Message from Executive Director
Inspiration for the Next Generation
Fifteen years ago, the Program for Economic Research (PER) began its journey towards advancing faculty research projects and facilitating connections between researchers at Columbia and policy makers, business leaders, alumni and the broader community. Today, PER stands at the center of a Department strategy to maintain Columbia’s position as one of the world’s top research programs.
Each year we host over thirty public events, which serve to expose members of the Columbia community to new ideas and project our ideas into global debates. Over the last three years, we have significantly broadened our commitment to exposing our graduate students to frontier research areas and methodologies, with the introduction of Distinguished Lectures and Mini-courses, which introduce cutting-edge research. The activities of PER are essential to maintaining a productive and positive intellectual environment for Columbia economists. As participants in these collaborations, our faculty and students are both the providers of new ideas and the beneficiaries.
PER invests approximately 100K per year to support graduate student research in order to develop the next generation of the world’s most accomplished and promising young minds. As part of this commitment, we have rolled out several programs. This year, PER will fund 17 summer research assistants, and we plan to provide similar support next year. Funding is also available for students to purchase data and process them for their dissertations. Graduate student support for research travel, editing services, and leadership workshops are also available through PER.
There is already a great foundation for progress. With the help of the Economic Advisory Council (EAC), we are expanding programs housed in PER. EAC members help us achieve research excellence in a diversity of ways. They help us improve our depth of knowledge and quality of research, strengthen the Department’s competitiveness, and help train the next generation of top scholars through teaching, and coordination of other researcher’s work.
Columbia already has one of the best track records in placing our Ph.D. students with many of them obtaining top jobs in academic, policy, and business worlds. This year, alone, we had amazingly strong placement, with three of our students obtaining professorships at the Booth School of Business (Chicago), Johns Hopkins SAIS. As well, resources are enhanced for many faculty and students to conduct research into specific global economic challenges. For example, Eric Verhoogen’s project on mark-ups in the Colombian coffee sector. A Ph.D. candidate’s study of urban segregation through the use of geolocation data available on social media. And then there’s Professor Réka Juhász’s research on growth and trade in a world of cities.
I mention these examples because they are emblematic of the innovative spirit of PER. They are also important sources of inspiration for the next generation of workforce and leaders. In the Columbia tradition, these wonderful programs and partnerships will go a long way.
The continued success of PER, then, will depend on how well both faculty and students, and our community partners continue to work together. As such, PER is committed to finding new ways of working together – to ensure our continued flourishing in the decades to come.
David E. Weinstein
Carl S. Shoup Professor of the Japanese Economy, Columbia University
Executive Director, Program for Economic Research