BFI’s Inaugural Summer Program Centered on “Expanding Diversity in Economics”

The Institute hopes to expose economics to students who would otherwise not enter the field.

By Basil Egli, Deputy News Editor

UChicago’s Becker Friedman Institute (BFI) will conduct its first-ever summer program, Expanding Diversity in Economics. The goal of the program, which will be held remotely, is to introduce economics to first- and second-year college students—especially women and people of color—who otherwise would not consider it as a career choice.

The BFI chose Quentin Johnson, former Senior Economics Outreach Specialist for the Federal Reserve Board, to lead the program.

Johnson said that his experience teaching for three years in Japan after college opened his eyes to the importance of higher education as a tool for uplifting individuals: “I came back from Japan totally changed by the experience, and I wanted to make sure that other young Black men like me knew about the types of opportunities like that which higher education could expose them to. So that sparked my interest in doing admissions work,” Johnson said.

Johnson hopes that students will reap the benefits of the program long after this summer, and was very excited about the potential of the Summer Institute: “My vision for it is to have a world-class experience for the student participants, to be able to have them to walk away feeling empowered, to have them feeling ‘tooled-up’ in terms of their technical ability and just their understanding of what economics can do for them and for society, and to pursue that after the summer is done—don’t let it just end with this summer experience.”

Between July 18 and August 6, 2021, 30–40 students will participate in the inaugural session over Zoom. The Summer Institute will involve many lectures––both as part of the curriculum and during Zoom luncheons––from prominent economists here at UChicago and from many other institutions. Participants also have the option to apply for an RA position at the University during the academic year. The Summer Institute’s admissions process closed on March 14, and admissions decisions were made public on April 16.