High School Program in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics

What's the relationship between rights and markets?

The FreedomTrust high school program is designed to give honors-level high school students a taste of college-level economics and philosophy. The one-day program, designed for between 40 and 150 students, is comprised of four one-hour sections of lectures, economic experiments, and discussion.

The first lecture, The Knowledge Problem, explores the limits of human knowledge. The lecture begins with Leonard Read’s classic essay “I, Pencil,” which illustrates that although no one person has the knowledge to build even a single pencil from scratch, pencils are made and brought to the market every day. How? What does the answer to that question tell us about other things humans build? This lecture gets students thinking about centralized versus decentralized approaches to solving complex problems.

The second lecture takes a practical look at the knowledge problem through a series of experiments in which students attempt to allocate a society’s resources in order to make themselves better off. Students examine data collected from the experiments in light of the knowledge problem and property rights. The students then examine data from the United Nations, the U.S. government, and state governments to compare what they observed in the experiments to what economists observe in the real world.

In the third lecture, students explore how rights provide guidance for limitations on both markets and government. A strong reliance on markets does not mean that all markets are legitimate, nor does a strong reliance on government mean that all government action is legitimate. The contours of this question are addressed here, largely through the lens of rights as they are understood in the United States, both during the time of the Founding and thereafter.

The final lecture applies what economists understand about human behavior to people working in the public sector. The lecture presents a series of thought experiments and real world examples intended to highlight the difference between outcomes that are attained when government works perfectly versus when government is run by people with the same human failings and desires as exist in the private sector.

Each of these segments, including time for Q&A, is roughly one hour long. We conclude the program with an open Q&A session.

By prior arrangement and for audiences of college-bound students, we can present an hour long presentation/Q&A session on the value of college majors and what students can expect in and how they can best prepare for college.

Host the Program in Philosophy and Economics at your School!

Email us to check available dates for the 2017-18 academic year! We’re available to go to public and private high schools in the United States.

Upcoming High School Visits

View our events page to see if we’ll be in your neighborhood anytime soon! If not, let us know and we’ll happily add a visit to your region!

This program was amazing! The content really helped my students understand how markets work and why they fail. And, it provided students with an understanding of the nature of rights alongside the development of property rights. A wonderful addition to our social studies curriculum!

--Social Studies Teacher


How long is the program? We tailor the exact length of the program to your schedule. We need a minimum of 3 hours (four, 45-minute sessions) and a maximum of 4 hours (four, 60-minute seminars). We also offer an optional one hour, add-on seminar to talk about college readiness (applications, admissions, majors, etc.).

My school is on a block schedule with 90-minute blocks. Can you run the program over two blocks? Yes, we can absolutely host the program in two, 90-minute blocks as long as they are back-to-back blocks.

Can the sessions be broken up over several days? Due to funding limitations, all four seminars must occur on the same day. 

Can different groups of students participate in each of the four seminars? No, the content builds throughout the day so the same group of students must participate in all four seminars.  

Are the four, one-hour seminars hosted in one day? Yes, the program takes place in a single day with the same group of students present throughout the day. 

What do I need to do to prepare to host the program? Contact us to set up a date to visit. Tell us where to check-in and what time. On the day of the program, all we need is access to a screen and projector/computer capable of showing a PowerPoint presentation. 

How much does the program cost? Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’re able to offer this program completely free-of-charge.

Other questions? We’re happy to answer them! Simply email us and we’ll reply right away.