Through The Oxy Campaign For Good, we will grow the ranks of tenured economics faculty in order to deepen the department’s curriculum and expand its capacity for research. Just as important, new faculty members will provide mentorship and advising, which are essential components of the Oxy experience.
Advancing the Future of Economics
A multi-faceted approach with roots in cutting-edge research. A commitment to both disciplinary mastery and inclusion as well as interdisciplinary collaboration. Imbued with both urban perspectives and a global outlook. Taught by highly respected scholars who also are acclaimed teachers and trusted mentors.
This is economics at Occidental.
Economics at Occidental Today
The teaching of economics at Occidental truly reflects the college’s liberal arts environment. Beyond providing an education in core principles, the approach presents economics as a social science, with an emphasis on writing, critical thinking and team collaboration.
Oxy economics students are taught by a group of exceptionally talented faculty. Each tenure-track professor not only maintains an active research focus, but also is committed to students’ learning and academic growth—in fact, economics faculty have won every major teaching award Oxy offers.
In addition to popular subjects like labor economics, international trade and economics history, Oxy economics majors study a broad range of social and societal issues, from the economics of gender to health care, and from immigration to the environment. Students learn theoretical and empirical tools for their chosen field, as well as the problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills they will need to evaluate and provide answers to real-world problems.
Opportunities that Enhance the Classroom Curriculum
Outside of the classroom, Oxy economics students pursue independent and collaborative research projects with our faculty. These projects not only enrich students’ academic experience, but they also provide a bridge between their time at Oxy and their careers.
Occidental also offers dynamic on-campus opportunities for students to apply the insights and expertise they draw from their coursework, including Women in Economics, which advances professional and academic opportunities for women economics students; the Occidental Consulting Group, which provides pro-bono management consulting services to businesses and non-profit organizations, and the Blyth Fund, a student-managed investment portfolio that is part of the College’s endowment.
Path to Excellence
Economics has been part of the Occidental curriculum since the college’s founding, and for the past two decades has been Oxy’s most popular major. Alumni from this popular department have built careers in academia, government, retail management, and investment banking. Currently, nearly 8% of the college’s undergraduates are economics majors and more than 25% of all Oxy students take at least one economics course. Much of the department’s strength today is attributable to generations of outstanding faculty. But two professors in particular have been instrumental in elevating the department to its current stature: Robby Moore and Woody Studenmund. Both professors have served Occidental with distinction for more than 40 years.
Professor Moore retired from Oxy in 2019 and Professor Studenmund plans to retire in 2022, but their impact will be felt long after their departures from Oxy. Both had a strong commitment to building a “superstar” department—which includes prioritizing diversity. Fifty percent of the economics faculty are female and half are scholars of color, making the department a leader in faculty diversity at Oxy. The retirements of professors Studenmund and Moore will set the stage for a wave of new hires, each of whom will help shape the department for years to come.
Growing the Economics Faculty
The Economics Department is home to 11 exceptionally talented professors, five of whom are people of color and five are women. With the New York Times reporting in 2021 on gender bias in the field of economics, Oxy’s diverse economics department is impressive. The diversity is further reflected in the professors’ areas of expertise, which range from applied econometrics and international macroeconomics to environmental economics.
However, as the economics major has become more popular, the student-to-faculty ratio has grown to nearly 19:1 compared to the College average ratio of 9:1. Adding to the ranks of our full-time faculty will ensure the quality of mentorship and advising required for our students’ success during and after their studies at Occidental. Restoring a more favorable student-to-faculty ratio will also enable the department to offer a greater variety of research opportunities and deepen the curriculum for our students.
Donor support will also enable the department to provide students with greater access to technology that best prepares them for a rapidly changing job market. The ability to understand and navigate “big data,” for example, is among the most sought-after skills by potential employers in the fields our students will enter. Additional computers and software licenses would ensure more opportunities for students to build their expertise in that realm.