And the ECBeat goes on (page 2)
“The staples of ECB—Intermediate Micro and Macro—are really tough. I’d put them up against any other class I’ve taken here at Cornell,” said Curran.
“But in a positive way,” he added.
ECB students seem to share Curran’s attitude toward the challenge almost universally. Savitsky said Intermediate Microeconomics is a course most students claim to actively dislike, “but get the warm fuzzies about four or five years later.”
Senior Jamie Adams may already have those warm fuzzies. “All the professors hold you to a very high standard. They’ll push you as hard as they can, but,” she adds, “they’ll help you along the way.”
The foursome, for their part, recognize and, in a way, revel in their reputation.
“It’s not that we’re SOBs, but we’re demanding of our students. And we’re proud of that,” said Savitsky.
“The Berry Center has injected new energy and life into this department,” said Hejeebu. “It lets us bring people on and take students off campus in ways that weren’t possible before. It has made us more outward looking.”
If there’s one thing the department isn’t shy about, it’s its commitment to theory and logic over real-world examples inside the classroom. However, The Berry Center — shared with politics — has altered that equation since its inception in 2004.
“The essence of the Berry Center,” said Farooqi, “is that it’s an ambitious academic enrichment program.”
“The Berry Center enables students to see how economics works in the real world and how to do it in the real world,” said Knoop. “We’ve been able to bring in visiting scholars and lecturers, and experts just for class. The Berry Center has supported a reading group and enabled Santhi’s Newberry Library trip.”
The Newberry Library trip exemplifies what the Berry Center has been able to do for experiential learning in ECB. The class– Enterprise and Entrepreneurship in U.S. Economic History—took students to the famed Newberry Library in Chicago to study business documents firsthand. The students studied the Pullman Railroad company from the start of the 20th Century
“This is a really ambitious class. It’s original works in history, developing the quantitative skills to study any time or any industry,” said Hejeebu.
“To understand it you really need to go back in time. Pullman railroad cars kept two sets of books, one for their stockholders and one for government regulators. It allows you to see things that you can’t see today. These documents weren’t meant for our eyes,” said Hejeebu.
The students were not only at the library handling documents that were 100 years old, but they were visiting the old Pullman yards, exploring the history of the company throughout Chicago, and doing interesting, original research.
“There are all sorts of freedoms with a class like this,” said Hejeebu. “You’re in the driver’s seat. You’ve got the facts. It’s an example of our new emphasis in applied economics. Economy applied to the study of history.”
The best part? The cost for students to spend four days in Chicago: only $50–$75 per student, the rest funded by The Berry Center.
Opportunities like this, which were once few and far between, are now abundant for any student who wants them, especially for the student willing to look outside the classroom.
With connections “everywhere,” Berry Center Coordinator Monica Davis ’02 has found success helping both politics and ECB students find dream internships.
“Finding opportunities isn’t the hard part,” said Davis. “It’s identifying and preparing the student for the experience.”
Those experiences have taken ECB students all over the place. Sophomore Kevin Pickhard, for example, was a Cornell Fellow for the Houston Astros in the winter of 2008.
Adams, who ambitiously wants to own her own record company some day, gained valuable experience interning with Z102.9/ESPN 1600 radio in Cedar Rapids.
“The Berry Center was extremely helpful. They had the contacts and made sure I had funding and things like that,” said Adams. “The classes teach everything you can do academically. But the real world requires experience, or they won’t even look at you. It’s opened a lot of doors for me.”
Junior Ben Siebers spent his summer at the Cedar Rapids Bank and Trust Company, which he said was “like a financial accounting class.”
“I was able to take what I learned in class,” he said, “and put it into some of the projects I was doing for them.”
Senior Kirstin Willard traveled all the way to Montevideo, Uruguay, in the summer of 2006 to work for a brokerage house registered with the Uruguayan Stock Exchange, RenMax Sociedad de Bolsa. Not only did Willard have what she called “a life-changing experience,” but the internship opened up another doorway for the Berry Center. RenMax created another spot for a Cornell student in the summer of 2008.
These extraordinary opportunities, through the Berry Center and otherwise, make ECB stand out, not just on campus but across colleges and universities.
“It’s uncommon for a liberal arts college to have a substantial endowment to support academic enrichment in targeted disciplines,” said Farooqi. “It really is unusual and distinctive.”
Unusual and distinctive. Sounds right up their alley.