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Economics Dept. Reform Leads to National Award


Hamilton’s Economics Department received one of Insight into Diversity’s 2021 Inspiring Programs in STEM Awards in recognition of its major curricular reforms designed to attract and retain underrepresented students.

According to the application submitted by Ann Owen, professor of economics and department chair, “a key component [of the reform] is a new Economic Theory and Evidence course that integrates the teaching of introductory economics and statistics with an understanding of the causes and consequences of inequality. The overall philosophy of the course is that by broadening students’ perceptions of this discipline, the College can widen its appeal to those with diverse interests and perspectives.”

Owen and Professor of Economics Paul Hagstrom detailed the reform and its outcome in a paper published in the June 2021 issue of The Journal of Economic Education. They describe the curricular reform as being “aimed at communicating the broad range of social issues that economists study while engaging students in active learning strategies.”

The changes also prompted students to take additional economics courses and major in economics and broadened students’ views of what economists do. The professors found that “a curriculum that engages students in empirical work on important social issues early in the major appeals to all students.”

Insight into Diversity is a national publication that focuses on diversity, discrimination, minorities, and women in the workplace, and general and academia-specific human resources topics. This honor, according to the publication, “recognizes the effort that colleges, universities, and outside organizations have undertaken to empower underrepresented and women students of all levels to succeed in the science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) disciplines.”

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