Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Economics

2021-2022 Year-End Report Summary

To follow through with our Statement of Solidarity issued in June 2020, the Economics Department created three working groups during the 2020-2021 academic year—classroom climate, curriculum, and resources for advancement—committed to the following endeavors: 1) understanding the classroom experience of students who have felt marginalized within Economics, 2) exploring the Economics curriculum to ensure that a diverse group of students can identify with Economics, and 3) expanding resources for students to succeed both academically and professionally in Economics at Oxy and beyond. 

During the 2021-2022 academic year, the working groups made concerted efforts to move the department closer to achieving a more equitable, diverse, and inclusive major. Below, we highlight the actions taken by each working group.  

  • The Classroom Climate working group hosted a roundtable discussion for economics majors, economics minors, and students currently enrolled in an economics class in Fall 2021. The roundtable was attended by about 30 students and six faculty members, and was hosted by Chris Arguedas, former director of Oxy’s Intercultural Community Center. The discussion highlighted and reinforced the feedback that we received from our student survey conducted in the 2020-21AY. Several female and nonwhite students stated that they felt uncomfortable speaking up when they weren’t sure of an answer. Students noted that it was helpful when faculty explicitly acknowledged gender and racial dynamics in the classroom, and when faculty took steps to reduce pressure to get questions right in class.
  • The Curriculum working group administered the department’s textbook support program which offers free introductory economics texts to students enrolled in Economics 101 and 102 who demonstrate highest financial need. The working group also created a set of resources for Economics 101 and 102 instructors to utilize in their coverage of discrimination (Econ 101) and economic inequality (Econ 102). The materials include suggested topics to cover, readings, videos, and exercises. Finally, the working group assembled a database of examples, applications, and exercises dealing with diversity, equity, and inclusion that have been used by faculty teaching intermediate and upper-division courses. All resources were circulated to economics instructors.  
  • The Resources for Advancement in Economics working group had several accomplishments this year. Working with the Asian Pacific Islander Desi American Association (APIDAA), Women of Economics (WOE), and the Economics Student Association (ESA) they organized a panel of Asian alumni in decision making positions, which also included a dinner with the alumni and students who helped to organize the event. The event, which was the second in our Visible Hands Initiative, was well attended with over 30 students and faculty members. The working group also incorporated student involvement this year to help with events. In addition, with the goal of redefining what it means to be an economics major and to demonstrate the diversity of our students and faculty within the program, the group created an Instagram account (@oxyecon). The account has over 170 followers. The group also organized a First-Gen Student Resources Workshop for first-year students and sophomores interested in economics. The workshop highlighted important resources for academic and career planning. Finally, the group organized a program to create more cohesion and to provide more tools for students participating in Oxy’s Undergraduate Research Center’s Summer Research Program (SRP).
  • The department chair reached out to other departments on campus to share resources and experiences incorporating diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice work into the major and curriculum. 
  • The Economics Department continued it efforts to bring a diverse range of speakers to campus with the support of the Remsen Bird fund. Homa Zarghamee, associate professor of economics at Barnard College, gave a talk on the gender gap in competitiveness. In a separate event, Alice Volz, an economist at the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve, spoke about gender gaps in financial well-being and wealth.
  • Professors Jason Wong (Econ) and Seva Rodnyansky (UEP) collaborated to create the Econ-UEP Student Research Colloquium, which is a bi-weekly colloquium showcasing interdisciplinary research by Oxy student-scholars investigating environmental, urban, and economic policy questions.

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