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Book Colloquium

Spring 2019

Environmental Markets Book Cover

Each semester the Center for Public Choice and Market Process (CPM) sponsors the Economics Book Colloquium, in which students and faculty meet to discuss interesting contemporary writing in economics. In Spring 2019, the colloquium participants will read the book "WTF?!: An Economic Tour of the Weird" by Peter T. Leeson.


"Step right up! Get your tickets for WTF?! An Economic Tour of the Weird! This rollicking tour through a museum of the world's weirdest practices is guaranteed to make you say, "WTF?!" Did you know that "preowned" wives were sold at auction in nineteenth-century England? That today, in Liberia, accused criminals sometimes drink poison to determine their fate? How about the fact that, for 250 years, Italy criminally prosecuted cockroaches and crickets? Do you wonder why? Then this tour is just for you!

Join WTF?!'s cast of colorful characters as they navigate the museum, led by guide and economist Peter T. Leeson. From one exhibit to the next, you'll overhear Leeson's riotous exchanges with the patrons and learn how to use economic thinking to reveal the hidden sense behind seemingly senseless human behavior―including your own. Leeson shows that far from "irrational" or "accidents of history," humanity's most outlandish rituals are ingenious solutions to pressing problems―developed by clever people, driven by incentives, and tailor-made for their time and place. Can you handle getting schooled by the strange? Better hurry, the tour is about to start!

About the Author:

Peter T. Leeson is Duncan Black Professor of Economics and Law at George Mason University and a Senior Fellow with the F. A. Hayek Program for the Advanced Study of Philosophy, Politics, and Economics and North American Editor of Public Choice. Formerly, Leeson was Visiting Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago, Visiting Fellow in Political Economy and Government at Harvard University, and F. A. Hayek Fellow at the London School of Economics. According to RePEc, Leeson is among the top young economists in the world. For links to his research, press coverage, and CV visit his website: Leeson will also be a featured speaker for Adam Smith Week 2019.

Discussion Leeder:

The Discussion Leader this Spring will be Dr. Peter Calcagno, Director of the Center for Public Choice & Market Process and Professor of Economics here at the College of Charleston. 


Colloquium information: 

  • The Colloquium is open to any interested College of Charleston students; it is not limited to economics majors.
  • The Colloquium meets every two weeks, for 1 hour and 15 minutes, on Thursday at 3 p.m. in Beatty 301.
  • Participation in the colloquium is voluntary, and no course credit is given for participation. We request that you only sign up to participate if you expect to be able to attend all of the sessions in the schedule below.
  • All students should be prepared to discuss all of the scheduled chapters for each meeting. The format will be an open discussion but focused on the topics raised in the assigned readings. Importantly, this colloquium is not intended to be a lecture. Ideally, the professors will do little talking.
  • Participants receive their copy of the book free from the CPM.
  • Food and drinks will be provided at all the meetings.
  • This semester the Colloquium will be limited to 15 student participants. 


All meetings are 3:00pm - 4:15pm in Beatty 301.

January 24

  • Waiting in the Lobby
  • Chapter 1: Your Favorite Acronym
  • Chapter 2: Burn, Baby, Burn

February 7

  • Chapter 3: FSBO: Like-New, Preowned Wife

February 21

  • Chapter 4: Public Use for Private Parts

March 7

  • Chapter 5: God Damn
  • Chapter 6: Chicken, Please; Hold the Poison

March 28

  • Chapter 7: Jiminy Cricket's Journey to Hell

April 11

  • Chapter 8: Fighting Solves Everything


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