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A Dartmouth/Economics Story

If you are wondering why Econ is the most popular department on campus, enjoy this anecdote from Jonathan Pedde ‘14, one of the College’s two recent Rhodes Scholars:

As a junior in high school, Jonathan Pedde ‘14 was getting ready to tour several elite colleges and universities. Before leaving, he sent emails to dozens of economics professors whom he admired at these institutions, hoping to talk with them when he visited campus.

Only one, Dartmouth’s Douglas Irwin, the John Sloan Dickey Third Century Professor in the Social Sciences, offered to meet with Pedde.

“It was a Saturday afternoon and Professor Irwin came in to campus and took a half hour to sit down with me,” Pedde says. “I was absolutely blown away by that. I hadn’t even applied to Dartmouth yet, much less been admitted.”

Pedde was admitted, and his meeting with Irwin sealed the deal. “That conversation sold me,” he says. It was a decision that has paid off: This month he was named one of Dartmouth’s Rhodes Scholars.

Doug Irwin.jpgProfessor Doug Irwin is one of the College’s most-cited researchers, a prolific author, a hugely popular teacher who runs open-to-all discussion groups, a frequent commentator in the press, and a public servant who has served on the staff of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.

He’s also an all-around nice guy who has plenty of time, obviously, for students — despite his atypically severe demeanor in the photo to the right.

In fact, Doug is an illustration of this space’s long-held position that there is no conflict between research and teaching. Far more often than not, Dartmouth’s best teachers are our best researchers. A goodly number of professors in Economics fit this description, and the rise of the Economics department at the College is a model that Phil Hanlon would do well to study. Perhaps he could begin by visiting our largest department, something that he has not done for some reason during his first six months in Hanover.

Addendum: No need to look for Doug’s books on Google Scholar; it’s easier to see them on Amazon.

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