Charting a new course

Kate Hessling

Director of Communications and Public Relations

Kate Hessling
October 6, 2022

Charting a new course

Quick! Think of a classic, unique-to-Northwood class. Chances are the first philosophy course you took and reading essays in “When We Are Free” come to mind. That foundational class (Philosophy of American Life and Business) introduces NU students to the importance of freedom and free enterprise to human progress and prosperity, as well as to The Northwood Idea. Now everyone – not just Northwood students – can easily learn about free enterprise philosophy from our respected faculty through Northwood’s free online course.

Available anytime and anywhere, the new Philosophy of Free Enterprise online course is designed to share those fundamental lessons about free enterprise with people beyond the Northwood community. (It is also a great refresher course for NU alumni!)

The idea for the course came from a strategic session of the Northwood Idea Task Force as a way to build the public’s knowledge about – and positive perceptions of – free enterprise philosophy and a free market

“An online course is an effective and easily accessible way to share information and knowledge. Obviously not everyone can come to Northwood for classes, but many people can take an online course,” said Dr. Mamiko Reeves, assistant vice president for Free Market Partnership and International Programs. “Set up as a free and self-paced course, Philosophy of Free Enterprise enhances awareness of free enterprise, educates people about the free-market system, and highlights how these ideas support human advancement, innovation, creativity, and integrity.”

Generous donations from Donald S. (’88) and Pamela Gottwald, the Thomas F. and Harriet S. Oakley Family Trust, and several anonymous individuals made it possible for Northwood to develop and produce the online course and share it with the public.

According to a recent Gallup poll, favorable opinions about capitalism among young people have fallen from 66 percent 10 years ago to 50 percent today. The Northwood Idea Task Force saw that disquieting data as an opportunity to share enduring lessons from the University’s unique philosophy courses with a broader audience.

“Individual freedom, coupled with individual responsibility, creates an environment where the greatest good – economic or otherwise – comes to the greatest number of people,” said Dr. Dale Matcheck, professor and chair of the Economics Department. “The free-enterprise system incentivizes investment, innovation, efficiency, and determination.” Matcheck is leading the development of the Philosophy of Free Enterprise course, which includes content and lessons from several of Northwood’s highly regarded faculty members.

The first module for the Philosophy of Free Enterprise online course was launched on Founders Day 2022, a fitting
tribute to Dr. Arthur E. Turner and Dr. R. Gary Stauffer. New modules – for a total of five – will be added periodically throughout the year.

The course is user friendly and features engaging videos, easy-to-understand articles, and summary questions at the end of each module. Individuals who complete the full course will receive a certificate from Northwood University.

Designed to be easily accessible to anyone interested in learning the tenets of free enterprise, the course also emphasizes the importance of personal responsibility, freedom, innovation, and limited government. Those values are deeply rooted in Northwood’s vision and The Northwood Idea.

“I was interested in delving deeper into The Northwood Idea philosophy,” said Andrew Reder (’24 and ’25) who completed “A Brief History of Progress,” the course’s first module. “I got a much broader understanding of the history of human innovation and the large role a free market played in making human society of today wealthier, healthier, and wiser than any other time in history.”

The Philosophy of Free Enterprise online course is also designed to influence public perceptions about business as a beneficial part of a robust society and the role entrepreneurs play as drivers of economic progress. A positive introduction to these ideas will help break down some of the misconceptions people may have about business being an uncaring, impersonal endeavor.

“Thanks to its welcoming and straightforward approach, the course is accessible to anyone interested in learning more about the benefits of business and entrepreneurship,” said Reeves. “This open educational platform will also strengthen Northwood’s profile as America’s Free-Enterprise University and lead young people to the University
for an education that fits their beliefs and needs.”

To take the Philosophy of Free Enterprise online course, go to You can support
Dr. Matcheck and other Northwood professors in continuing to develop online courses by visiting or contacting Northwood’s Advancement office at 989-837-4356.

Editor’s note: This article originally was published in the Summer 2022 Idea Magazine produced by the Northwood University Advancement Department. To see the whole issue, visit

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