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Publications in VIVO

Alston, Eric

Scholar In Residence


Research Areas research areas


research overview

  • Eric Alston's research agenda and teaching are centered in the fields of law and economics and institutional and organizational analysis, which he applies to research questions in the development of rights along frontiers, the design and implementation of constitutions, and digital governance challenges with an emphasis on cryptocurrencies and blockchain networks. Alston’s publications include constitutional design studies, the emergence of economic institutions in the frontier US West, and a range of questions in the design and governance of blockchain networks. His current grant work involves a National Science Foundation project exploring the development of Colorado given land entry records and census data, and a Templeton World Charity Foundation project examining quantitative measures of digital currency market development and manipulation. Alston’s outreach and service activities include advising constitutional design projects, as well as providing a range of governance design expertise for digitally networked organizations, including one of the world’s first data trusts.


  • law and economics, property rights, constitutional drafting, constitutional implementation, legal history, economic history, new institutional economics, institutional analysis, institutional design, comparative constitutional law, property law, water law, blockchain, decentralization, human rights, rights of nature, ecuador, comparative international law, political economy, public choice, decentralization, blockchain, cryptocurrencies, digital governance


selected publications


courses taught

  • BCOR 1015 - The World of Business
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018 / Fall 2018 / Spring 2019 / Spring 2020 / Spring 2021 / Fall 2021 / Spring 2022 / Spring 2024
    Provides an overview of the nature business in a global economy. In addition to exploring the economic, governmental, social and environmental context in which businesses operate, students will discover how business creates value and takes advantage of opportunities and challenges. Using examples, cases and projects, students will learn about the business functions in an integrated format. Weekly discussion of current events will focus on entrepreneurship, ethics, international business, business and society, and other topics.
  • CESR 3050 - Sustainable Space Governance
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2022 / Spring 2024
    As more countries and companies develop extraterrestrial ambitions, the sustainability of space activities is at risk. While outer space is vast, Earth�s orbit is facing debris, satellite congestion, and radiofrequency interference. Following lessons from exploring Antarctica and the Deep Sea, the course surveys international outer space law and the role of private and public actors in exploration of the final frontier. Students will also consider prospective questions in space governance like planetary settlement and asteroid mining.
  • CESR 4825 - Experimental Seminar
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Spring 2021
    Offered irregularly to provide opportunity for investigation of new frontiers in Social Responsibility.
  • FNCE 4070 - Financial Markets and Institutions
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2020 / Fall 2021 / Spring 2022 / Spring 2024
    Examines the economics of financial markets and the management of financial institutions, both domestic and international. Topics include an overview of U.S. and international financial markets, pricing and risk factors, interest rates, markets for securities and financial services and markets for derivative financial instruments. For students planning to take FNCE 4000 and FNCE 4070, it is recommended that FNCE 4070 precede rather than follow FNCE 4000.
  • FNCE 4080 - Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies - Speculation or Innovation?
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2020 / Spring 2022 / Spring 2023 / Spring 2024
    2017 and 2018 have proven to be major years for cryptocurrencies but despite the number of individuals purchasing and using cryptocurrencies, the typical investor's understanding of the underlying business models of different cryptocurrencies is quite limited. Moreover, general understanding of blockchain applications separate from cryptocurrency application is quite lacking. In addition to blockchain and cryptocurrencies, this course will introduce students to novel fundraising mechanisms like ICOs, the current stance of federal (and international) regulators with respect to cryptocurrencies, and some of the most promising business applications of blockchain unrelated to cryptocurrencies. Given the market capitalization of cryptocurrencies, and the rapidly increasing salience of commercial blockchain applications, a more rigorous grounding in cryptocurrencies and their underlying technology is of increasing importance for many roles in the private sector.
  • FNCE 4828 - Experimental Seminar: Social Institutions: Theory, History and Methods
    Primary Instructor - Spring 2018
    Introduces students to the cornerstone institutions of modern developed societies: (i) property rights; (ii) organizations, both public and private; (iii) monetary and financial systems; (iv) political systems; (v) legal systems; and (vi) the cultural underpinnings of economic development. By focusing on how societies agree upon rules to facilitate mutually beneficial outcomes, the course provides a deeper understanding of the economic and legal foundations of democratic market economies. Given this focus on the rules of the game, the course also serves as a great preparation to law school, as well as an introduction to the type of thinking needed to succeed therein.
  • MBAC 6002 - Social, Moral and Economic Foundations for Business
    Primary Instructor - Fall 2019
    Examines historical context for the rise of modern business institutions and market economies, and interrelationships in various business objectives. Connects how different economic approaches address the allocation of existing and future scarce resources, and how individual economic freedom relates to various societal objectives. Explores concepts of core business relevance including intellectual property, the role of ethics in the production of commercial information, and the value of diverse information sets in decision-making.


International Activities

geographic focus

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