Last week well over 1,000 young people from around the world congregated in one place (Washington DC) to network and discuss the ideas of liberty and freedom.
You might ask how is it possible that more than just a handful of young people can manage to gather and talk about free markets, small government and an open society? The answer is that an organisation called Students for Liberty (or SFL for short) (website: http://studentsforliberty.org/ and twitter: @sfliberty) convened its sixth International Students for Liberty conference, bringing together the world’s largest crowd of pro‑liberty students to learn, discuss, get involved, and have fun all at the same time.
The program looked amazing and the list of speakers were world‑class, which included Whole Foods co‑founder John Mackey, free‑market journalist John Stossel, Cato Institute executive VP David Boaz, former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson, leading economist Peter Boettke, and many others. There were many interesting sessions during the conference, including one which is near and dear to my heart: how to attract more women, especially young women, to the liberty movement.
Those interested in the reflections of people who attended the conference can read interesting articles here, here or here, or scroll through the twitter feed of the conference (#isflc13). John Stossel also taped his Fox News program, the STOSSEL Show, at the conference, so there is a chance that pay‑television subscribers among us here in Australia will get to see that segment soon.
As my friend Ron Manners has remarked in the past, a flame of optimism for the future of liberty comes alight, even for some of us weary foot-soldiers, when one appreciates the fast‑growing numbers of young people attending liberty conferences and making their own contributions to the cause of classical liberalism and libertarianism.
There is simply no comparison between the time I was at uni, reading Buchanan, Friedman, Hayek and the Cato Journal on my intellectual lonesome, and today with energetic, flourishing bodies such as Students for Liberty helping to make all the difference between then and now.
SFL provide support for university students to set up their own SFL groups on campus, and there is an excellent opportunity for Australian students interested in liberty ideas to do just that at their own universities. Students interested in setting up a presence for SFL can go to their website and learn more. There are apparently already some Australian affiliates on the ground, including at my alma mater the University of Queensland, so opportunities exist in some places to get involved and there ought to be more of it!
SFL also provide training opportunities for interested students to organise their own student liberty movements on campuses; again, those interested can go to their website for more information.
If you’re currently studying at uni and you’re interested in economic and social freedom ideas, here’s your chance to become involved in an international network that is making great strides for liberty in the here and now.