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Monday, July 6, 2015

Communicating Liberty, Battling Biases: FEE Seminars

High school students learned how to communicate ideas and influence their community


FEE hit the halfway point of the summer seminar season with the conclusion of the “Communicating Liberty: Influencing Your Community” seminar. Located in beautiful Orange, California, on Chapman University’s beautiful campus, more than 40 high school students were in attendance to participate in multiple activities, listen to phenomenal speakers, and compete in a project presentation competition.

The students started out the seminar with T.K. Coleman, a philosopher and entrepreneur working with Praxis, who spoke on the power of markets and the many roles of entrepreneurs who create value, serve the public, and make the world a better place. To wrap up the night, students enjoyed stories from Lawrence W. Reed on how a single person can change the world, inspiring them to think of their own impact.

The following day, participants heard from the dynamic duo of Bob Ewing and T.K. Coleman. Ewing, the Director of Media Relations at the Mercatus Center, as well as a FEE Alumni Board member, spoke on how to communicate to different types of people. He referred to the tactics that Leonard Reed used while leading FEE and explained the importance of logos, ethos, and pathos. Coleman focused on how to polish conversation skills to become an influential communicator. The lessons in these talks would help students prepare for the group project presentations later in the day.

Each group was assigned one of the common economic biases identified by economist Bryan Caplan — Make-Work Bias, Anti-Foreign Bias, Pessimistic Bias, and Anti-Market Bias — and pitched a prototype product to explain and combat that bias. The groups collaborated online before the event, and many of the students started working on their projects before the school year ended.

The judges met for their maximum allotted time to debate what group earned the prize of $100 per person. The winning group tackled the Make Work Bias and created a website that included multiple articles, pictures, memes, and a t-shirt. The group members created all of the content on the website themselves, complete with full-length articles.

Due to the fierce competition, the judges also recognized some outstanding individual performances. Several students involved with speech and debate made impressive presenters, and one group managed to get 150 followers in Instagram in just two days.

After the competition, students showed off their public speaking skills and learned how to improve them in a public speaking workshop led by Bob Ewing. Students persuaded group members about a variety of topics, such as why art classes are important and why the Walking Dead is the best television show of all time. Lawrence Reed closed out the seminar by explaining how persuasion is an art by sharing a story about his conversations with friends and supporters.

Students left the seminar with an assortment of communication tactics as well as new connections and friends. With their newfound knowledge, some expressed an interest in continuing their projects or creating new ones as they continue to find ways to communicate the ideas of a free society. The future is certainly brighter with this newest cohort of FEE Alumni sharing their knowledge.


  • Megan is currently an undergraduate student at Salem College in North Carolina as a double major in Political Science and Economics.