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Since 2007, the Becker Friedman Institute’s Price Theory Summer Camp has invited PhD students from outside the University of Chicago to campus through a highly competitive process, for a deep dive on price theory, which emphasizes the application of basic economic tools to problems, informal networking and faculty lectures.
During this year’s intensive one-week program, students heard lectures from UChicago price theory faculty and camp organizers, Steve Levitt and Kevin Murphy, and experienced a series of “Chicago-style” seminars where faculty presented their research in progress.
“The way that Kevin Murphy was encouraging us to think about theory was rejuvenating,” said Elise Marifian, a PhD student at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. “Seeing how the tools we already know can work in ways we didn’t realize has been encouragement to always go back to first principles and examine how what we’re doing relates to the underlying foundations we were taught.”
Participants also work on problem sets in workshops and have opportunities to discuss their own work with some of the world’s leading economists. The camp aims to support early career scholars in examining behavior through the lens of markets, prices, and incentives, preparing them to work creatively in this productive vein.
“There’s just a very elegant way the lecturers present the points they make. You can make very deep points with very elegant and simple models. I appreciated that an awful lot,” said William Matchem, a PhD student at the London School of Economics. “I could never have predicted the quality of the camp and how enjoyable it’s been.”
In addition, the annual camp provides ample time for informal networking and exchange between students from around the world with varying research interests. This year’s conference began with an open house hosted by MarrGwen and Stuart Townsend, who provide generous support for the program. Throughout the week, participants enjoyed meals and activities together, including an architecture boat cruise of downtown Chicago.
“I’ve met a handful of people that I could see myself really looking forward to seeing at conferences and bouncing ideas off of or even co-authoring papers with,” said Elisa Jacome, a PhD student at Princeton University. “There were also a lot of women here, and it’s always great as a woman in economics to meet other women in economics.”
In all, nearly 350 Price Theory Summer camp alumni are now working in departments and private enterprises around the world, forming a robust network of economists steeped in Price Theory, which holds that economic tools provide a powerful analysis that can explain what is going on in the world. This year’s 42 participants join the growing cohort.
“I think I’ll take from the week the relationships that I’ve formed and plan to nurture with other PhD students and the professors,” said Chika Okafor, a PhD student at Harvard University. “I view it as building a toolkit through which one can creatively and convincingly engage on addressing tough social problems.”
For more information about this initiative, visit the Price Theory Initiative Page.
Generous support for this program has been provided by MarrGwen and Stuart Townsend.