Faculty activities

Professor Prakash at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative

Professor Nishith Prakash spoke at a recent symposium on “Social Innovations in Policy, Healthcare, and Work Organizations to Advance Gender Equality” at the Harvard Advanced Leadership Initiative (ALI), an “innovative academic program designed to unleash the potential of experienced leaders to help solve society’s most pressing challenges.

Information about the Advanced Leadership Initiative may be found online at:  https://www.advancedleadership.harvard.edu/

 

Early College Experience – Economics: Workshop 2021

On Wednesday, October 27, 2021, Dr. Smirnova conducted annual professional development workshop for teachers participating in UCONN Early College Experience (ECE) Economics program. Dr. Smirnova, who is the Economics Department coordinator of this program, welcomed 34 teachers and presented the summary of NACEP (National Alliance of Concurrent Enrollment Partnerships) accreditation requirements. Dr. Smirnova emphasized the importance of course comparability such as student learning outcomes, syllabus, assessment, and grading standards. Dr. Smirnova proudly mentioned that University of Connecticut was the first institution in the nation that received NACEP accreditation in 1999.

Next on the agenda was an important topic of Highlighting Diversity and Inclusion with FRED® Data. This segment was presented by Dr. Diego Mendez-Carbajo, Senior Economic Education Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. Participants learned how to leverage FRED Blogs in their classes by accessing FRED Blog posts through EconLowDown and using multiple-choice questions addressing data literacy, numeracy, and econ analysis. Several examples highlighting the topics of diversity and inclusion were discussed, such as labor force participation of workers with disability and women’s employment losses due to COVID-19, among others. Dr. Mendez-Carbajo suggested possible uses of FRED Blogs such as pre-lecture independent exploration, in-class application exercises, assessment, and out-of-class assignments.

Contemporary monetary policy changes were addressed by Dr. Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. His presentation called “Monetary Policy Has Changed. Has Your Instruction?” highlighted new information about changes of primary monetary policy tools, flexible inflation targeting, and nuanced changes in the wording of the Fed’s dual mandate. Dr. Wolla carefully explained the contemporary implementation of monetary policy and shared classroom resources, which address these changes ahead of changes inside economics textbooks.

UCONN Library is a great resource for getting access to databases, reading materials, videos, and teaching our students about legitimate sources, citation styles, and research skills in general. In her presentation “UConn Library Resources for You and Your ECE Students”, Sheila A. Lafferty, Information Literacy & Social Sciences Librarian, showed various research tools as well as familiarized participants with the notion that there are “not only books” that are available at UCONN Library. She guided teachers to video recordings, data sources, academic journals, popular journals, and many other things that are part of the library collection. Ms. Lafferty created a special ECE Library Guide, which summarizes her presentation and can be accessed any time.

In conclusion, Dr. Smirnova encouraged teachers to continue perfecting their craft of teaching economics in an engaging way. To aid with that endeavor, every workshop participant will receive a complimentary electronic copy of the book “Make it Stick: The Science of Successful Learning” by Brown, Roediger III, and McDaniel (2014).

Thank you, Early College Experience Office, for making this professional development workshop a success!

Professor Furtado, Visiting Scientist at Harvard’s Population Center

Professor Delia Furtado is spending the 2021-22 academic year visiting the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.

The Center brings together researchers from different disciplines across Harvard University with a common goal to “produce population-based evidence that will better inform policies needed to create healthy and resilient societies.” The Center has four main research focal areas:  Social & Environmental Determinants of Population Health, Aging Societies, Workplace & Well-Being, and Social & Family Demography.

While all of Professor Furtado’s research touches on at least one of these broad areas, during her stay at the center, she will focus on her work on the impacts of immigrant labor on long-term care markets.

Professor Lanza Launches Economic Newsletter

Professor Steven Lanza has launched The Connecticut Green Sheet, a short quarterly newsletter on the state’s economy (see the coverage by CT News Junkie at: https://directory.ctnewsjunkie.com/2021/05/quarterly-newsletter-analyzes-connecticut-economy/).

The Green Sheet “takes a page” from the department’s old Connecticut Economy Quarterly Review (the green is a nod to the Quarterly’s signature dark cyan accent color) and offers readers a current indicator of state economic activity (the General Drift Indicator or GDI) plus a forecast of anticipated nonfarm job changes.

Stamford Team Competes in the College Fed Challenge 2020

This year, the College Fed Challenge competition was virtual. It was a challenging transition to understand the intricacies of new rules and regulations and to pivot in September to be ready by October 9. But the UConn-Stamford team was well-organized, enthusiastic, and well-prepared to put forward the arguments that the current economic situation warrants keeping the target federal funds rate unchanged.

The 2020 team consisted of five Stamford students: Cullen Murphy (ACES, sophomore), You Kim (Financial Management and Economics, senior), Shayla Siljkovic (Linguistics and Philosophy, sophomore), Eileen Zhu (Economics, junior), and Rashana Weerasinghe (Business Data Analytics, sophomore). They worked virtually; very diligently, creatively, and collaboratively. They describe the challenges of this new environment as the loss of a camaraderie of in-person interactions, technical difficulties, and physical isolation. However, the presentation that they put forward combines the intellectual rigor of each member, deep research of economic indicators, and a collective vision of what the forecast of current economic conditions looks like.

You can watch their presentation here.

Our team did not make the next round of the competition this year, which is, of course, disappointing. However, the learning that has occurred was a worthwhile experience. First, each student has developed an expertise in a selected economic indicator or industry: each team member researched, constructed graphs, and made connections with overall economic development as well as with monetary policy implications. Furthermore, students gained highly valuable skills such as critical thinking and teamwork. These are the skills that are transferable to other professional environments such as a graduate school or a workplace.

