In the 1950s and 1960s, the global economy enjoyed unprecedented growth. Our residential seminaries were among its leading beneficiaries. We expanded our rosters, expanded our course offerings, and admitted applicants to our Masters of Divinity programs from families which, in the unlikely event their son or daughter was granted admission, could never have afforded the burdens of tuition and housing. Then in the late 1960s, the global economy began to contract and throughout the 1970s educational institutions everywhere struggled to make ends meet.

Throughout the 1980s, patrons and administrators tried to convince one another that the downturn would pass. It did not. And, so, beginning in the 1990s, residential seminaries began to close their doors to all but a select handful of applicants, referring those who could not afford the high price of residential seminary instruction to on-line course offerings, evening and weekend courses. The demographic composition of those seminaries whose doors remained open returned to their pre-war (1914) state. Is this what God wants?

Professor Lough would like to talk to your trustees, board members, faculty and administrators about how to talk to patrons about your seminary’s mission.

TROPI RATA  (Tropes of War)

Tropes of War is an international scholarly collective convened to explore the unstable seam opening up from the Baltics to north Africa, southern and eastern Europe to Greece, Turkey, and the the Eastern Mediterranean, from western China to Afghanistan and Pakistan. Our researchers are exploring the intersection of economics, politics, society, and culture in order that we might better understand the traumas that are giving rise to instability in these regions.


Aristotle in America is an ongoing project which seeks to highlight the classically republican foundations of political and economic life in the United States and to explore the many ways that contemporary institutions, laws, and regulations serve to undermine these foundations.


Following years of development, Gymnasium in a Box was first offered a supplement to students studying at the University of California, Berkeley, to introduce them to the canon of concepts and literature once enjoyed by all people considered to be educated. Gymnasium in a Box seminars have now been staged at universities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina. Happily, all who wish may now take advantage of private individual or group instruction specially crafted for students, professionals, or public servants. For more information write to


“Efficiency” is at the heart of contemporary free market economies. And, yet, few people grasp the complexities of this seemingly straightforward concept. Are individuals who produce efficiencies the same individuals who enjoy its benefits? If the least efficient individuals consume far more efficiencies than they produce, then how does this distribution of efficiencies influence overall efficiencies? Ought efficiency to be the leading metric for every social formation, or might efficiency be ill-equipped to bear the burdens it once shared with beauty, ethics, leisure, and joy? Gaining a better grasp of efficiency might help us to perform more efficiently. But it might also help us to recognize the limiations of efficiency.


I continue to be intrigued by the ways that social formations shape the very categories we use to examine them. Economic Thought is a leading example of the mutually constitutive character of thought and action. The more familiar I grow with the history of Economic Thought the less impressed I have been with general treatments of this subject. All too often the categories of economic analysis and the models economists find useful interpreting economic life are divorced from the historical and social formations in which these interpretive categories first took on relevance. This isolation of interpretive categories from society and history leads to less than fully rigorous interpretations of the history of economic thought. Interpreting economic though historically, by contrast, gives us a powerful tool for grasping both the past and our current economic formations.

© Joseph Lough 2016