George Mason University

News at Mason

Mason Pays Tribute to Nobel Laureate James M. Buchanan

September 13, 2013

By Buzz McClain


James M. Buchanan

When George Mason University’s first Nobel laureate, James M. Buchanan, died in January at the age of 93, he left behind a legacy that will continue to be studied by scholars for years as they continue to develop his contributions to public choice theory, constitutional economics and social science.

“James Buchanan was one of the 20th century’s deepest and most important thinkers,” says Mason economics professor Alex Tabarrok, director of the Center for Study of Public Choice and the Bartley J. Madden Chair in Economics at the Mercatus Center. “His work reunited political science, political philosophy and economics in a way that had not been done since the time of Adam Smith, Thomas Jefferson and David Hume.”

On Sunday, September 29, the Center for Study of Public Choice, which was founded by Buchanan, will celebrate the memory of the economist beginning at 9:30 a.m. at the Mason Inn Conference Center and Hotel on the Fairfax Campus. More than 20 scholars who worked with or for Buchanan from universities around the world will participate in a daylong series of reminiscences, both scholarly and personal.

“The Celebration of Scholarship Conference and Memorial Reception” begins with registration at 9 a.m.; lunch begins at 11:45 a.m.; the program concludes at 4:30 p.m.

Buchanan’s contribution to the development of Mason can’t be understated, says Tabarrok. And his influence continues today.

“The awarding of the Nobel Prize in economics to Buchanan in 1986 was George Mason’s first Nobel, and it put Mason and its unique approach to economics on the map,” he says. “Researchers at the Center for Study of Public Choice continue to push economics beyond its traditional boundaries in order to better understand individuals and society.”

The event is open to the public. For a full listing of speakers and events, and to register, visit this link at the Center for Study of Public Choice. For more information on the conference and memorial program, contact conference coordinator Sarah Oh at