Friday, July 3, 2009

How To Win $10,000

A Tennessee Tech University economics student recently won a $10,000 prize for a passionate paper addressing the question “Can Character and Community Survive in an Age of Globalization?” Brian Douglass, a TTU senior from Chattanooga, took first place in the International Culture of Enterprise Student Essay Contest sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. “My essay discussed how the efficiency sought through economic globalization would in the end tend to destroy many things which we consider good,” explained Douglass. “I used economics as well as philosophy and theology in describing how the natural relationships between humans could be whittled down in the name of efficiency to the extent that they would in fact be destroyed beyond recognition if globalization was taken to its logical conclusion,” he said.ISI’s primary focus is encouraging education of students in areas that represent the best of the Western tradition. They also publish numerous books on related topics. Douglass says he was introduced to ISI originally by TTU English professor Ken Craven, who used one of their books in a course.To support his thesis, Douglass drew from economic reports and the writings of numerous thinkers including E. F. Schumacher, Hilaire Belloc, Aristotle, and several popes. Douglas described how families and communities serve as “natural defenders of character,” but acknowledged the economic inefficiency of that arrangement through the eyes of globalization.“Traditional functions of family and community are clearly not ‘economical’ when looked at through the lens of gross domestic product growth and absolute advantage. Childcare by parents, caring for elderly at home, and helping a neighbor are all activities that contribute nothing to GDP measures and yet are indispensable for any healthy community,” he wrote in the paper. His conclusion was a direct statement about the threat globalization poses to community and culture. “It seems that if globalization driven by materialistic and mechanistic forces, as it is currently, is victorious, then community will be changed into something unrecognizable by the traditional, Western definitions that appear in this essay. With community, is interwoven character, freedom, and most importantly, the family. The destruction of communities will mean the extinction of character,” he wrote. Douglass says a university group associated with ISI, The Society for the Restoration of Western Culture, encourages students to enter the contest and join their discussions.