Last fall the staff of SC&A had the opportunity to produce a short film about economist James Buchanan for the annual lecture series bearing his name. The film is titled Daring to Be Different: Reflections on the Life and Work of James BuchananÂ and runs about eight minutes. It was made with cooperation from The Center for Study of Public Choice and the Buchanan House.Â
Set against an original score, the film features photographs, video images and interview clips, and attempts a concise retelling of Buchanan’s life and major achievements. SC&A staff collected oral history interviews from notable economists such as Donald Beaudreaux, Peter Boettke and Thomas Borcherding. The film is now available for viewing on the Mason Archival Repository Service (MARS) website:Â
James Buchanan was awarded the Alfred Nobel Prize in Economic Science in 1986 for his work in Public Choice Theory. Public Choice is an analytical method that uses the tools of economics to address issues of importance to the field of political science. As a comprehensive model it allows for an examination of polticians’ self-interests andÂ the non-economic forces that drive political decision-making and the implementation of policy.
However, as we discovered in our research,Â Buchanan’s achievements extend well beyond his work in Public Choice; his is the quintessential boot-straps story. He came from very humble beginnings on a farm in Murfreesboro, Tennessee where he lived through The Great Depression. His mother nurtured his natural curiosity and proclivity for hard work and instilled the values that have come to shape his academic character.Â
Before coming to George Mason University in 1983 Buchanan taught atÂ Virginia Polytechnic Institute, the University of Virginia, Florida State University and the University of Tennessee.