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Faculty Spotlight

Steven Craig, Economics

Monica Ercolani

The winner of the Ross M. Lence Award in Social Sciences is Dr. Steven Craig in the Department of Economics. Professor Craig specializes in micro, urban and public economics, and has an extremely impressive publication/research record. But teaching is why he became a professor, he loves, as he puts it, “turning on the lights.”

Professor Craig insists, however, that he does not teach students answers, but, rather, he provides them with “answering methodologies.” That’s why when a student asks him a question, he often responds, “It depends.” Students come to realize that his classes require them to ask questions and think critically. As Professor Craig explains, professors don’t really teach students – “in the end the students must teach themselves.”

He sees his role as providing the broad perspectives that link economic theory to the real world, to help students to want to learn how to use economics to answer their questions. For example, in the Fall 2009, Craig taught a brand-new undergraduate course on the causes of the 2008 economic downturn. At that point, Craig admits he himself did not really understand what had happened, but he knew it couldn’t just be the result of a bunch of New York investment bankers gone wild. So he took his students “on a journey of discovery to find and understand the causes, not teaching them a set answer, but showing them how to use the tools of economics to think through events, disentangle factors leading to the credit collapse.”

Dr. Craig also excels in mentoring and advising students, undergraduate and graduate. His door is always open. Students praise his ability to coax them to define and achieve their goals. He helps them work through problems, whether they are struggling with an economic concept, encountering a research problem, or trying to sort out what to do after graduation. We are so fortunate to have such a dedicated colleague.

Congratulations, Dr. Steven Craig.

- Dr. Sarah Fishman, Associate Dean of Undergraduate Studies.