Incorporating current events and news has always been a focus in Dr. Ishani Tewari's economics courses. In March, when COVID-19 brought economic activity to a near standstill, the Assistant Professor of Business Management knew she had a unique teaching opportunity.
"We are truly witnessing economic history in the making," says Dr. Tewari. "The dramatic changes in economic indicators and the policy responses the economic problems that the pandemic is causing make for classroom examples beyond which I could have created myself."
For her macroeconomics class, Dr. Tewari quickly launched Macoronamics. The new blog combines relevant news articles with contextual analysis to allow students to think critically about the pandemic's socio-economic consequences. The content serves as the foundation for weekly discussions and quizzes.
"The idea for the blog came to me as I was trying to devise new ways to stay engaged with students while remote," she says. "Instead of just giving run-of-the-mill quizzes online, I asked students to read the blog posts and visit whenever they wanted to learn more about what is going on in the economy. For many, it encouraged a new habit of staying informed and critically consuming high-quality news information. The chaos and loss caused by COVID-19 are devastating, but by better understanding certain economic aspects of it, I hope students feel a tiny bit more reassured and less anxious."
Dr. Tewari's work started in research with a focus on development economics, studying the various issues related to growth in developing or emerging markets, including economies in South Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. Though an accomplished research scholar who has published and presented at prestigious conferences including the MIT/Yale China India Insights Conference last year, and was this year honored by the College with the Excellence in Research Award, Dr. Tewari finds great meaning and professional fulfillment in teaching and says Curry's small campus community is critical for connecting with students.
"Unlike an ECON 101 class at a large university, I don't just walk into a class of 200, throw up a PowerPoint lecture and walk out," she says. "I remember the name of every student I have taught and at least one other thing about them-- a conversation we had, a frustration they expressed, a particularly good grade they got, or a memorable comment they made in class. This dynamic improves the educational experience for both the student and the professor."
Though she teaches both undergraduate and graduate courses - including Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, and Strategic Managerial Economics - Dr. Tewari doesn't anticipate students will walk out of her class and step into a career as an economist. Instead, she takes pride in teaching the critical learning habits and skills that are invaluable to success at the College: consistent class attendance, smart note-taking, framing class questions, completing homework, studying effectively, and taking tests. "My classes are intro classes, and one of my goals is to create a solid foundation for all the subsequent classes students have to take in their major."
This summer, Dr. Tewari will be preparing new research for an upcoming academic conference, but continues to add new posts to Macoronamics and has plans to continue using the blog for future classes. She's excited to see interest among students grow for more economics courses and hopes to expand the College's offerings, which is often known as a difficult or demanding subject.
"Economics classes have a reputation for being 'hard,' and I embrace that because I want students to set the highest expectations for themselves and work towards fulfilling them. I challenge them but am always available to help them along the way."