Expanding Diversity in Economics: A UChicago Summer Institute

The Diversity Challenge in Economics

There is little diversity among economics majors compared to other fields. Women account for 28.4 percent of the nation’s economics majors, according to a recent study, while just 14.7 percent of economics majors are Black, Hispanic, or Native American. Diversity is important because it can inform research questions and lead to otherwise unanticipated answers. A broader range of perspectives will enhance the field’s contributions to public policy and society.

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Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute

An important step in tackling this diversity challenge is to encourage more college students from a broad range of backgrounds to study economics. It is vital that the economics profession improves its outreach to students early in their academic careers. A goal should be to excite students about the many ways the study of economics can impact society, and to do so before students have chosen other undergraduate majors.

Through EDE, BFI’s aim is to attract extraordinary students from colleges and universities around the country who may not otherwise consider studying economics — and to get them excited about this important area of study through exposure to some of the most innovative faculty in the field. Each year, EDE participants engage in skill-building coursework, daily lectures, and other activities to inspire learning and promote networking.

For students accepted to the EDE Summer Institute, BFI provides a stipend of $1,200. Participants who are Pell Grant recipients receive a stipend of $2,400. BFI covers costs of travel, housing, and group activities for EDE participants for on-campus programming.

“Talent is dispersed widely and this program will bring a wider set of people into economics. We expect that the result will be a deeper understanding of the world that ultimately allows economics to more effectively influence the world.”

Michael Greenstone, Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor, UChicago; Director, Becker Friedman Institute

Learn more about the 2022 cohort

Learn more about the 2021 cohort

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Program Format, Dates, and Sample Agenda

The 2022 EDE Summer Institute ran from June 6 – June 26.

Virtual Quantitative Skills Bootcamp: June 6 – 10

Residential On-Campus Programming: June 12 – 26

Beginning Summer 2022, EDE unveiled an innovative, five-day, virtual quantitative skills bootcamp immediately preceding the 15 days of residential on-campus programming. The quantitative skills bootcamp aims to create a level foundation for all participants, exposing and preparing them for two weeks of rigorous coursework in economic theory and quantitative economics, statistical software programming, and data analysis.

During the residential component of the program, participants receive instruction in microeconomic analysis and introductory econometrics supplemented by TA office hours to provide support and deeper understanding of microeconomic concepts — as well as aspirational mentorship from current UChicago PhD students.

Sample Agendas (All times CT):

Virtual Quantitative Skills Bootcamp: June 6 – 10

  • 10:00 – 10:10 AM: Morning Meeting
  • 10:10 – 11:40 AM: Morning Bootcamp
  • 11:40 AM – 12:00 PM: Break
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Virtual Guest Speaker
  • 1:00 – 1:30 PM: Break
  • 1:30 – 3:00 PM: Afternoon Bootcamp
  • 3:00 PM: Day Ends

Residential On-Campus Program: June 12 – 26

  • 9:00 – 9:30 AM: Morning Meeting
  • 9:30 – 11:30 AM: Microeconomic Inquiry Course
  • 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Break
  • 12:00 – 1:00 PM: Lunch or Lunch n’ Learn w/Guest Speaker
  • 1:00 – 1:30 PM: Break
  • 1:30 – 3:30 PM: Applied Economic Analysis Course
  • 3:30 – 4:00 PM: Break
  • 4:00 – 5:30 PM: Data Project or TA Office Hours
  • After 5:30 PM: Dinner, Evening Programming or Excursions

EDE Summer Institute Areas of Focus

The EDE Summer Institute covers three main areas of study drawing on the expertise of University of Chicago faculty:

  1. Microeconomic Inquiry. This daily course provides exposure to concepts, experiments, and quantitative aspects of microeconomics and price theory. Participants are introduced to economic theory, then use experiments and data as testing agents, before moving into advanced components of experiments. They also dive deeper into firm level aspects of economic theory, including the labor and human capital side of markets.
  2. Applied Economic Analysis. This daily course provides an introduction to univariate and multivariate linear regression and its uses in econometrics. Participants draw a sharp distinction between structural (or causal) and reduced form (or descriptive) uses of linear regression. Participants are instructed in the use of the programming language “R” to complement the more theoretically oriented coursework.
  3. Using Economics to Answer Big Questions. An interactive luncheon and evening speaker series led by UChicago scholars and leaders in the field introduces participants to cutting-edge research and insights on a range of issues, including climate change, poverty and inequality, and global trade, among others.

Participating UChicago Faculty

EDE Summer Institute sessions include more than 20 UChicago faculty and outside speakers each year, including Nobel Laureates, John Bates Clark medalists, and current or former Council of Economic Advisers economists. The curriculum features expansive topics from development economics to environmental policy research.

The 2022 cohort received daily course instruction will focus on microeconomic inquiry taught by Professors John List, Matthew Notowidigdo, and Chad Syverson, and on applied economic analysis taught by Fiona Burlig, Damon Jones, and Alex Torgovitsky.

Lunch and evening guest speakers joined EDE throughout the program to discuss a range of economic topics. The full speaker calendar can be found here.

Long-Term Support

As part of the EDE program, BFI provides participants chances to engage in a menu of research, networking, and programmatic offerings as they pursue opportunities that further their development and study of economics. Some of which include:

  • Research Assistant Programs. Summer Institute participants may apply for a paid research assistant position to work with UChicago faculty on research projects during the academic year or following summer to enhance their skills and experience — an invaluable opportunity for participants applying to graduate programs, or for internships or research assistantships with other organizations or academic institutions.
  • Academic Year Programming. BFI offers wide-ranging workshops and programming to support EDE alumni in their economics career exploration, including resume and mock interview workshops, meet-and-greets with early career research professionals and economics PhD students, and connecting with representatives from the public and private sectors.
  • Networking Opportunities. The program fosters lasting connections among students, both within and across cohorts. Over the years, we are creating a broad network of Summer Institute alumni who can connect over time during BFI-hosted events.