Law Professor Sharon Foster to Deliver a Lecture on The Birth of Competition Law

According to the PEW Research Centre, the wealth gap between America’s poorest and richest families more than doubled between 1989 and 2016.

This perpetuating problem of wealth accumulation in the hands of a few has created unrest. It will be the topic of a public lecture that the U of A Honors College will offer next week.

Sharon Foster, Sidney Parker Davis Jr. Professor of Law will moderate the discussion titled “Economic Thought & Competition Law”, which examines those topics in both the ancient and middle ages.

The public lecture will take place online via Zoom at 5 :15 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2012. For access to the lecture, please complete this online interest form.

Foster stated, “We have a wealth concentrated problem.” It causes economic instability and political instability as well as civil unrest. Do we see that now? What lessons can be learned from the past regarding what to look out for and how to fix these instabilities. The competition law has given us a lot of insight into many of these issues.”

Foster’s lecture previews the Spring 2022 Honors College Signature Seminar in Economic Thought and Competition Law.


Economic thought is the study and analysis of what economists think happened, what happened or what was going to happen in a particular economy.

While there is no evidence of an actual cartel in Mesopotamia or monopoly, the Reforms at Urkagina of King of Mesopotamian city-states Girsu and Lagash in Mesopotamia mention political corruption as a result of concentration of wealth in a few. Concerns that are addressed in modern antitrust law.

Other ancient Mesopotamian legal codes also address economic justice, preventing high monopolistic pricing. Genesis 37: 1-11 of the Bible tells the story Joseph interprets the dream of Pharaoh. This story is sometimes referred to as a tale about a grainmonopoly.

An understanding of the history of economic thought, from the ancient period to the Middle Ages, is essential in order to understand the origins and evolution of competition law or, as it is commonly known, antitrust law.

Despite the abundance of historical evidence relating competition law, very little historical analysis has been done on competition law in the ancient or middle ages.

Foster acknowledged that the time period is very long, but that scholars have not paid much attention to it.

Foster’s Signature seminar will examine economic thought, starting with Mesopotamia’s ancient city states from around 2402 B.C.E. Through the Middle Ages to 1400 C.E.

The main focus of the seminar will be on economic thought regarding cartels/monopolization as expressed through ancient codes and biblical sources, canon laws, philosophical writings and literature. The Signature Seminar will explore the connections between ancient economic thought and modern economic theory in the context of competition law using these resources from both the ancient and the middle ages.

Foster said that Foster saw parallels in Foster’s view of the concentration wealth in the hands and eventually creating political instability. We saw that many people were being displaced after 2008’s financial crisis. They lost their homes, lost their jobs and had to stop attending school. In some countries, the gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened. Also, we have seen a shrinking middle class in countries where people are economically well-off.

The pandemic in 2020 caused by labor shortages led to worsening conditions.

There were however signs of a rebounding economy, such as higher wages and an expanding middle class.

Foster explained that a strong and solid middle class is going to mean that, in the long-term, the economy will be healthier because more people are buying goods and working.

Sharon Foster joined School of Law’s faculty in 2000. In fall 2006, she was appointed tenure-track assistant professor. Before her arrival at the School of Law, she was an adjunct faculty member at Loyola Law School from 1998-2000. She taught in the Legal Research & Writing Program. She also gave courses in international legal research, international finance, and other topics. She also coached the Jessup International Law Moot Court group.

Foster obtained her bachelor’s degree in 1983 from the University of California at Los Angeles, and her J.D. in 1987. Loyola Law School 1987. Her LL.M. Her LL.M. was earned in 1987 at Loyola Law School. She also received a Ph.D. in legal studies in 2007 at the University of Edinburgh. Between 1987 and 2000 she was in private law in Los Angeles, where she specialized in international and construction law. Her most recent writings were in the area antitrust and international.


Two Honors College Signature Seminars are scheduled for Spring 2022: Economic Thought and Competition Law.

The second seminar, Euclid is taught by Joshua Young (rare books librarian) and mathematics professor Edmund Harriss (electronics).

The Deans of each college can nominate professors to this program. Those selected to teach will be named Dean’s Fellows in Honors College.

Honors students are required to apply in order to be considered. The Signature Seminars web site has the course application. The deadline for applications is Monday, October 25.

About the Honors College. The University of Arkansas Honors College was created in 2002. It brings together the best undergraduate students and top university professors for transformative learning experiences. The Honors College grants up to 90 new freshman fellowships, which provide $72,000 in four-year terms and more that $1 million in undergraduate research and study overseas grants. The Honors College has a reputation for attracting top-quality students and graduating with them. Honors students have small, intimate classes. Programs are available in all disciplines and tailored to student’s academic interests. Interdisciplinarity is encouraged. Honors College students have studied abroad for 50%, and mentored research has been done by 100% of them.

About the University of Arkansas. The University of Arkansas, Arkansas’ flagship institution, offers an international-competitive education in over 200 academic programs. Established in 1871, Arkansas’ flagship institution, the U of A contributes $2.2 billion to Arkansas’ economy. Through the teaching of new skills and knowledge, entrepreneurship and job creation, discovery through research, creativity, and the training of professional disciplines, the U of A has more than 200 academic programs. The Carnegie Foundation rates the U of A as one of the top 3% of U.S. universities and colleges with the highest levels of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks U of A among the top public universities nationwide. Arkansas Research News shows you how the U of A contributes to a better world.