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A once-in-a-lifetime Northwood experience

February 5, 2024

This summer, four scholars and a faculty member participated in an experience that was the first of its kind for a Northwood delegation: a trip to Capitaf, the summer home of Milton and Rose Friedman in Fairlee, Vermont.

There they participated in a weeklong colloquium on Milton Friedman’s classic defense of the free enterprise system, Capitalism and Freedom, for which the property is named. The Northwood students were among a select group of 10 participants who received scholarships from the Free to Choose Network to participate in the colloquium.

In this secluded and historic venue surrounded by picturesque mountain views,  they studied and engaged in spirited discussion of Friedman’s ideas and their potential application to contemporary issues.  In between sessions, they enjoyed field trips to nearby locations of historical or cultural significance; hiking in the mountains; and other recreational activities.

Although this is the first time Northwood students have participated in a Capitaf colloquium, Northwood already had strong ties to the Friedmans, the Free to Choose Network, and Capitaf. The summer colloquiums were the brainchild of the late Bob Chitester, the founder of the Free to Choose Network and a recent recipient of an honorary degree from Northwood University. Milton Friedman wrote the forward and contributed a chapter to Northwood’s signature book, When We Are Free. The Fall 2024 Omniquest selection was Free to Choose, written at Capitaf by Milton and Rose Friedman. Currently, a bench with life-size statues of Milton and Rose sits in the Founder’s Garden at Northwood University in Midland, one of only two castings made; the other one is at Capitaf. 

The McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship helped to sponsor the trip.

Free to Choose was big in my life as a student, and I continued to use it throughout my teaching in Northwood, as did my teachers and colleagues,” explained Dr. Timothy G. Nash, vice president, emeritus; director of The McNair Center. 

The trip was organized by Professor Dale Matcheck, a Cornell University alumnus who chairs the economics department at Northwood University.

“It was really a great opportunity for us,” Matcheck stated. “It was important for these students to come prepared and to participate, and each of the Northwood students brought something important to those discussions. The conversation would grow organically, and everyone would participate in it fully. I thought the group dynamic worked very well.”

The Northwood delegation included three Northwood students: Andrew Reder, Bradley Hunt, and Andrew Morley, and one honorary Timberwolf — Joshua Antonini, a research analyst in energy and environmental policy at the Mackinac Center for Public Policy. 

Bradley Hunt, an online student from Northwood, said he enjoyed getting to better know his professor and fellow students.

“It wasn’t just the formal discussions, but the conversations that we had informally, during meals and other activities,” Hunt said. “It was just an intellectually-stimulating environment. I would definitely recommend this experience for other students.”

Andrew Morely, a student who transferred from Albion College to Northwood, felt the trip was a wonderful opportunity, and he was honored to be invited.

“It felt like it was a good balance of productivity and fun,” noted Morely. “We worked really hard in the morning and then got to relax and do different things in the afternoon. We made friends with people from around the country and internationally.”

Andrew Reder, an honors student from Larkin Township, called the trip “an immersive learning experience.”

“It was interesting to study the book and discuss it in the place where it was written,” Reder added.

“I would have loved to participate in one of these when I was a student,” Matcheck said. “It’s not a classroom; it’s a genuinely learning community; and it aligns perfectly with Northwood’s mission. I certainly hope that we can bring more Northwood students here in the future.”

Now Matcheck and his students will follow up the trip by writing about their experiences and possibly contributing a scholarly essay for the McNair Center for the Advancement of Free Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at Northwood University.

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