Summer economics program promotes inclusivity
The American Economics Association, or AEA, Summer Program concluded its 45th successful year at Michigan state University. The program has been housed at MSU for the last three years, during which it has prepared undergraduate students from underrepresented minority communities to pursue higher education and a career in economics.
Students in the program completed 12 credits and a research project over the course of eight weeks, on top of taking field trips and hearing from accomplished economists. The program is designed to mimic that of a graduate-level program, exposing students to the coursework and tight schedule they can expect in the doctorate program.
Program director Lisa Cook, an associate professor in the Department of Economics and James Madison College, hopes that this program will prepare students to pursue a doctorate degree in economics.
“These courses are being taught at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level, preparing them so they don’t drop out once they open a graduate school textbook,” said Cook. “This way, students who go on to further their education will be better equipped to complete their graduate programs.”
This year, 39 students from across the United States and Puerto Rico attended, and were given opportunities to explore some of Michigan’s renowned attractions, including Lake Michigan, Detroit’s Eastern Market and the Motown Museum. While classes were in session, students got the chance to hear from esteemed professors and professionals in the economics field, including economists and research assistants at the Federal Reserve, and professors and students from University of Chicago.
According to Cook, the AEA as well as the field of Economics in general struggles with inclusivity and diversity.
“Many of these students don’t have the opportunity to learn from underrepresented minority professors, so don’t know that pursuing a higher degree or a career in this field is something they can actually do,” Cook said.
The AEA will be held at MSU for one more summer before moving to another qualified university.
The AEA Summer Program is a joint effort between MSU, and Western Michigan University, and is supported by the American Economic Association and National Science Foundation, as well as other donors.