The Saurman Provocative Lecture Series

San Jose State University Department of Economics presents the Provocative Lecture Series, a forum to raise intellectual arguments on a variety of thought-provoking topics, offered in memory of David S. Saurman, Ph.D., former Professor in the Department of Economics.

This lecture series fosters the tradition in higher education of challenging ideas and developing critical thinking in an environment of respect and intellectual discourse on controversial topics. Presenters in the Provocative Lecture Series are noted for their outstanding scholarship and public speaking ability; students, faculty, the general public, as well as the media are invited.

Our goal is to help students and life-long learners develop the critical thinking skills necessary to reach their own informed positions on controversial issues. We invite you to attend, relax, ponder, and enjoy the thought process at upcoming lectures. You can also enjoy viewing recordings of past lectures at the video archive.

If you would like to support The Saurman Provocative Lecture Series, please see donation details

Upcoming Lectures

Spring 2020 events to be rescheduled...


March 18, 2020-to be rescheduled  |  5:15-6:45pm  |  SJSU Student Union Theater  |  FREE!  

Roberta Q. Herzberg, Ph.D.
Distinguished Senior Fellow, F. A. Hayek Program in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics The Mercatus Center at George Mason University
flyer (pdf)

“The Challenging Political Economy of Medicare-For-All”
New proposals that promise health coverage to all with no premiums, copays, or deductibles sound like a dream to those struggling with everincreasing health costs and complicated insurance rules. But are such proposals the answer to problems with the current health care system? Attend this talk and learn about the healthcare reforms proposed by the candidates in this year's elections.

Previous to the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, Dr. Herzberg held faculty
and administrative positions at Utah State University, Indiana University at Bloomington,
and the John Templeton Foundation. Her research and teaching focus on political
economy, public choice, and U.S. health care policy, and she spent many years as an
active participant in State-level policy processes in healthcare and education. She is a
past president of the Public Choice Society (2014-2016) and a current board member
of several professional associations. Dr. Herzberg regularly leads seminars and lectures
on public policy, public choice, the Bloomington School, and the sustainability of
government entitlement policies.

April 14, 2020-to be rescheduled  |  5:15-6:45pm  |  SJSU Student Union Theater  |  FREE!
John A. List, Pd.D.
Professor, University of Chicago
flyer (pdf)

“What can we learn from Uber? Three Large Scale Field Experiments on Tipping, Apologies, and the Gender Pay Gap”
Field experiments with rms have become an important creator of knowledge in the social sciences. In this lecture, John will focus on one such partnership in the ride-share industry: his work with Uber. He will focus on 3 areas: the economics of tipping, the economics of apologies, and the economics of the gender pay gap in the gig economy. All three
field experiments have driven company decisions and shed new light on important issues within economics.

John A. List is the Kenneth C. Grin Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago. He received his Ph.D. in economics at the University of Wyoming. List joined the UChicago faculty in 2005, and served as Chairman of the Department of Economics from 2012-2018. Prior to joining UChicago, he was a professor at the University of Central Florida, University of Arizona, and University of Maryland. His research focuses on questions in microeconomics, with a particular emphasis on using held experiments to address both positive and normative issues. His research includes over 200 peer-reviewed journal articles and several published books, including the 2013 international best-seller, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (with Uri Gneezy).

Past Lectures

November 19, 2019, Tues. 
Marc Joffe, MPA
Sr. Policy Analyst, Reason Foundation
“Bringing Fiscal Sanity to California Infrastructure Policy” flyer (pdf)

October 30, 2019, Wed. 
Alex Tabarrok, Ph.D.

Professor, George Mason University
“Patents, Intellectual Property, and the Rise of the Rent-Seeking Society” flyer (pdf)

September 18, 2019, Wed. 
David Skarbek, Ph.D.
“The Social Order of the Underworld: How Prison Gangs Govern the American Penal System”, flyer (pdf)

April 23rd, 2019 
Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
“Mixed-Economy Entrepreneurship: What is a Capitalist to Do?”, flyer (pdf)

March 18th, 2019  
Linda Royster Beito, Ph.D., Professor, Stillman College. Ph.D. University of Alabama
“T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer", flyer (pdf)

February 19th, 2019  
Channy Chhi Laux
"The Cambodian Genocide and Communism", flyer (pdf)

November 8, 2018 
Howard Root, 
Founder and CEO of Vascular Solutions, Inc.
"Who Watches the Prosecutors?", flyer (pdf) 

October 10, 2018  
Adam Andrzejewski, 
CEO and Founder of Open the Books
“Knowledge is Power”, flyer (pdf) 

September 27, 2018  
Safwan Shah, Ph.D, 
CEO and Founder PayActive
“Helping Low-Income Workers Get Ahead: A Market Solution”, flyer (pdf) 

April 11, 2018 John Cochrane
“The Old Lady, the Fly and the Horse: an Outline for Economic Reform”, flyer (pdf)

March 20, 2018 Clark Neily
"Incarceration Nation - How America Became the World's Leading Jailer", flyer (pdf)

February 28, 2018 Jacob T. Levy
"Black Liberty Matters", flyer (pdf)

View past lectures via the video archive