Values & Capitalism is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2016-2017 Young Scholar Awards. We received a host of impressive research proposals from talented students across the country. From among those applications the following students were selected to receive $5,000 scholarships. During the 2016-2017 school year, each Young Scholar will conduct original research on a topic of public policy or economics, with the oversight of a faculty advisor. In April 2017, each student will defend their research in front of a panel of experts at AEI’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Their final projects will be published on the Values & Capitalism website next summer. Congratulations to these students, and thank you to all who submitted and contributed to the conversation on free enterprise and faith.

Taylor Becker is a senior at the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in political science. Mr. Becker’s research will examine the constitutionality of the Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRA). Specifically, he will look at the expansion of the state RFRA to include for-profit corporations. Mr. Becker will conduct an extensive study of constitutional jurisprudence in order to explore the extent to which religious liberties can be accommodated, while still ensuring equal protection of the law for all citizens.

Philip Haunschild is a senior at Northwest Nazarene University, majoring in international studies with a minor in financial economics. Mr. Haunschild will be spending four months in Jordan this coming semester, where he will be working with Syrian refugees. His project will aim to show the inefficiency of the current system of handling refugees, and propose a new model, which includes opening employment to refugees and including them in the economy of whichever nation they are located. He will examine the effects that employing these individuals has on not only the refugees, but also the host country. His research will include surveys and interviews with Syrian refugees, while also studying the macro- and microeconomic effects that these refugees are having on the Jordanian economy.

Eric LaRose is a senior at Hillsdale College, majoring in mathematics and economics. Through his research, Mr. LaRose will seek to answer the question, “Can free market policies combat urban blight and bring about a revival of American cities?” His project will examine urban decline in Detroit, Michican, by comparing it to population decline in Cleveland, Ohio; St. Louis, Missouri; Gary, Indiana; and Youngstown, Ohio. He will look at variations in city and state government policies, taxes, regulatory environments, and local economies to explore reasons for Detroit’s unusually high vacancy rate. Mr. LaRose will examine attempts made by other cities, such as Chicago, to counteract urban blight, in order to see if these policies can be implemented in other places, like Detroit.

Drew Mackenzie is a junior, University Scholar at Baylor University. Deriving much of his research from classical thinkers, Mr. Mackenzie’s project will look at the role of democratic capitalism in upholding man’s dignity, within a context of pluralism. Beginning by examining the challenge of pluralism, his research will examine the possibility of using the pursuit of individual happiness as a common goal for society. Mr. Mackenzie’s research will also show the ability of capitalism to enable each individual’s pursuit of his own happiness.

Sydney Parker is a junior at Seattle Pacific University, majoring in global development studies and economics, and minoring in business administration and political science. Ms. Parker’s project will investigate the macroeconomic effects that microfinance has in developing nations, specifically looking at the effect it has on the GDP and GNI per capita in those nations. The project will examine data from 82 developing nations, separating them into categories based on how long they have received microfinance. It will also examine the human development index, political stability, and level of infrastructure within these countries—in an effort to control for other variables.

Tess Scherkenback is a senior at Azusa Pacific University, majoring in political science, with minors in music and humanities. Ms. Scherkenback’s research will focus on the role of public and private sector partnerships with local faith-based organizations to assist the homeless. Using the city of Glendora, California, as a case study, she will examine the benefits of a model of partnership between the private and public sector in assisting the local homeless population. The model includes a Winter Shelter Program for the homeless in the city, through which five local church communities have provided housing, food, and transportation for the homeless during the winter months. She will examine the quality of care for the individual, cost effectiveness, and other benefits she hypothesizes are found through localized and community-based programs, rather than federally-funded endeavors. Upon completion of the project, she will present her findings before the Glendora City Council.

We will begin accepting applications for our 2017-2018 Young Scholar Awards this fall.