As a part of Western Carolina University, The Center for Study of Free Enterprise (CSFE) supports the University’s economic development missions through scholarly inquiry and community engagement in the areas of economic development, applied research, and free enterprise. The Centers' Advisory Board consists of WCU faculty and community members from the private and public sectors, and a Director within the School of Economics, Management, and Project Management and is housed within the College of Business with a direct report to the Dean.
At the CSFE, our mission is to provide economics research and thought leadership on issues pertaining to economic development in North Carolina, the region, and beyond, by conducting scholarly inquiry, policy analysis, educational activities, and community outreach on the role of free enterprise in a flourishing society. We seek to involve students and faculty from every college and discipline on campus and support their work that improves understanding of economic development in the region, state, and beyond. The Center will be an interdisciplinary forum for WCU faculty, students, and community members to exchange ideas, engage in mutual outreach, and collaborate on applied research.
Some of our support and endeavors are:
Research Support: In pursuit of our mission, we support student-faculty research projects that result in peer-reviewed publication, conference presentation, and other professional development opportunities for WCU’s students and faculty. The Center seeks projects that engage national and global issues, while establishing relevance for the state and region, and projects focused solely on North Carolina and our western counties.
Student Scholarships: Students from any major/department will be invited to apply as Student Affiliates of the Center, to work on a research project with one or more faculty, and to present their work at a national conference. Student Affiliates of the Center will be awarded scholarships on one-year intervals.
Public Engagement: The Center will make results of its supported research accessible to the general public. Center scholars will write news articles and other media based on peer-reviewed studies. The Center will provide public lectures to a variety of audiences, will maintain a comprehensive website and blog, and will promote its contributions through news and social media.
Speaker Series: Held three times per semester, WCU’s Free Enterprise Speaker Series offers a forum for the campus and community to explore all points of view on important issues of the day, hear from renowned experts from a variety of fields, and understand multiple perspectives through civil, informed, and fruitful discourse. The entire WCU community is invited.
Teacher Training: The Center seeks to develop educational resources for K-12 educators in the state, on issues related to free enterprise and economic development, initially through online materials and eventually through seminars, conferences, and workshops.
The Board of Trustees of Western Carolina University approved the Center in December 2015. The Provost and Faculty Senate have since administered the process of defining the Center’s organizational structure.