Big Ideas Live!


The ideas that underpin a free society are big ideas, and they impact every discipline, career, and interest. Join host Janet Neilson monthly for live, interactive events as she talks with experts from a wide range of fields–from markets and morals, to improving the world through entrepreneurship, to what you can learn from how a city neighborhood is organized.

These events are offered at no charge for all ages and knowledge levels, especially high school and college students interested in an introduction to the economic, ethical, and legal ideas that make a free society so exceptional.


Register for an upcoming Big Ideas Live! event below, or check out the events archive for recordings of past events.


Past Event

Tuesday, October 28, 2014
6:00 PM EDT

Can We Teach a Man to Save the Fish?
What is the best way to protect vulnerable wildlife? Can we preserve living creatures if we also view them as resources? And what can fishing teach us about environmental stewardship?

This isn't your typical webinar! Join host Janet Neilson for an interactive discussion with Holly Fretwell of the Property and Environment Research Council on October 28 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Check back soon for archived video and materials to learn:

  • How private ownership can help protect our natural environment
  • About conservation success stories
  • Surprising ways that we can help wild animals and habitats


Past Event

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

6:00 PM EDT

What About the Poor?
Why do some people get trapped in poverty? How do laws, norms, and values affect public policy aimed at alleviating poverty? Will the poor always be with us, and what does that mean?

This isn't your typical webinar! Join host Janet Neilson for an interactive discussion with Prof. Mike Munger of Duke University on October 14 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.

Check back soon for archived video and related materials to learn:

  • About poverty traps, and how they are formed
  • Why some policy problems are so hard to solve
  • Better ways to think about solving social problems


Past Event

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

7:30 PM EDT

Why Doesn't the TSA Keep Us Safe?
What did America give up when it put the TSA in place? Why have so many resources been spent without making travel safer? What did policy makers miss when they put a national air travel security system in place?

Check back soon for archived video and related resources!



Past Event

Wednesday, September 3, 2014
7:00 PM EDT

Why Do We Limit Immigration?
Whatever happened to "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free?" Why did America start restricting immigration? How did the restrictions come about? And what can that tell us about immigration policy today?

Check back soon for archived video and content!


















Past Event

Tuesday, August 12, 2014
8:00 PM EDT

Who Designed Health Care This Way?
Have you ever come up against something that seems ridiculous in the health care system and wondered what kind of oversight lead to it? Do the problems with our system come from people who don't think things through or people who thought things through incorrectly?

Check back soon for archived video and content!



Past Event

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
7:00 PM EDT

Do You Like the Mona Lisa More Than Your Mom?
Why is it so controversial when the government commissions art? Is it crazy to spend millions of dollars on a painting? What is the most valuable art you own? The answers to these questions, and what they can teach us about life and each other, might surprise you.
Join an interactive, online discussion with host Janet Neilson and Dr. Sarah Skwire, a scholar on literature, freedom, and economics.  

Watch the full video and access related materials here!



Past Event

Tuesday, July 8, 2014
7:00 PM EDT

What Does it Cost to Keep Them Out?
What do we give up to get "Made in America?" What are the consequences of requiring visas to live and work somewhere else?
Join host Janet Neilson to participate in an interactive interview with Prof. Don Boudreaux of George Mason University on July 8 at 7:00 p.m. EDT. 

Access related material here!








Past Event

Monday, June 16, 2014
6:00 PM EDT

What can you learn from a city neighborhood?
What makes cities safe? What makes them fun? How do the residents of cities work together with each other and with strangers to make cities work? And what happens when we try to take control of cities? Join host Janet Neilson as she discusses these ideas with Dr. Sanford Ikeda of SUNY, Purchase College on June 16 at 6:00 p.m. EDT.


Past Event

Monday, May 19, 2014

Can we feed the world?
How has the West conquered famine? Does fresh fruit all year round have anything to do with declining hunger around the world? Why could the hundred-mile diet endanger the progress we've made? Host Janet Neilson will discuss these topics with the University of Toronto’s Dr. Pierre Desrochers.

Watch the full video and access related materials here.


Past Event

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Who decides what you eat?
How much do diet and food experts truly know? Why can making decisions on behalf of others be so problematic? Host Janet Neilson will discuss these questions with St. Lawrence University's Dr. Steve Horwitz.

Watch the full video and access related materials here.


Past Event

Monday, April 7, 2014

So you wanna change the world?
What's the best way to change the world? What, exactly, is an entrepreneur, and can you become one? Join host Janet Neilson as she talks with Isaac Morehouse, founder and CEO of Praxis, about how creation and innovation can and are already changing the world - and how you can be a part of it.

Watch the full video and access related materials here.


Past Event

Saturday, March 22, 2014

How much for that kidney in the window?
Do markets make us care less about important topics? Can interacting through markets actually make us care more about each other? We'll talk with Dr. Peter Jaworski of Georgetown University about whether we should be able to sell kidneys and puppies, and how markets matter when it comes to morality.

Access materials related to this event here.



Janet Neilson is the host of FEE’s "Big Ideas Live!" With interests spanning philosophy, economics, ethics, world travel, fitness, literature, and culinary arts, she brings a unique perspective to every event. If you ask Janet, she’ll not only tell you how thorough thinking benefits every academic interest and profession, she’ll also show you how big ideas are intuitive, using everyday examples and thought-provoking stories from the most interesting experts around. Her goal is to ignite the flame of freedom in every young person’s heart.

Janet is a founding director of the Institute for Liberal Studies, a Canada-based educational charity that brings the ideas of economics, law, and ethics to college students. She is an alumna of FEE’s Summer Seminars, the Institute for Humane Studies, the Fraser Institute, and the Atlas Network’s Leadership Academy.

Email Janet with comments and questions at


















FEE offers live online events for people new to the economic, ethical, and legal principles of a free society.


December 2014

Unfortunately, educating people about phenomena that are counterintuitive, not-so-easy to remember, and suggest our individual lack of human control (for starters) can seem like an uphill battle in the war of ideas. So we sally forth into a kind of wilderness, an economic fairyland. We are myth busters in a world where people crave myths more than reality. Why do they so readily embrace untruth? Primarily because the immediate costs of doing so are so low and the psychic benefits are so high.
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