For over a decade, the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies has been hosting a biannual conference exploring the history, philosophy, and relevance of the Austrian School of Economics. The Wirth Institute is located at the University of Alberta in Edmonton, Canada, and was established in 1998 and serves as an academic and culture center, and is part of a larger network of academic and cultural institutes dedicated to the study of Central European history and thought in the sciences and arts.
The biannual conference has been run over the years by Roger Koppl and more recently Steve Horwitz. Due to a series of circumstances, I was called off the bench this year to serve in this capacity. My goal was to mix disciplines, mix age and experiences, and mix perspectives. So we had papers from a historian (Janek Wasserman), from a anthropologist/archeologist (Crystal Dozier), from a political theorist (Liz Hemsley), from a philosopher (Brian Kogelmann), as well as from economists (Mathieu Bedard, Simon Bilo, Nicholas Cachanovsky, Rosolino Candela, Erwin Dekker [unfortunately absent], Stefan Kolev, Jayme Lemke, Shruti Rajagopalan, Audrey Redford, and Vlad Tarko). And we had beginning assistant professors, associate professors, and a few grey haired professors. We were also joined by Janet and Matt Bufton of The Institute for Liberal Studies for the weekend, as well as graduate students at Wirth and various members of the university community.
We had two brilliant keynote addresses -- Robert Leonard delivered a talk on Otto Neurath and Karl Menger as two modernist thinkers during the interwar years, and Bruce Caldwell discussed the reception of The Road to Serfdom in the UK and the US.
Alf Wirth was in attendance, and his support for scholarship and academic excellence is greatly appreciated. And Wirth Institute director Joseph Patrouch was a most gracious host. Our days of high quality conversation ended with a wonderful dinner at the Rutherford House, and then experienced a fantastic classical music performance in the concert hall.
Thank you to all for such a wonderful intellectual experience of discussion and learning. As the good folks at Wirth stated after the Saturday evening concert: "We are at our finest when our communities come together to celebrate their shared histories and their love of the arts." And I would just add, when we remember our love of the quest understanding the human condition, our thirst for knowledge and of the pursuit of scholarship and science. The weekend was defined, I would say, by the sheer pleasure of trying to figure things out.