Steven Medema explains history of economics

The Outstanding Faculty Achievement Award was presented to CU Denver Economics professor Steven Medema, PhD, earlier this year, and today he gave a lecture focused on the history of economics. In the audience were several faculty and staff as well as many students.

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) Dean Dan Howard began the introduction of Medema, and then Economics Chairman Buhong Zheng took the podium.

“We give this award to a longtime faculty member who has an outstanding record of teaching, research and service,” said Howard. “It’s the highest award – much like a lifetime achievement award – for CLAS.”

Zheng said of Medema, “We have been colleagues for 17 years; it’s hard to believe it has been that long.” Zheng added, “Steve has mentored so many students and many have gone on to top law schools across the globe. He also has a very strong reputation worldwide — which is very impressive.”

Zheng concluded, “Steve is an exceptional colleague, teacher and citizen.”

Medema began his lecture with the history of economics starting in the age of Plato and Aristotle continuing to the late 1700s. “Basically for 2,000 years you have the same thinking: self-interest leads to state regulations,” surmised Medema.

He continued his remarks by discussing the change of thinking in economics to one of “less governmental control” and then back again.

“One impact that (change of thinking) has today on economics is the time horizon has shrunk – everyone wants everything now. A 24-year-old wants the big house with granite countertops because that’s what their parents had. But those parents worked for 40 years to get those countertops,” Medema said.

One of the biggest issues he pointed out was that economists work with friction-less models, Medema said. “The real world is highly imperfect and hard to predict. Our models don’t account for that.”

Medema concluded, “I am really honored to be given this opportunity. Thank you.”

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