About Us

The Institute for the Study of Free Enterprise is a research and teaching center in the Gatton College of Business and Economics at the University of Kentucky.

Our mission is to generate intellectually rigorous research and an open dialogue to discover and understand how free enterprise affects peoples’ lives and the well-being of society.

Free enterprise—as characterized by private ownership, economic freedom, choice, and competition—is one of the most important sources of human prosperity. Additionally, government institutions—for example legal systems, property rights, and civil rights—complement markets in enhancing people’s well-being.

The backbone of the Institute, our academic research, encompasses the study of markets, market economies, and government intervention, to understand how greater human well-being is achieved with free enterprise and appropriate government institutions. The Institute supports its mission with faculty research funding, reading groups and contests for students, and public events.


  • To gain a deep, accurate, and objective understanding of free enterprise and the role of governmental, legal, and political institutions that promote the well-being of society;
  • To be intellectually rigorous, using logic and evidence, to foster our understanding and appreciation for free enterprise and complementary institutions; and
  • To engage the academic and university communities, as well as the public, in an open discussion on free enterprise.

The Institute has long had a specialty in research on health and healthcare markets. We are delighted to announce the launching of an official program to house our health related activities: the Health Economics Program. This program, launching in July 2024, started with funding from the Kentucky Hospital Association and Global Action to End Smoking. The Health Economics Program will conduct research on the role of hospitals in the free enterprise system and unique financial challenges facing them, as well as how public policy interventions influence the market for tobacco products.

The institute is currently seeking additional funding to continue our business simulation contest called the "CEO Challenge", as well as our Junto Reading Group. To inquire about potentially supporting the institute's mission, please email isfe@uky.edu.

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