– September 19, 2018

In my lifetime, I’ve never observed more confusion over the issue of international trade. That’s an indicator of a more serious problem, the dearth of economic knowledge among the general public.

Every day, the news is filled with details about negotiations, treaties, agreements, governing bodies, and talk of which countries are taking advantage of other.

AIER has been working hard to bring the talk back to fundamentals. Free trade is good for all parties involved. This insight from the 18th century is accepted by almost all economists, but still has not gone mainstream.

Part of our efforts involve publishing, which you see every day, but we are also seeking another approach too. Let’s teach high school teachers about the topic so that when it comes up in the classroom, they can train a new generation of students to understand the issue. Every teacher we can reach can mean years of training for hundreds and thousands of students. Combined with our publishing program, this can make a huge difference.

Current US policy has made trade issues a dominant issue on the international scene: tariffs, trade deficits, Brexit, the global market, sweatshops, child labor, sanctions, embargoes, renegotiating NAFTA, the EU, WTO – the seemingly endless alphabet of interest groups, treaties, organizations, and trade agreements.

As a classroom topic, international trade has the great advantage of providing ready-made material for teachers wanting to engage student interest in current events. However, the complexity of the issues surrounding trade is daunting.

While economic reasoning doesn’t guarantee resolution of the issues, it is a powerful tool of critical thinking that brings clarity to the discussion of current events. The ability to determine comparative advantage through opportunity cost, the ability to identify incentives and predict resulting behavior, and the ability to use supply and demand analysis of particular labor and resource markets, help students to set aside the emotion of international trade issues and cut through the rhetoric of media reports.

We have three “Teach the Teachers” seminars scheduled over the next couple weeks and our strong focus is on economics of trade. In each we bring in high school teachers to learn economics on our terms. One is in New York, the second is in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one is right outside Saint Louis. Teaching at the events will be AIER staff: AIER’s Max Gulker, AIER’s Peter Earle, and AIER’s Phil Magness.  We have some other seminars in the works as well.

You can see all these events schedule on our Events page.

With these partner programs, we pick the topic and have AIER scholars presenting to teachers and our partners bring high school teacher facilitators to help teachers figure out how to use the materials in their classrooms.

Thanks for sharing these schedules with anyone who might know teachers in New York, San Francisco, or Saint Louis. They will cover core issues that are so important to freedom and prosperity. Our updated Teach the Teachers hopes to inspire a cultural and intellectual shift toward freedom and free markets.

Thank you, as always, for your support.

Edward Peter Stringham

Edward Peter Stringham is President of the American Institute for Economic Research,  Davis Professor of Economic Organizations and Innovation at Trinity College, and editor of the Journal of Private Enterprise. He is editor of two books and author of more than seventy journal articles, book chapters, and policy studies. His work has been discussed in 15 of the top 20 newspapers in the United States and on more than 100 broadcast stations including MTV. Stringham is a frequent guest on BBC World, Bloomberg Television, CNBC, and Fox, and Rise Global ranks Stringham as one of the top 100 most influential economists in the world. He earned his B.A. from College of the Holy Cross in 1997, his Ph.D. from George Mason University in 2002 , and first published with the American Institute for Economic Research in 2003. His book, Private Governance: Creating Order in Economic and Social Life, is published by Oxford University Press
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