interact,” Nellis said. “I appreciate Dr. Powell’s continued efforts to secure external sources for funding.”

The Templeton Foundation serves as a philanthropic catalyst for discoveries relating to the big questions of human purpose and ultimate reality. It supports research on subjects ranging from complexity, evolution and infinity to creativity, forgiveness, love and free will. The organization encourages civil, informed dialogue among scientists, philosophers, and theologians and between such experts and the public at large, for the purposes of definitional clarity and new insights.

“In its first year since opening, the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech is already making a tremendous impact on our students, faculty and campus,” said Texas Tech Chancellor Kent Hance. “This $1.7 million grant is just another example of the institute’s excellence, and we are proud of Dr. Powell and his team’s efforts to highlight the importance of free market thinking and economic freedom.”

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Free Market Institute

The mission of the Free Market Institute at Texas Tech is to advance the teaching of and research directly related to the virtues of free markets. The Institute promotes scholarship that crosses disciplinary boundaries, providing a forum that encourages and values discussion and rigorous debate regarding all aspects of free markets.

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