Finally in-person, emerging after the pandemic, 41 Early College Experience (ECE) Economics instructors participated in the annual professional development workshop on October 25, 2023 in Storrs.
The agenda was filled with active learning about resources for teaching three of the ECE Economics courses (ECON 1000, ECON 1201, and ECON 1202). Both micro- and macro- economics topics were covered, so every teacher was able to take away several ideas ready to be implemented in the classroom.
The presenters at the workshop were national experts in economic education: Scott A. Wolla, Economic Education Officer at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and Ariel Slonim, Curriculum Designer at the Marginal Revolution University (MRU).
The attending instructors enthusiastically participated in the following activities:
Teaching Market Structures with Gum.
Supply, Demand, Action! Harnessing interactive tools to teach supply and demand.
Monetary Policy has Changed. Has Your Teaching?
Cracking the Code: Understanding GDP and Inflation through interactive tools.
Professor Smirnova, who is an ECE Economics Liaison, concluded the workshop with an interactive presentation “Teaching Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Topics in Economics”.
Economics is the biggest UConn ECE cohort:
We have 58 UConn ECE certified Economics instructors representing 42 different partner high schools across the state.
Last academic year, we had 785 students enrolled in 64 UConn Economics courses (ECON 1000, 1201, 1202). Since some students take more than one course, there were 1225 total enrollments.
ECE Economics program makes a big impact across the State!
Matthew Dalzell’s (‘25) research paper “The Impact of Privately Owned Buses on Carbon Dioxide Emissions in Connecticut”, written in the Spring 2023 during the ECON 3431W Public Economics course taught by Professor Smirnova at the Stamford campus, was accepted for presentation at the New York State Economics Association (NYSEA) as part of the undergraduate papers competition.
On October 21, 2023, Matthew Dalzell (‘25) presented his research to a panel of judges among seven undergraduate papers that were selected.
The submitted research papers are judged in two rounds. The first round consists of the assessment of quality of papers by judges, who are professors of economics, finance, and business at various universities-members of NYSEA. From a dozen submitted undergraduate papers, seven were selected for the second round and invited to present at the conference.
The second round, which consists of paper presentation, was held as part of the NYSEA annual conference. This year, the conference was held on the campus of SUNY Old Westbury on Long Island, NY. Seven selected papers were presented at an open forum in front of the panel of judges as well as of other conference attendees (professors, professionals, and graduate students). Within this round, the presentation skills, and the ability to defend one’s research were assessed.
Matthew Dalzell (’25) provided a thorough presentation and answered many questions from judges and audience as he passionately talked about the impact of transportation industry on climate change. He put forward several policy ideas about mitigation of CO2 emissions in Connecticut.
The exposure of undergraduate students to outside audiences as they present their research helps them develop such career competencies as professionalism, communication, and self-development.
Every year, UConn Stamford campus administration recognizes two faculty members and a staff member for their contribution to the campus community. This year, Dr. Smirnova from the Department of Economics was one of the Faculty Recognition Award recipients.
This award is given annually to a faculty member who made significant contributions through their scholarly activities or service benefiting the University community. Recipients demonstrate high standards for academic achievement, sincerity and enthusiasm in teaching, relate classroom learning to real life situations, motivate students to excel, and respect students’ opinions.
On October 10, 2023, Dr. Tropp, Director of Academic Affairs & Associate Director of the Stamford Campus, presented the Award and shared commendations from multiple students.
“Dr. Smirnova is an innovative, enthusiastic professor who nurtures creativity and stimulates critical thinking and self-reflection within her students. She strives to engage her students by employing active learning techniques, team-based learning, and real-world application of course topics. She helps students to embark on their career exploration early on by inviting alumni/employers into the classroom to give students information firsthand from industry experts.”
“Over the past year, I have had the opportunity to engage in Dr. Smirnova’s classes and experiential learning initiatives at UConn. She has made a profound impact on who I am as a student, and my future career path.”
It is a rare occasion when a Writing-Intensive Economics class is visited by a professional writer. This is what the English classes usually can offer. It is even rarer when a professional writer is actually an Economics major.
Mrs. Anne McAuley Lopez, CLAS ’96, graduated from UConn-Stamford with an Economics degree and went on to a career in the banking and data-related fields, but her heart was in the research and writing aspect of the business. With one twist in her career, she decided to do what her heart desires – set up a writing consulting firm and help businesses to create content which is appealing to their clients. The mix of economics knowledge and the knack for presenting information in a concise and engaging way jolt her firm Agency Content Writer to success.
Now, Mrs. Lopez is giving back to UConn by participating in various career and alumni events. She is collaborating with Professor Smirnova on the writing-intensive course ECON 3431 W Public Economics. During the pandemic, Mrs. Lopez recorded several motivational videos that Dr. Smirnova embedded in the course on HuskyCT. This semester, though, Mrs. Lopez was able to come to ECON 3431W in person on April 13, 2023.
The students were able to ask questions about the place of writing skills in their future career. Mrs. Lopez explained that in any career path, communication competency (written and verbal communication skills) play a very important role. She also gave motivational advice to students regarding their current peer-review class assignment. She described the role of an editor and a publisher who use the same constructive criticism approach when evaluating papers, essays, and books for publication.
Students were excited for the opportunity to connect with the UConn-Stamford alumna who is generously giving her time and expertise to help them with their writing … and with their Economics career readiness.
