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April 1, 2015

Classroom demonstrations bring economics to life

Innovative instructors, including Professor Chris Ellis, design classroom activities to better illustrate important principles.

Professor Chris Ellis gets the students’ attention. “Up for bid now is one Revolutionary’s Kit,” he calls out, pulling an assortment of squirt guns and a Guy Fawkes mask from a grocery sack and passing them around the classroom. “This is a second-price, sealed-bid auction,” he says. “Start working on your bidding strategy with your group.”

Each group receives 100 virtual credits to bid. Students gather for discussion, and after a few minutes, a flurry of papers are shuffled to the front of the room. Ellis reads the bids aloud, and determines the winner.

He asks the winning group to explain the reasoning behind their bidding strategy, which leads into a classroom discussion about the central characteristic behind second-price, or Vickrey, auctions—the tendency for the bidder to bid the true valuation for the item.

Classroom demonstrations such as these are commonplace in Ellis’ Games People Play (EC 327) course, where students learn how to logically think through strategic situations in which the outcome of their choices are dependent on their actions and the actions of other participants. These types of circumstances arise frequently in situations related to politics, war, and business negotiations.

In this class session, Ellis invites the student teams to bid on a selection of gag gifts (and even a five-dollar bill) as a way of illustrating the different strategies buyers and sellers may use to gain an advantage in a bidding contest.

Professor Ellis finds these activities help his students grasp these economics concepts more effectively. “They’re entertaining and interactive, so it keeps them engaged and learning,” he says. “It allows students to explore these ideas in their own way rather than having them fed to them in a lecture format.

“Plus, it’s always a lot of fun.”


February 25, 2015

Tim Duy calculates UO’s economic “footprint”

duy_100x100The University of Oregon is a multi-billion dollar contributor to the state economy that planted a $2.3 billion footprint on Oregon’s fiscal landscape last year, according to a new study by UO economics professor Tim Duy.

In addition, nearly $1.3 billion constituted new economic activity that wouldn’t have happened without the university. Add to that more than 10,000 people who are employed by the UO, including student workers, regular employees and Graduate Teaching Fellows (GTFs).

Read the full article that appeared in Around the O.

February 19, 2015

Professor’s blog makes top of Chicago Tribune “sites you should read” list

thomaProfessor Mark Thoma’s well-regarded blog, Economist’s View, has topped another list, this time getting the first-place mention in the February 18, 2015 post from Noah Smith of Bloomberg News, writing for the Chicago Tribune’s online edition.

His article, “Economics blog sites you should read,” lists Economist’s View top among the “Gatekeepers” category, calling it “the backbone of the econ blogosphere.”

“This is your one- stop shop if you’re starting out,” Smith continues.

Smith focuses his article on independent bloggers who don’t represent a major media platform.

Mark Thoma joined the UO’s Department of Economics in 1987



January 21, 2015

SAIL Program honored at UO MLK Awards Luncheon—new photos!

The Summer Academy to Inspire Learning (SAIL), an innovative youth program established by the Department of Economics, will be honored Wednesday, January 21 at the UO’s annual MLK Awards luncheon.

The SAIL program received an Equity and Inclusion Innovation Award, given to programs across campus for policies, procedures and structures that further equity and inclusion efforts across campus. SAIL was among four programs to receive this year’s award.

SAIL celebrates its 10th year of providing low-income high school students with enrichment programs in a summer-camp setting on the UO campus, helping them to envision a future that includes higher education. The program was developed by economics faculty members Bruce Blonigen and William Harbaugh. SAIL Director Lara Fernandez will be on hand to accept the Equity and Inclusion Innovation Award at the event.

Read the full article and list of recipients in Around the O.


December 29, 2014

UO makes top-25 list of economics graduate programs

The University of Oregon’s M.S. program in economics has been ranked 23rd in the country by The Financial Engineer, a popular blog of all things Wall Street.

The blog ranked the 157 U.S. schools offering graduate programs in economics. The schools were ranked based on the following methodology:

  • 30% mean GMAT scores
  • 25% mean starting salary and bonus
  • 15% mean undergraduate GPA
  • 15% acceptance rate
  • 10% full time graduates employed at graduation
  • 5% full time graduates employed three months after graduation

Read the full listing.

December 2, 2014

Fall 2014 Economics Newsletter is here!

The Fall 2014 Economics Newsletter features a round-up of the latest news about the UO Department of Economics! Learn more about the people, places, and accomplishments from our department over the past year, including study abroad opportunities, scholarships, awards, and much more.

Click here to read the electronic version, and for links to additional photos and content only available online.




October 31, 2014

Piger receives UO Fund for Faculty Excellence Award

pigerUO Economics Professor Jeremy Piger has been named a recipient of the UO’s Fund for Faculty Excellence Award for 2014-15.

A total of thirteen faculty members across campus were selected to receive the Fund for Faculty Excellence awards for 2014-15. Awards are given based on a nominee’s standing and impact on his or her field of study, contributions to his or her program, and demonstrated academic leadership.

Economics Department Head Van Kolpin says, “I was thrilled to see that Jeremy received this well-deserved recognition. His contributions to the UO have been extraordinary in all dimensions, including his path-breaking research in business cycle characterization and regime switching models, his first-rate instruction in everything from introductory macroeconomics to Bayesian econometrics seminars, and his superlative service as our director of Ph.D. studies.”

“I’m extremely honored to be one of the recipients of the Faculty Excellence Award,” Piger says. “It is wonderful to have my contributions recognized by the University of Oregon community.”

The Fund was established in 2006 through the generosity of Lorry I. Lokey to Campaign Oregon: Transforming Lives. Its purpose is to support, recognize, and retain world-class tenured faculty at the University of Oregon.

Piger has been a member of the UO Economics faculty since 2006, and was promoted in September to the rank of Full Professor.

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