You can read the students’ reflections here:

Cullen Murphy – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

You Kim – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Shayla Siljkovic – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Rashana Weerasinghe – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

Eileen Zhu – Stamford Fed Challenge 2020

The course that will be used to prepare a team for the next year’s competition is ECON 3492 – Practicum. It is offered every semester. Stamford students who are interested in joining the team should contact Dr. Smirnova. The student’s major does not matter – all majors are welcome! What matters is the desire to learn about the economy and monetary policy, and to be open-minded to work well in a team.

 

Early College Experience Economics Workshop

Every year, the Economics Department hosts the professional development workshop for high school teachers of economics who are part of the UConn Early College Experience (ECE) Program. This program provides opportunities for high school students to take a UCONN course for credit at their high school. The teachers who offer such a course attend the annual workshop and are certified by the Department. Dr. Smirnova is a new coordinator for the ECE Economics program.

On Wednesday, October 28, 2020, 29 teachers from all over the State of Connecticut attended a virtual professional development workshop organized by Dr. Smirnova, the Department of Economics, and the Office of Early College Programs. The agenda was packed with useful and up-to-date information that could be used in the classroom right away.

Dr. Diego Mendez-Carbajo, Senior Economic Education Specialist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis presented a talk “Remote Active Learning with FRED Interactives”, which demonstrated new approaches of using the FRED database for teaching various topics.

Dr. Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Coordinator at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis talked about “Teaching New Tools of Monetary Policy”, which presented the up-to-date information about monetary policy tools that have changed substantially in the past couple of years and especially since August 20202. Dr. Wolla showed various resources that could be used in teaching and studying Macroeconomics and Money and Banking.

Dr. Carlos J. Asarta, Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Economic Education and Entrepreneurship at the University of Delaware presented his new research “Teaching Digitally-Minded Students during the Pandemic and Beyond”. The data collected by Dr. Asarta indicates that the profession has not yet successfully pivoted to using engaging strategies in teaching and, therefore, there are challenges in recruiting and retaining economics majors. Dr. Asarta suggested several ways of making economics more interesting, more applied, and more fun for contemporary students.

The feedback from teachers was overwhelmingly positive. Everyone learned a lot and took away many resources to be used in the classroom.

By Natalia V. Smirnova

Professor Ross on Panel on the Economic Recovery of CT from the Pandemic

Professor Stephen Ross recently took part in a panel discussion about the economic recovery from the pandemic in Connecticut:

Bouncing Forward from the Pandemic: Economic Disparities, School, Childcare, and Residential Integration

Thursday, October 15, 2020, 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm

Moderator: Beth Bye, Commissioner, Office of Early Childhood

State of the State on Economic Disparities: Dr. Stephen Ross, UConn Departments of Economics and Public Policy

Residential Zoning Reform: Dr. Saud Anwar, State Senator

Addressing Challenges Faced by the Working Poor : Dr. Lauren Ruth, Research & Policy Director, ConnecticutVoices for Children

High Potential Programs to Boost High School Students to a Family Living Wage: Dr. Lyle Wray, ExecutiveDirector, CRCOG

The panel was recorded and is available to view online at:

https://kaltura.uconn.edu/media/October+15%2C2020+Bounce+ForwardA+Bouncing+Forward+from+the+PandemicA+Economic+Disparities%2C+School%2C+Childcare%2C+and+Residential+Integration/1_3tm63n59

Professor Ross Chairs UEA Student Prize Committee

Professor Ross chaired the Student Prize Committee for the 2020 Virtual Urban Economics Association Meetings.  To see the prize winners and the full prize committee, go to:

http://www.urbaneconomics.org/meetings/awards.html

For the actual papers, see the conference program at:

http://www.urbaneconomics.org/meetings/virtual2020/program.html

MSQE Student Tracking Pandemic featured in UConn Today

MSQE student Yuansun (Sonny) Jiang’s COVID-19 Connecticut Data Visualization website has been featured in UConn Today: 

UConn Student Tracks Pandemic With Data

Using the skills he was learning in Prof. Oskar Harmon’s Writing and Communication for Economics and Business graduate course, Jiang began assembling the COVID-19 Connecticut Data Visualization website, where he daily charts the pandemic’s course both here in Connecticut and across the country.”

 

Read the full article at https://today.uconn.edu/2020/04/uconn-student-tracks-pandemic-data

Information about the MSQE Program may be found online at https://msqe.econ.uconn.edu/

Women in Economics Symposium

On February 27, 2020, two Economics students from the Storrs campus (Daija Brunson and Pershae Gilling) and one Economics student from the Stamford campus (Viviana Castillo) got the chance to travel to Cleveland, OH, for a Women in Economics Symposium. In the morning of the event the students got the chance to meet Research Assistants for the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and ask them questions about their journey so far. A lot of insight was given by the Research Assistants and they were very helpful in providing guidance to the students about what they should do in the future.

The students also got the chance to tour the bank and they were even able to go down to the cash processing center where they could see how automation plays a big role in their daily processes.

The symposium was held at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland and included keynote addresses from Dr. Lisa Cook, Director of the AEA Summer Program and Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Founder of Economic Education Institute. In addition, during the symposium the students got the chance to sit through different discussion panels with topics about what to do with a degree in economics, how to get a PHD, and how to navigate the workforce as a female.

During the reception they got a chance to meet other students and employees from the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, including Dr. Loretta Mester, the President and CEO of the bank. Overall, the full day was filled with a lot of information and it provided the students with a lot of guidance as to what they should do in the future. The students came back feeling very energized and excited as to what the future holds for them.

 

Written by Viviana Castillo and Dr. Natalia Smirnova