The Bryant Economic Undergraduate Symposium is a proud tradition. Now in its 13th year, the event gives the University’s Economics students an opportunity to share their work with one another and the wider campus community. Though this year’s symposium was conducted via Zoom instead of in-person because of the Covid-19-inspired switch to online learning, it still contained all of the energy, brilliance, and innovation the gathering is known for.
In a time when many are feeling disconnected, says Professor of Economics Ramesh Mohan, Ph.D., who has organized the Symposium for the last 13 years, this year’s event was especially important. “This symposium gave us all, faculty and students, an opportunity to come together,” he notes.
“The digital format didn’t limit the experience by any means,” says Sydney Levine ’20, who presented her capstone project analyzing the economic impact of the American opioid crisis. “The same amount of interest and attention was there.”
Economics is everything
When Levine first toured Bryant as a high school student, she remembers talking to Professor Mohan about choosing her own path. “He told me that economics is in everything,” she remembers, “and you can use it anywhere.” Over her four years at Bryant, she learned how true that was.
Economics, Levine explains, plays an important role across nearly every field of endeavor and economics analysis tools can shed light on a wide variety of areas. As proof, she points to the range of projects presented at the symposium, where the students shared research on subjects ranging from inequality and economic growth in Latin America to predicting long term success in the NBA.
“When we push our students and give them the right channel, the right opportunity, and the right guidance, they can do wonders,”
"Seeing what my classmates have done, it really stands out that there’s so many different way you can go about this, and you can see how everyone found their own little niche and found their own way," says Levine. “With an economics degree, you can go anywhere and do anything.”
Levine, an Economics major concentrating in Biology, chose to combine her passion for both subjects for her capstone. She aspires to work in healthcare or a public health setting, and notes that the skills and experience she gained from her project will help her one day improve people’s lives.
Matthew Antonino ’20 presented two projects at the symposium; his honors capstone on infant mortality rates in first-world countries and an analysis of the recent Covid-19 stimulus bill conducted as part of his Case Studies in Macroeconomics class. The work that the students presented, he says, shows they’re ready to make an impact.
“Bryant’s goal isn’t for us to just be behind a desk crunching numbers. It’s about being able to make a difference in the world going forward.” Antonino states. His studies in Economics education have primed him do just that. “Economics is a social science,” he says “It’s about understanding implications and applications - and how we can make changes to adapt better in the future.”
“It’s not just a chance to display all of our hard work for the community. It’s a chance to get people thinking about their next projects.”
Having the chance to delve into new territory and explore new ideas through their projects is an important opportunity for students, says Antonino. “It feels special. You’re working at the forefront of a topic, on something that doesn’t have a lot of previous research,” he states. “You feel like you’re making an impact.”
“When we push our students and give them the right channel, the right opportunity, and the right guidance, they can do wonders,” notes Mohan.
The symposium is not only an opportunity to share important work with a wider audience, suggests Mohan. It provides students with important experience presenting information. “One of the main ideas of the symposium is to give students the confidence to say, ‘this is my research, and I'm confident in sharing it with you,’” he says. “As an economist, you can do a very complex analysis. But when you present that analysis to your CEO in the business world, you need to give them the results and policy implication for the business or the economy.”
“All of the economics professors I’ve had were there. And they were all were applauding our work.”
“The symposium is practice for the board meetings in our futures,” agrees Antonino.
It also offered both the professors and students the opportunity to learn from one another. “You can work with each other and bounce ideas off each other at the Symposium,” Antonino says. “It’s not just a chance to display all of our hard work for the community. It’s a chance to get people thinking about their next projects.”
For the seniors who presented at the symposium, it, in many ways, marked the culmination of their Bryant education and was a chance to celebrate their time at the University. “All of the economics professors I’ve had were there,” notes Levine. “And they were all were applauding our work.”
“I remember watching the seniors present last year and thinking that I can’t wait to give my own presentation,” reflects Antonino. “Actually giving those presentations, though, more than lived up to expectations. It absolutely exceeded them.”