The Saurman Provocative Lecture Series

Have you been provoked lately?

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 contact Colleen Haight at For information or to be added to our events list, please contact

Upcoming Lectures

Spring 2019 

April 23rd, 2019 (Tues.) 
Robert L. Bradley, Jr.
SJSU, SU Theater  |  5:15-6:45pm  |  free, open to public
“Mixed-Economy Entrepreneurship: What is a Capitalist to Do?”, flyer (pdf)

Entrepreneurship in a free market anticipates and serves consumers, with profits
for the winners. In the mixed economy, where business interests can define
or at least shape government intervention, a regulation, a special tax provision,
and/or a direct subsidy can make the difference between success and failure.

What is a business leader to do under political capitalism? Milton Friedman forgave
entrepreneurs for seeking and obtaining political favors, even stating that it was the
fiduciary responsibility of CEOs to rent-seek. Charles Koch has espoused Principled
Entrepreneurship where business heads are challenged to create real value, not
engage in wealth transfers or wealth diminution via political means.

In this talk, Robert Bradley presents a classical liberal framework to differentiate
good business from the “contra-capitalist corporation.” He will then go over examples
of America’s most political companies, from ADM to Enron to BP to GE to PG&E to
Tesla, to describe how government intervention brings out the worst in companies,
often to the detriment of shareholders and sometimes with tragic results.

Robert L. Bradley, Jr. is author of eight books on energy history, energy policy, and political capitalism. His most recent book, Enron Ascending: The Forgotten Years, 1984–1996 (Scrivener and John Wiley & Sons, 2018) is the first classical-liberal treatise on a business firm, illuminating both market processes and political entrepreneurship in action.
Bradley is founder and CEO of the Institute for Energy Research, a free-market advocacy
group located in Washington, DC and in Houston, Texas. He blogs at
and pens op-eds on a variety of energy and environmental issues.

March 18th, 2019 (Mon.) 
Linda Royster Beito, Ph.D., Professor, Stillman College. Ph.D. University of Alabama
SJSU, SU Theater  |  5:15-6:45pm  |  free, open to public
“T.R.M. Howard: Doctor, Entrepreneur, Civil Rights Pioneer", flyer (pdf)

February 19th, 2019 (Tues.)
Channy Chhi Laux
SJSU, SU Theater  |  5:15-6:45pm  |  free, open to public
"The Cambodian Genocide and Communism", flyer (pdf)

Past Lectures

Fall 2018 

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

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

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

Spring 2018

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