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Creating Connections Between Economics and Everyday Choices

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With record-breaking enrollment from students from across the U.S. and worldwide, this summer has been full of excitement and learning for TFAS high school programming division, the Foundation for Teaching Economics (FTE).

Nearly 900 students have the opportunity to examine the “economic way of thinking” through engaging lectures and interactive simulations in both in-person and online programs. Programming began Monday, June 14, and will run until Friday, August 6, focusing on three primary student programs – Economics for Leaders (EFL),Economic Forces in American History (EFIAH) and Entrepreneurship in the Global Economy (EGE).

Interactive Online Learning

An inside look at one of the EFL virtual classrooms.

One of the programs offered this summer is Economics for Leaders (EFL), which teaches student leaders how to integrate economics into the decision-making process and provides the foundational skills of effective leadership. Students have consistently ranked our core program, EFL, as ‘top-notch,’ ‘wonderful’ and ‘life-changing’ and this summer is no exception.

“I came here not knowing what to expect through a virtual week-long program, but the staff and professors seriously gave me no regrets in the program,” said student Benjamin Yan. “They brought the energy every day and welcomed everyone with open arms. I got to meet so many cool people from all around the country, and the week flew by.”

They brought the energy every day and welcomed everyone with open arms. I got to meet so many cool people from all around the country, and the week flew by.” – Benjamin Yan, 2021 EFL Participant

With the use of interactive games and lectures, participants develop leadership skills and gain a better understanding of the world and how to utilize their knowledge of economics in everyday decision-making. Among the many exceptional professors that provide engaging instruction is Professor Ninos Malek, who has taught eight sessions this summer.

“It was a pleasure to work with such a motivated and outstanding group of students from all over the United States and other countries,” Professor Malek stated. “Understanding economics principles and the economic way of thinking is vital for intelligent and effective public policy, and the FTE summer programs provide lectures and activities to teach concepts in an effective and practical manner.”

Reconnecting in Person

Though most programs are virtual, one cohort of EFL students was able to meet in person at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. These students experienced a typical program – attending economics courses in the morning hours while participating in leadership development activities and simulations each afternoon.

Students participating in a leadership team bonding activity at Southern Methodist University.

Students were eager to return to in-person learning and were grateful for the opportunity to meet new people and make long lasting connections.

“This program exposed me to ambitious students from all across the country,” one student remarked. “I was so happy to engage in interesting conversations with them.”

From July 5-9, these students explored the economic way of thinking from FTE Student Administrator Dee Goines and Professor John Kessler, who taught the students about the importance of institutions, the role of prices, international trade, why clearly defined property rights matter and basic macroeconomics principles.

Along with the engaging lectures from FTE staff, students also participated in several leadership sessions that required teamwork to accomplish goals. These activities allowed for students to gain a deeper understanding about themselves and how to better interact with their peers within a team setting.

Positive Feedback to Online Programming

Following the conclusion of their programs, students completed an in-depth program evaluation highlighting the impact of FTE’s summer programs. Despite the barriers of this summer’s programs being mostly virtual, students reported that they immensely enjoyed the online program, and some even wished the program was longer so they could further their economic knowledge.

Understanding economics principles and the economic way of thinking is vital for intelligent and effective public policy, and the FTE summer programs provide lectures and activities to teach concepts in an effective and practical manner.” – Professor Ninos Malek

“Though still being virtual, the program EFL allowed me to get a better sense of who a leader is, and how I can emulate the characteristics of a leader better,” one student shared. “Additionally, the lessons of economics were taught through amazing ways, with amazing educators.”

Students not only gained vast amounts of economic knowledge but furthered their leadership skills and built connections with other students and staff throughout their programs.

Another student shared in their evaluation, “I never truly saw the connection from economics to my everyday life, and this program most definitely helped me connect those dots,” they wrote. “I also learned so much personally, as I think I have a better idea of where I am and where I want to be as a leader.”

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