I have heard the phrase “American higher education is the envy of the world” more times than I can count, but I don’t think it’s true. I’m not aware that the rest of the world would be thrilled to have our enormously expensive and educationally weak colleges instead of the ones they have. Today’s Martin Center article about a low-cost, educationally focused college in the Czech Republic underscores the differences.
In the article, the Center’s new writer, Anthony Hennen, discusses his time studying at Cevro Institute, a college in Prague. Hennen enrolled in Cevro’s philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE) program, which gives students a strong course of study in political economy from a classical-liberal perspective.
PPE is an interdisciplinary degree that revives the study of political economy, and the University of Oxford is usually credited with starting the modern model in the 1920s. Programs incorporate political science, economics, sociology, law, philosophy, history, and related fields, and generally prepare students for further academic degrees, or careers in public policy, finance, journalism, management, and so on. Students are not usually laser-focused specialists but ‘generalists,’ and those who want to avoid getting corralled into an academic box.
Cevro’s faculty is drawn from classical-liberal scholars from the U.S. and across Europe. The cost is low by American standards, which is because higher education in Europe doesn’t waste resources on bloated administrative staff and sideshows like athletics.
Academically, Cevro’s PPE program was first rate. Hennen writes,
Some of our Czech professors had served as advisors to Vaclav Havel and Vaclav Klaus during the post-communist transition period of the 1990s; others were economists at the Czech central bank and taught students about the inner workings of monetary institutions. American professors from Duke University, the University of Arizona, and Florida State University, among others, taught students about public choice, realistic idealism, and moral philosophy. Professors from Belgium, Germany, and Bulgaria taught property rights and liability rules, the difficulty of establishing the rule of law and the power of institutions, and the costs and benefits of the European Union.
This program is only two years old, but is off to a strong start. Perhaps it could be copied here.