We thank Mrs. Anne McAuley Lopez for her continuous interest in and the support of our students.
Stamford students in ECON 3431W Public Economics class were treated for a special visit from the UConn alumna, Ms. Katherine Bradbury, who is Director for International Economics and Competitiveness program of the National Security Council at the White House.
As the curriculum of the Public Economics course, taught by Professor Smirnova, includes such topics as Fiscal Federalism, and State and Local Government Finance, a visit from the White House staff seems like an excellent fit. Working with the Center for Career Development in Stamford and UConn Alumni Office, we were able to secure Katherine Bradbury’s virtual visit to this class on April 6, 2023.
Our discussion went much deeper than the curriculum topics, however. Students shifted it into the realm of career readiness and skills that are essential for a public sector job.
Ms. Bradbury talked about the importance of being a competent person, no matter what major you are pursuing in college. She shared her strive to be a well-rounded professional, the foundation of which was set by the liberal arts education she has gotten at UConn. At the White House, she said, the main trait is the ability to maintain composure under stress and the ability to critically think about a situation at hand.
Students understood that internships and extra-curricular activities will help them show a unique set of skills and experiences that they can leverage at a job interview. They were fascinated with Katherine’s story about taking the photograph with Mr. Joe Biden and the high-level description of what she does at the White House.
Such visits by alumni are very important for students’ career and self-development as well as growth in professionalism. The interactions with alumni open their eyes on various career paths that could be pursued with their major.
We thank Ms. Katherine Bradbury for the time she carved out for us and for her inspirational conversation with students.
Stamford students in ECON 2411 “Money and Banking” class taught by Dr. Smirnova were treated to a special guest visit on February 14, 2023. UConn Stamford Economics alumna, Viviana Castillo, CLAS ’20, who is Principal Finance Analyst at GlobalFoundries shared her wisdom about building knowledge base and career-relevant skills while in college, about finding a job upon graduation, about graduate school, and about current job market in the intersection of economics, finance, and tech.
While at UConn Stamford, Viviana worked in the banking industry, but she managed her time well, which allowed her to participate in the College Fed Challenge competition in 2019 as Stamford team member. She graduated in the midst of the pandemic in the Spring 2020, but did not slow down and entered graduate school at Columbia University. She continued working in the banking industry, gaining experience. After graduating with a Masters in Risk Management degree, she moved to a more interesting job in FinTech.
Viviana Castillo shared with students her approach to gaining new skills in order to prepare for demands of ever-evolving job market. She encouraged students to become career ready. In addition to content knowledge in their academic fields, students need to develop career competencies that are in high demand in the workplace, such as critical thinking, communication, and professionalism.
Students asked a lot of questions, shared their anxieties, and were grateful for Viviana’s effort to meet with them. Business leaders’ and young alumni’s visits to ongoing classes are an exciting way to connect our students to the world outside the academy and prepare them for careers upon graduation.
On February 23, 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis hosted the annual Women in Economics Symposium. This year the theme was “Role Models Matter”. The agenda included notable women-economists, who shared their love of economics, their research, and their wisdom about how to build and navigate a career path in economics.
The symposium was held in a hybrid format, in which the in-person conference in St. Louis was combined with Watch Parties across the country. Professor Natalia Smirnova arranged for the Economics Department to hold two Watch Parties, in Storrs and in Stamford.
In Stamford, the symposium was designated as the Honors Program event, and they provided pizza and other snacks. Honors Program Assistant Director, Ms. Heenehan, helped with all the logistics during the preparation stage. Economics Professor, Dr. Patricia Ritter hosted the event. Nearly 20 students from political science, economics, and business attended the symposium. We thank Political Science Professor, Dr. Ginsberg for promoting the conference in her classes.
In Storrs, the organization of the Watch Party was done by Women and Minorities in Economics Club. This Club’s activities include speaker series and various events focusing on promoting fruitful discussion about women and minorities’ issues among Economics majors.
At the 2023 Women in Economics Symposium, students heard from exciting role models with fascinating careers in economics while also learning some practical tips about job searching, finding a mentor, and more. As we aspire to develop in our students the career readiness competencies, an exposure to national leaders in economics profession allows students to navigate career opportunities, network to build relationships, and clearly and effectively exchange information and perspectives with persons inside and outside of their home campus. These skills are transferable to students’ post-graduation career and will help them showcase their professionalism during job search and interview processes.
The Center for Career Development announced its first Faculty Fellow – Dr. Natalia Smirnova. As the Career Center continues to move toward its vision of ‘creating a university-wide career readiness culture that prepares all students for post-graduation success’, they have been extending their reach to partnering with faculty and staff more intentionally over the past several years.
Dr. Smirnova’s work on career readiness is closely aligned with the mission of the Center for Career Development and its Career Champions program. Professor Smirnova in her courses encourages students to build skills that are transferable to the workplace. With her co-authors, she developed an instructional module where students learn about their major and career path by using publicly available large data set. At the Stamford campus, she collaborates with various departments to arrange career panels, builds a network of business community leaders to mentor her students, and encourages students’ participation in various national economics competitions and conferences.
As the inaugural Career Faculty Fellow, Dr. Smirnova will be developing materials related to integration of career competencies into syllabi, serving as an ambassador to academic departments and faculty, and creating a sustainable program of faculty fellowship.