2018 Faculty Honorees Share Their Passions at Annual Reflections from Distinguished Faculty Lecture

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Faculty Members Received Chancellor’s Awards During 2018 Commencement ExercisesThe four faculty members honored during this year’s commencement exercises delivered mini lectures on Tuesday in the areas in which they were honored: scholarship, teaching, and service. The human side of economics, best teaching practices, and climate change lessons were all covered.

Professor of Economics Julie Nelson, who received the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Scholarship, titled her talk Economics for Humans, the same title of the just-released second edition of her 2006 book. She opened her comments by describing what she sees as characteristics of economists.

“We are rigorous and scientific. We see people as autonomous, independent, and rational. We use precise math. We study markets, and perhaps industry and government,” Nelson said. “We aren’t touchy feely and humanistic. We don’t make that sentimental assumption that people care about each other. We reject the idea that people can be connected, dependent, or emotional.”

Nelson described this as macho economics, and said there is, and should be, room for a softer approach.

“I think that economics should be done for and by human beings,” Nelson said. “I don’t think [math] should be taking over. Instead of walking around with a hammer looking for a nail, we should look at what’s in front of us and then figure out how best we can address those things.”

The winner of the Chancellor’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Shoshanna Ehrlich, talked about what she has found to be central to her teaching: a willingness to meet students halfway, a lack of a required class participation component, and a class structure where the final grade is not reliant on two or three exams or papers – nothing is worth more than 20 percent. She has found all this gives learners with different oral and written communication …

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