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Nobel Laureate George Akerlof Engages Students in New Economics

Nobel Laureate George Akerlof
Engages Students in New Economics

by Linda Hou '13

George Akerlof
Economist George Akerlof

George Akerlof, a 2001 recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences, and Robert Johnson, the Executive Director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), are two economists who hope to encourage new types of thinking, especially among students of economics.

The pair recently spoke on the Swarthmore campus as a part of INET's College Outreach program. Their goal was to engage students in questioning the foundations of economics. Akerlof and Johnson spoke to students and faculty about new perspectives in the assumptions of economics and problems in current economic theory.

"One of the reasons that INET especially came to Swarthmore was because Swarthmore students are interested in questions and they're willing to question things at a fundamental level, and we wanted to enlist your help," Akerlof says. "We need you, because we need the next generation to tackle these fundamental problems."

"It was great to get some perspective on the thought process of a great economic thinker," says Dan Stair '11, one of a dozen students who talked with Akerlof after the lecture. "Usually, I would just get to contemplate the Nobel Prize-winning paper he wrote, but seeing how he approached problems in economics in search of truly novel ways of thinking about them was a great experience for me as an economics student."