Gallatin Writers' Contest

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Gallatin Writers' Contest

By: John A. Baden, Ph.D.
Posted on January 15, 2014 FREE Insights Topics:


Gallatin Writers is FREE's sister organization, created twenty years ago.  We wanted to help people allergic to economic thinking understand the ethical and ecological value of economic reasoning to achieving their goals.  

Here is a key: Respecting liberty and the contributions of prosperity is essential to a good society. 

Poverty is the worst polluter.  Having come to economics from anthropology, I was and remain, sensitive to the importance of culture to political economy and environmental policy.

We identified and recruited established writers interested in the environment and public policy.  One gathering included David Brooks, then with The Weekly Standard, and Dave Foreman, a founder of Earth First!  Many writers came with the conventional Green perspective; ecology is good, economics not.  This was the cultural base we challenged. 

Gallatin Writers produced several books and many articles and op-eds, some in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times.   Our goal was to consistently show that at its core, economics is not about money but rather information and incentives.  And institutions generate both. That is the start for constructive reform.

A generation after Gallatin's creation, and a great many changes in peoples' perception of ecology and economy, it's time for its restoration.  (Remember the population crisis, the clamor for zero economic growth, and energy exhaustion?) This student writing competition begins Gallatin's new work to influence thinking about economics, culture, and ecology.   

We welcome your support.

- John


Gallatin Writers, in cooperation with Montana State University (MSU) and FREE announces a writing contest for MSU students.  We are soliciting analytic essays on three topics.  Winners will submit well-crafted papers on these issues central quality of life in the future to our region and though America. 

Our goal is to provoke innovative thinking among MSU students who value the oft-elusive conjunction of ecology, responsible liberty, and modest prosperity.  MUS faculty are nationally recognized for addressing this mission.  We designed this contest to further this goal.

The topics are:

  1. Innovative institutions and organizations for protecting Yellowstone and other American wild lands
  1. Threats to America's wild and scenic lands posed by growing federal and state entitlements, for example Medicare, Social Security, and promised pensions.  How can the values of parks and wild lands be perpetuated as budgetary pressures increase? 
  2. Lessons from the American Prairie Reserve ( Complexity, Coordination and Conservation.  What can we learn from this Montana experiment in environmental entrepreneurship?


Judges seek well documented but non-technical papers (maximum 20 pages).  Winners will present clear and provocative essays, not mere opinion pieces.  They will be highly relevant to the values that make our area so attractive.  We are looking for well-researched and footnoted papers that would be "A” quality term papers.  Please include a 600 word executive summary suitable for publication as an op-ed.

The three prizes are (2) two annual passes to all American National Parks for the 2014 season, and (1) one night stay at Old Faithful Lodge including dinner for two.

In addition, the best paper of the three will receive an additional prize of $500.  The prizes will be given at a MSU awards meeting this April. 


Coordinated by: Prof. Jerry Johnson, MSU professor of Political Science

Supported by: Gallatin Writers, MSU, a local family, and FREE

A note on Gallatin Writers

A grant from the Ford Foundation, along with other foundation support, launched Gallatin Writers nearly twenty years ago.  (When candidates for these prizes were born.)  A New York Times article described it as teaching "the lessons of the land".  Gallatin produced books by Island Press and Colorado University Press, articles in Northern Lights, and numerous op-eds.  This is a propitious time for Gallatin Writers to rekindle such discussions with essays by MSU students.


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