Economic speakers share knowledge at BU

Nicole Keiser, Special to The Voice

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     Featuring a variety of speakers from Ivy League Schools to top political positions each year, the Department of Economics at Bloomsburg University has a lecture series unique to the area. Originating around 20 years ago, the series has seen two speakers per academic year.

     This year’s speakers included Princeton professors Roland J.M. Bénabou and Alan B. Krueger. Students got the chance to listen to well-known and highly distinguished speakers from outside of Bloomsburg.

     “How often do students from this university get to talk to an economic advisor or to a Nobel Prize winner?” said Mehdi Haririan, professor and chair of the department of economics.

     Some top guests from the past include: Nobel laureate, Paul Krugman, professor at the Graduate Center at the City University of New York and a New York Times columnist; Stanford professor John B. Taylor, who worked under former President George Bush, George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford; and Harvard professor N. Gregory Mankiw, who worked under former President George W. Bush.

     When it comes to selecting speakers, Haririan noted that many of these economists have a wide range of knowledge and areas of specialization. Their topics often relate to the international market and are based on the current workplace and economy.

     Many of the speakers and their topics also hold political relevance. Just two years again, University of California, Irvine professor Peter Navarro came to Bloomsburg University as a speaker. Now, Navarro serves as the director the National Trade Council under President Trump. This semester’s upcoming guest, Krueger, was an economic advisor to former President Barack Obama.

     These public lectures allow students from a variety of departments to gain insights on things other than just economics. Krueger’s upcoming talk, “The Rise of Alternative Work Arrangements in the U.S,” focuses on labor in the current economic market. The audiences of these talks have students, faculty and staff across various disciplines at Bloomsburg as well as attendees from other schools and the general public participating.

     To get these distinguished guests, it takes years of planning and networking, according to Haririan. This lecture series, though hard work, is a unique and positive element to the economics department. Haririan noted that one student became an economics major after attending a lecture. “Just because [students are] in Bloomsburg, doesn’t mean they can’t have access to top speakers,” commented Haririan.