October 13, 2022 – Future of Work

In Case You Missed It: Ryan Stowers On Freedom in Learning


As Charles Koch Foundation Executive Director Ryan Stowers writes in a new editorial series, history has shown that the right combination of principles need to be applied for humans to flourish.

Freedom is one of them. 

Erica Royer from Utah State University’s (USU) Huntsman School of Business recently sat down with Stowers, a USU alum, to discuss how freedom is connected to learning.

Learning opens pathways to freedom, Stowers said, and an individual’s freedom to learn is the freedom to discover their unique purpose and potential. 

That freedom must start early in childhood. Of his own time growing up in Utah, Stowers said, “There was a lot of trust. We had a lot of freedom to explore and learn by doing and by experience.” 

Stowers’ parents gave him the freedom to find the career path that was right for him. While he originally pursued medicine, at USU Stowers gravitated to the world of ideas and how they could shape culture, government, and policy. 

“My college experience was exactly what it was meant to be,” Stowers said. “For me it was the place where a lot of pivoting occurred — all the questioning and self-discovery in that period of my life that transformed the trajectory of my career pathway.”

Stowers and Royer also discussed CKF’s postsecondary education mission to promote the freedom and self-discovery that can come from individualized and lifelong learning. 

“There are millions being left behind,” Stowers said. “Most of my time now is spent on thinking how the Foundation can help to replicate the kind of empowering experience that I had at Utah State for the millions of people who aren’t being reached with these opportunities in the current post-secondary education system.”

Read Stowers’ full interview