Student Perspectives

Below are some comments students made about their experience in this Reading Group.

"I love being able to analyze Stephen Levitt's Freakonomics with President Garner. We look at all aspects of Levitt's arguments and relate it to personal experiences while incorporating academics from a variety of disciplines. It's exciting to meet in President Garner's home and to get to test Katrina's new pound cake recipes, too." -- Maggie Rudick

"The Freakonomics Reading Group is truly representative of the Cornell Experience. Intellectually curious students, an accessible administration, and a truly extraordinary opportunity are typified as students critically discuss and challenge the premises of the book, in the home of President Garner, where he serves as an equal contributor to the debate." -- Amber Fricke

"The Freakonomics Reading Group is yet another unique opportunity offered at Cornell. We read the book in a group consisting majors such as economics, psychology, biochemistry, and politics, with each student contributing a special expertise and opinion." -- Mehrdad Zarifkar

Reading Group --- Day 1  

Freakonomics Reading Group at President Garner's house. Everyone has their books and are ready to start. 


Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner 

Cornell students with Becker and Murphy  

Cornell Students, President and Katrina Garner, Jim McWethy with Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy 

Discussing a book with the author!  

Author Steven Levitt talking to students about his book, Freakonomics 

Discussing rogue economics  

President Garner listens as student Chelsea Coyne discusses her thoughts on the book 

Veronica Czastkiewicz with Steven Levitt  

Veronica and Mehrdad discussing their favorite passages in the book 

Amber Fricke with Steven Levitt  


Students arrive at the University of Chicago  

At the Becker Center's conference on Economics in Chicago and meeting with Steven Levitt 

Audrey Saunders talking with Nobel Laureate Gary Becker  

Saunders asks Becker what made him get into the field of economics 

Audrey Saunders with Steven Levitt  


Lunch, table 1  

Lunch time at the Becker Center for Price Theory 

Spring 2007 Reading Group

Freakonomics: A Rogue Economicst Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

Eighteen students joined President Les Garner, his wife Katrina, and professor of mathematics, Ann Cannon in his home for discussions on Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. Students questioned topics such as "why do drug dealers still live at home with their moms and how the Ku Klux Klan is like a group of real estate agents." Following their conversations, the group traveled to Chicago to meet coauthor Steven D. Levitt, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago and director of The Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory. Students participated in a Becker Center conference lecture, attended a lunch with Levitt as the keynote speaker, and held a 90-minute private meeting with him about his book.


Says Garner, "Leading the Freakonomics Reading Group was a wonderful experience for me and (I believe) the students.  Freakonomics is a provocative book, and it provoked active debate and dialogue within the reading group.  One of my objectives was to give the students the opportunity to think critically about complicated issues and to probe analysis of those issues in order to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the analysis.  The students excelled, and when they had the chance to discuss their views with Steve Levitt, the author, I admires the clarity of their thinking and the articulate way they presented their ideas."