2020-2021 Luce Scholar

Austin was born and raised, with no pun intended, in Austin, Texas. He attended the University of Oklahoma on OU’s National Merit Scholarship, and graduated in January 2020 with degrees in Letters (a combination of history, literature, and philosophy) and Economics. Both of these fields addressed his interest in political economy, but they did so with different methodologies. Outside of the classroom, he led a four-year project within Student Government to establish a new office devoted to addressing students’ legal needs. He interviewed prospective attorneys, designed the financial infrastructure, and served as chairman of the board. Austin’s research on American intellectual history was selected for publication at OU, and he is now one of four co-authors of a forthcoming book on American constitutionalism.

Austin spent the summer of 2019 in Washington D.C. as a Fellow at the Hertog Foundation, mining great texts for insight that could guide contemporary public policy and engaging with policymakers. Yet the depth of his interest in politics is coupled with a delight in learning across fields. At OU, Austin led or participated in reading groups covering more than 30 books, facilitating discussion on topics ranging from quantum mechanics and evolutionary biology to Buddhism and James Joyce. He was also honored to present his research on his favorite author, Dostoevsky. Later, his long-running interest in German philosophy drew him to Heidelberg, Germany. Those experiences, and the bodies of knowledge to be found in biology, literature, and psychology frequently improved his understanding of politics and the value of approaching familiar phenomena from novel directions. He thinks that the task of genuinely understanding one another, across culture and place, is a great moral endeavor, and aspires to serve in it.