Focusing on the Future
AUGUST 31, 2012 by LAWRENCE W. REED
Dear Friends of FEE,
Exciting developments are almost ready to launch here at FEE, and I can’t wait to tell you about them. Since I became President of this organization in 2008, my staff and I have been working closely with the Board of Trustees to refine FEE’s role in the now massive and ever-expanding liberty movement. It’s been a long process in which we’ve addressed every program to make sure that this organization is a leader and a game-changer in everything we do. This new direction at FEE will be evident in our completely redesigned website, scheduled to launch in November. But let me give you a sneak-peek.
FEE’s mission is to inspire, educate and connect future leaders with the economic, ethical and legal principles of a free society. Our programs are designed to create “ah hah” moments and intellectual breakthroughs that shape people’s worldviews and help them become effective advocates for liberty.
Said differently, we aspire to be the premier source of inspiring content, programs and community for young minds interested in the basics of free market economics and its foundations in the broader philosophy of individual liberty. Our focus, therefore, is making the principles of the freedom philosophy widely accessible, easily understood and energizing to young minds.
We aim to do this by delivering content that is substantive and thoughtful in forms most convenient to our audience. We will reach out to our rapidly expanding audiences through traditional in-person seminars and lectures, and through a fully-integrated internet platform for delivering our commentary, magazine articles, educational videos, social media outreach and 60 years of archives in digital form. Our books and our flagship publication, The Freeman, are readily available on-line and in printed form. We will also continue to provide an increasing range of services for teachers and home-school parents, who have long been adapting our material for classroom use.
For FEE to be successful, it is not enough to provide the most compelling educational materials in our field. Our aim is to be the gateway to the larger liberty movement for increasing numbers of young people, by sharing the excitement of a life informed by the freedom philosophy and by inspiring them to use their understanding of these principles to become active in the larger community of freedom’s advocates. When FEE was founded in 1946, the freedom philosophy was struggling for survival. FEE was one of a handful of institutions tending the flame of the Austrian school of economics and classical liberalism, even while its primary goal was introducing newcomers to these ideas. FEE provided opportunities for free-market intellectuals to pursue scholarship in these areas, at a time when few such opportunities existed.
Six decades later, a vigorous revival has taken place in universities throughout the United States and the world. FEE continues to play a vital role in these philosophical traditions, but the emergence of so many university-based programs has enabled us to focus not so much on tending the flame as on spreading the blaze—introducing newcomers to the essentials of the freedom philosophy and calling on the best of these free-market professors to help us do it.
Our current strong emphasis on introductory programs and our relative de-emphasis on advanced studies does not represent a diminution of FEE’s role in the advancement of Austrian economics and classical liberalism, but an evolution of that role in response to the improved intellectual climate. Our particular focus on young people is brought about partly because we see the need to be greatest there, but also because our adult students have consistently told us that what they really want most from FEE isn’t so much education for themselves, but educational content that is suitable for them to share with the young people in their families and their communities.
This is an exciting time for liberty and for FEE. Keep your eye on our website in November and let us know if you think the excitement is catching.
Lawrence W. Reed