What is economics? What do economists do? And what's the connection between economics and math? On June 4, the New York Fed held Math x Economics, a program to encourage high school students from backgrounds underrepresented in the field of economics to think about these questions and consider studying economics in college and pursuing careers in economic policy and research.
Math x Economics started as a pilot program at the New York Fed in 2010 with 25 participants and has reached more students in the Second District each year, as well as expanded to other regional Federal Reserve Banks. This year, the New York Fed partnered with The Bronx Institute at Lehman College to increase participation of students from the Bronx by holding the program at Lehman College. Students with an interest in mathematics were recruited from several local area Bronx high schools, with many coming from The Bronx Institute’s ENLACE (Engaging Latino Communities for Education), an academic program that seeks to provide high-achieving Latino students with math and science enrichment experiences.
Throughout the day, high school juniors and seniors learned how their math skills could be applied to economics by taking part in interactive workshops and panel discussions with New York Fed Research staff. They heard about what economists do and what it takes to become one. Linda Goldberg, a vice president and financial economist, opened the program by sharing her own path to studying economics; a Bronx native herself, she received her bachelor’s in math and economics from Queens College, CUNY and went on to earn a Ph.D. in economics from Princeton University. Rodney Garratt, a vice president and financial economist, talked about his background in game theory and his current work in payments policy, including better understanding virtual currencies like bitcoin. Meta Brown, a senior economist, talked about her research on household debt and credit, with a focus on student loan data.
In addition, students received advice on how to be proactive in their career exploration, build relationships with professors in college, and seek out research opportunities and internships that could help them become more competitive in the field. Students also had a rare opportunity to talk with presenters about their experiences during lunch.
By the end of the day, many students expressed an interest in taking coursework in economics when they get to college. Math x Economics was designed to increase the diversity in the field of economic policy and research. The hope is that the program will lead to a broader interest in economics and ultimately a wider range of bright minds entering the field.
“Math x Economics advances the New York Fed’s goals related to diversity and inclusion,” Adrian Franco, the director of Economic Education, said. “The program encourages students from low- and moderate-income communities to learn about economics and consider a career in the field; it strengthens relationships with Title I high schools and educational institutions like the City University of New York; and this year in particular, it allowed New York Fed staff to visit the Bronx and interact with students at Lehman College.”