Three Essays on Education and Peace

Amy Crockett

Advisor: Christopher Coyne, PhD, Department of Economics

Committee Members: Peter Boettke, Rosolino Candela

Buchanan Hall, #D180
March 18, 2024, 11:00 AM to 01:00 PM


This dissertation explores topics in education, peace, and political economy. 

The first chapter examines the response by various types of schools to the COVID-19 pandemic shut down when almost all schools closed in March 2020. All schools, public, private, and charter had to adjust to the new conditions of educating during the pandemic. All types of schools had to deal with decisions regarding public health and how to educate students. The three types of schools responded differently throughout the pandemic. It is argued the main reason for the differences in response are due to the differences in institutional settings and laws regarding decision making. Private schools are in more of a market setting with school leaders being more directly accountable to tuition paying families. Public schools are in a more entangled market setting including multiple decisions makers and interest groups between the families and the school. Charter schools are a mix of the two settings. I use a variety of data including when schools began teaching content, if it was new content, when schools returned to in-person learning, attendance, and test scores to measure and compare the differences in response by the various types of schools. 

The second chapter, co-authored with Christopher Coyne, examines the different strategies employed for developing a liberal order. The concept of a liberal order dominates discussions of international affairs. The dominant approach to achieving a liberal order is grounded in a warmonger vision based on state military force as a primary means to social cooperation, peace, order, and human flourishing. This stands in contrast to the peacemonger vision, which emphasizes the primacy of nonviolence in interactions between people, especially in conflict situations. We offer reasons for skepticism regarding the warmonger vision and then discuss features and misconceptions of the peacemonger mentality. In doing so, we discuss how the peacemonger vision better fits with the liberal ends advocated by many who share the warmonger mentality.

The third chapter is an analysis of how undergraduate economic textbooks address peace. Textbooks are replete with examples of individuals cooperating peacefully in a market setting. There are many examples of individuals in potentially contentious situations finding solutions to problems without resorting to violence. However, economic textbooks often take the underlying condition of peace for granted as well as the process for finding peaceful solutions. Concepts of trade, competition, and overcoming externalities are presented with solutions where the issue of violence never enters the conversation. Individuals are able to solve problems without violence or threats of violence. By neglecting the underlying condition of peace, students are presented with an incomplete view of how key economic principles work. It also stunts the growth of individuals knowledge of future possibilities of finding peaceful solutions to problems. This paper presents evidence of a lack of discussion in microeconomic, macroeconomic, international and development textbooks around the ideas of peace and examples of solutions are presented as needing to be from a top-down nature. Examples are given that could be added to textbooks to broaden the scope of solutions presented.