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Sahan Tharanga Dissanayake
Major in Economics
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How can markets be used to promote sustainable development? What is the impact of China’s new cooperative medical system? Do male and female professors differ with respect to salaries and research productivity? What effect did media coverage have on charitable giving after the 2004 tsunami? Has there been more social mobility in Britain or in the United States—and why does it matter? What are the lessons from NAFTA for Latin America and the Caribbean? To what extent do changes in housing wealth affect consumption? These are just some of the interesting questions addressed by Colby’s economics faculty in recent publications. As an economics student at Colby, you will have ample opportunity to assist professors with their work and to conduct independent research of your own via honors theses.
In the Colby Economics Department we prepare you to answer some of the most important policy questions by building a solid theoretical foundation. This foundation is laid out in our two-semester introductory sequence and the two intermediate theory classes. Courses such as Public Finance, Presidential Economics, Industrial Organization, Economic Development, or the Evolution of the Global Economy broaden the scope of economic analysis. Students are encouraged to strengthen their technical skills with classes in econometrics and mathematical economics. Skills are further honed in the demanding senior seminars, the major’s capstone experience.
All these skills prove particularly useful in designing and executing independent research projects, honors theses, and senior scholar theses. Some of the topics students analyzed in 2008-09 include: “Examining Hospital Choice in Rural China: An Empirical Analysis,” “The Effect of Free Trade Agreements on Women’s Wages, Employment, and Labor Force Participation: The Case of NAFTA in Mexico,” “Stock Market Crashes in the S&P 500: Was the Downturn of 1973–74 Really a Crash?,” “Predicting Presidential Elections,” and “The Effect of Natural Disasters on Vulnerability: The Indonesian Forest Fires in 1997.”
Both faculty and students are involved in substantive work off Mayflower Hill. During the January Term students may explore internships in the business and policy arenas. Recent students held a host of internships from Merrill Lynch in New York to The Hoffman Agency in Hong Kong. Another Jan Plan alternative is to participate in one of the department’s newest courses, “Made in China,” which provides opportunities to visit factories, schools, and government agencies on-site in China. Many of our majors choose to study abroad during the junior year, at universities that include the prestigious London School of Economics. Colby’s Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement presents opportunities for internship and service learning from Waterville to Washington and beyond. Our faculty specialists on China, Brazil, Britain, and Spain present papers at conferences worldwide. Colby professors provide expert advice to the Federal Reserve, the Department of Justice, the International Labor Organization, and the World Bank—experiences that enliven and enrich our classrooms.
The Colby economics faculty has a national reputation for research and a commitment to excellence in undergraduate education. In a comparison of publication citations, we were recently ranked sixth in the nation among elite liberal arts institutions. The close contact between faculty and students is particularly apparent in the degree of involvement of students in faculty research. Each year the department hires about twelve students as research assistants to work with faculty. Several of these research projects have resulted in jointly authored publications. These opportunities, normally reserved for graduate students in larger schools, encourage scholarly development among our talented undergraduates.
Economics majors go on to exciting careers in business, government, law, and the nonprofit sector. The Economics Department’s reputation for rigorous training leads to good jobs in consulting, information management, manufacturing, and public service, as well as on Wall Street. For example, recent graduates are working in economics consulting firms (NERA, CRA International, and Accenture), in research associate positions (Congressional Budget Office and Brookings Institution), and as analysts and traders with several major firms (Citigroup, Barclays Capital, Cowen and Co.). A number of students are pursuing graduate school or plan to in the near future. And finally, one recent graduate conducted survey research in Mongolia, Mauritania, Mali, and Argentina, as a recipient of the prestigious Watson Fellowship. We are very excited about the accomplishments of recent majors and we look forward to working with new groups of economics students.