The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday October 19th

Letter: Freethought can still be bought


PPE (Philosophy, Politics and Economics) reading groups exemplify the threat wealthy political actors pose to our university’s intellectual independence. 

Groups meet weekly at Gourmet Kingdom over the course of a semester to discuss a selected socio-economic text. The dinner and books are paid for by the PPE Program and any student can apply. 

Selected books include Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations and the more recent Why Nations Fail

The goal of the PPE program is to study the organizations and institutions that shape the world, understanding “how they work, appreciating their interactions, seeing their impact, and being able to assess their value”. 

The university in general and the PPE program in particular have received six-figure donations from the Charles Koch Charitable Foundation and, as reported by The Atlantic, UNC is just one of nearly 100 schools to receive such funding. 

As stated by a Koch staffer, these contributions are part of the Koch network’s broader goal of spreading their views on free-market economics. 

Extending the guiding thought of the PPE program, we are called to understand how this financial and political network works, how it interacts with our university, what impact it has and what value it brings to our campus. 

Why are two of the world’s richest men interested in paying for my dinner, giving me particular texts and hearing from certain speakers? 

Why is a public university forced to rely on private funding from groups that have explicit political and economic aims?

Andrew Clark

Physics and French


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