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.
Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute
The Expanding Diversity in Economics Summer Institute (EDE) is a University of Chicago program hosted by the Becker Friedman Institute for Economics (BFI) and the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings designed to identify and support talented undergraduate students from a broad range of backgrounds interested in the study of economics. Our goal is to diversify the pool of students majoring in economics, who may go on to a graduate program of study, or a career drawing on this important skill set. Each year, EDE participants engage in skill-building coursework, daily lectures, and other activities to inspire learning and promote networking. Participants who successfully complete EDE receive a stipend of $1,200 and 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 in Chicago and Washington, D.C.
For the 2023 Summer Institute, EDE participants traveled to Chicago and began with three days of intense quantitative skill-building, including training in Stata programming. Participants then received two weeks of coursework led by UChicago faculty, receiving instruction in microeconomic analysis and introductory econometrics supplemented by TA office hours to provide support and deeper understanding of concepts. A data project in small groups allowed participants to select a topic of their choice and hone their data analysis skills in Stata, presenting their findings to the cohort, staff and UChicago scholars. Participants also heard from a range of experts in the field, in addition to private sector and policy leaders. View the 2023 EDE agenda and list of guest speakers here.
The last week of 2023 EDE programming sent students to Washington, DC, for a close look at current issues in fiscal and monetary policies and the people and institutions who make them. The DC week was hosted by the Brookings Institution’s Hutchins Center, whose mission is to improve the quality and efficacy of fiscal and monetary policies and public understanding of them.
The 2024 EDE Summer Institute application will open October 1, 2023, with a deadline of January 15, 2024. The three-week program will run from June 6 – June 29, 2024. The two-city, completely in-person program will include two weeks of residential programming hosted by the Becker Friedman Institute on the University of Chicago campus, immediately followed by one week of residential programming in Washington, DC, hosted by the Hutchins Center for Fiscal and Monetary Policy at Brookings.
The 45 participants in the 2023 cohort were selected through a holistic and rigorous evaluation process involving more than 650 applications. The cohort represents 31 universities across 16 states.
“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
Ongoing Programming & Support
As part of the EDE program, BFI provides participants ongoing opportunities 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. EDE participants may apply for a paid research assistant position to work with UChicago faculty on research projects during the academic year or during the summer following their participation in the Summer Institute 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 EDE alumni who can connect over time during BFI-hosted events.
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