Jason Riley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and famed columnist for the Wall Street Journal, spoke to a packed house on Thursday, October 26, in the Todd Wehr Auditorium on Concordia’s campus about legendary economist, author, and social theorist Thomas Sowell.

In his column, Upward Mobility, Riley frequently writes about politics, economics, education, immigration, social inequality, and race. In 2021, he published a biography of economist and social theorist Thomas Sowell. He uses his platform to inspire others, particularly college students, to courageously seek the truth, regardless of the cost.

“At a time when our colleges and universities are getting more intellectually intolerant, it’s nice to know that some universities like Concordia are still open to discussion,” said Riley. “College ought to be a place where students learn how to think instead of what to think, and programs like this are essential to allow that to happen.” 

At age 93, Thomas Sowell remains a relevant and respected voice in the American conservative movement as a prominent black conservative. The prolific economist, author, and senior fellow at the Hoover Institution is often recognized for his impressive range and depth of scholarship, including 37 books and volumes of published papers.

According to Riley, “Thomas Sowell is an honest intellectual and is willing to follow the facts wherever they lead. He was an ‘intellectual trespasser,’ and we need a hundred more just like him.”

Intellectual trespassers

Riley encouraged the students in the audience to be ‘intellectual trespassers’ like Thomas Sowell and read things they disagree with, watch programs that don’t just reinforce their views, and spend time really talking and listening with all kinds of people.

Jason Riley was a featured speaker in the Concordia Free Enterprise Center’s Economics, Politics, and Philosophy on the Bluff speaker series. The series hosts nationally known thought leaders that attract large audiences of students, faculty, staff, and community members.

According to Scott Niederjohn, Ph.D., and Director of Concordia’s Free Enterprise Center, “Thomas Sowell is almost certainly one of the greatest social scientists of our time. We’re fortunate to have Jason Riley, from the Wall Street Journal and Dr. Sowell’s biographer, visit and share with our students the incredible impact Sowell’s ideas have made on the U.S. and the world.”

Watch Riley’s Presentation here:

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The Concordia Free Enterprise Center (CFEC) opened in the fall of 2021 under the leadership of Scott Niederjohn, a nationally recognized economist and scholar who now serves as a professor of economics at CUW. The Center aims to support the ideals of a free and virtuous society through four areas: research, education, application, and public policy.