About this Series

The Free Minds Outside the Classroom series is hosted by Taylor Jaworski, the Associate Faculty Director of the Benson Center for the Study of Western Civilization. The series aims to build a community of undergraduate students interested in participating in good-faith dialogs about various timely topics. The Benson Center promotes the study of the intellectual, artistic and political traditions that characterize Western civilization. The Center offers a forum for free inquiry and supports academic freedom and intellectual diversity on campus in a time of increasing political polarization and homogeneity. The Free Minds Outside the Classroom series is an extension of the Center’s mission. Students are invited to openly discuss and listen to others’ opinions on the topic at hand in an informal setting. Pizza and drinks will be served. The events are free, but registration is required. Click here for additional resources for events!

Past Events

What is longtermism? 
Hosted by: Taylor Jaworski and Matt Burgess

The overwhelming majority of humans that will exist throughout our lifespan as a species have probably not been born yet. What moral implications does this possibility have for our decisions today? How should this possibility affect how we think about policy issues, such as climate change, and personal decisions, such as how much to save and spend, and on what. In this discussion, Taylor Jaworski (Economics) and Matt Burgess (Environmental Studies) consider these issues in the context of "longtermism" as a new social movement. The conversation will touch on environmental issues, existential risk, and the implications of future economic growth, among other topics. Additional Resources

What is higher education for?
Hosted by: Taylor Jaworski and Paul Diduch

What is the value of a college degree? Higher education in the United States has changed dramatically over the last 100 years. At the beginning of the twentieth century college attendance was an elite activity and therefore rare in the population at large. Today, we live in a society in which levels of "skill" and economic success are delineated in terms of educational attainment. Indeed, higher levels of schooling are seen as integral to the "American Dream." In this discussion, Taylor Jaworski (Economics) and Paul Diduch (Herbst Program for Engineering, Ethics & Society) examine the role of education -- college, more specifically -- in American life drawing on their backgrounds in the social sciences and humanities, respectively. The conversation will consider the role of college in professional development and career success, whether education is necessary for being an informed citizen, and the future role of education in light of recent debates over student loan forgiveness, social mobility, and economic prosperity. Additional Resources

How to have difficult conversations
Hosted by: Taylor Jaworski, Matt Burgess, and Pilar McQuillan

Navigating relationships can be difficult. Whether you’re navigating life with a new roommate, have family members with different political beliefs, or feeling nervous to express your opinions in class, having difficult conversations is an essential part of life. If you are interested in learning how to navigate difficult conversations and better understand people that you may disagree with, this event is for you! Join us for an in-person dialog on these topics and more. This event is part of Matt Burgess’ “Reducing Polarization Dialogs” series.


About Taylor Jaworski

Taylor Jaworski is an associate professor in the Department of Economics. His research and teaching interests are in economic history and economic geography. Jaworski has been a regular participant in Benson Center faculty seminars and a host/panelist in several events including lectures with Jared RubinNoel Johnson, and the Hamilton: The Man Behind the Musical CU faculty panel discussion. Jaworski received his BA from The George Washington University, MSc from the London School of Economics and PhD from the University of Arizona. Jaworski is particularly interested in bringing scholars to CU “that can speak to researchers in a range of fields as well as engage with the public on the critical issues of our time.”