Koch Scholar Program

The Koch Scholar Program challenges students to think critically. The primary goal of the program is to instill students with an appreciation for great literature and meaningful dialogue.

Reading discussions are conducted in the Socratic method. Students are encouraged to challenge their first conclusions — which allows them to build confidence as they express their ideas over the course of the program.

  • Meetings are held Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m.
  • 15 books are provided – students read about a book per week
  • Students participate in discussions online and in-person
  • Dinner is provided at weekly discussions
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Program Details

The Koch Scholar Program is a 15-week student reading group hosted by the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University.

The reading group, which first started in 2005, is comprised of 15 students and a few faculty advisors, who meet weekly to discuss classic and contemporary literary works for a few hours over dinner. Participants also have the opportunity to continue the dialogue from their weekly meetings online.

The program has a long tradition of welcoming students of diverse academic backgrounds. All students at Utah State University, regardless of major, can apply. Applications are accepted on a semesterly basis. Successful applicants also receive a $1,000 stipend for their participation in the program.

The Koch Scholar Program is made possible through a generous gift from the Charles Koch Foundation.

Spring 2019 Reading List

Theme: Iconoclastic Freakonomics

Beyond Politics
Randy T Simmons
Myth of the Robber Barons
Burton W. Folsom, Jr.
The Gifts of Athena
Joel Mokyr
Doing Bad By Doing Good
Christopher Coyne
The Thing Itself
Michael Munger
WTF?! and The Invisible Hook
Peter Leeson
The Long Divergence
Timur Kuran
DEAD — Tyranny Comes Home
Abigail R. Hall and Christopher Coyne
Hidden Order
David D. Friedman
The Rational Optimist
Matt Ridley
The Social Order of the Underworld
David Skarbek
Community Revival in the Wake of Disaster
Laura E. Grube, Stefanie Haeffele-Balch, Virgil Henry Storr
Markets without Limits
Jason Brennan and Peter Jaworski

Past Themes

Conceptualizations of Modern War

  • The Face of Battle, John Keegan
  • The Price of Glory, Alistair Horne
  • Band of Brothers, Stephen Ambrose
  • The Illiad, (translated by Robert Fagles) Homer
  • The Stars in Their Courses, Shelby Foote
  • Cold Mountain, Charles Frazer
  • Goodbye to All That, Robert Graves
  • Goodbye Darkness, William Manchester
  • The Guns of August, Barbara Tuchman
  • The Frozen Chosen, Thomas Cleaver
  • They Marched into Sunlight, David Maraniss
  • Black Hawk Down, Mark Bowden
  • We Were Soldiers Once … and Young, Harold G. Moore and Joseph L. Galloway

The American Founding

  • Colonies to Nation, 1763-1789, Jack P. Greene\
  • Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, Frederick Douglass
  • What They Fought For 1861-1865, James M. McPherson
  • What the Anti-Federalists Were For, Herbert J. Storing
  • The Federalist, Alexander Hamilton
  • The Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration, John Locke

Law, Property Rights, and Social Responsibility

  • Order Without Law, Robert C. Ellickson
  • Anarchy Unbound, Peter Leeson
  • Discovery – A Memoir, Vernon L. Smith
  • The Social Order of the Underworld, David Skarbek
  • Law for the Elephant, John Phillip Reid
  • The Use of Knowledge in Society, Friedrich A. Hayek
  • The Not So Wild, Wild West, Terry L. Anderson
  • The Law, Frederic Bastiat

Law, Property Rights, and Social Responsibility

  • The Backslider, Levi S. Peterson
  • The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
  • The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood
  • Henry V, William Shakespeare
  • The Book Thief, Markus Zusak
  • The Jungle, Upton Sinclair
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Suzanne Collins
  • Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift

Participating in Koch Scholars gave me the opportunity to analyze the things I read and discuss them in a way that allowed me to learn from the depth of the text. The analysis and discussion with professors and other scholars added tremendous value to my academic experience. I’ve been exposed to new ideas and points of view, gained a better understanding of issues faced by our society, and want to make a difference in the world.


-Isaac Rhea, Spring 2018 Koch Scholar