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Along with the rest of our local and global communities, Economics at UNC has faced significant challenges associated with the spread of COVID-19. We have done our best to meet those challenges head on, focusing specifically on prioritizing the safety of our students, faculty, and staff without compromising our commitment to education. We have successfully taken 100% of our Spring courses online and, although this transition was made quickly and under stressful circumstances, feedback from both faculty and students indicates that things are going well.

Faculty and staff have also made efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy for incoming students—our Graduate Welcome Day was transitioned to a virtual format, and proceeded as scheduled; summer course registration is underway, with additional courses added to meet increased demand; the EconAid Center continues to provide free online tutoring to undergraduate students; and our staff continue to be available from 8 am to 5 pm daily to support faculty and students and to keep important initiatives moving forward.

In addition to the necessary crash course in online/remote instruction, our faculty have taken on many new endeavors during this time. Here are some of the amazing ways they continue to serve our students and communities throughout the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Kalina Staub is preparing a new elective course for Summer Session I called  “The Economic Effects of a Global Pandemic” (ECON 490). According to Dr. Staub, students will use microeconomic theory (ECON 410) and Econometrics (ECON 400) skills to conduct research on the economic impacts of past epidemics to explore the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on individuals and the local and global economies. This course offers students the opportunity to analyze the pandemic’s economic implications and to explore and develop their own policy recommendations for COVID-19.
  • Klara Peter is offering the opportunity to participate in a mentored summer research project on socio-economic factors determining the spread of infection in the US and Europe. She has county-level data in the US and regional-level data for Europe. (If you are an undergraduate interested in this opportunity, and would like more information on this initiative, please contact Dr. Peter or Dr. Gilleskie.)
  • Jon Williams and co-authors are working with broadband providers to figure out how to accommodate the changing internet traffic flows due to widespread public health restrictions.
  • Eric Ghysels and his collaborators are developing models for real-time forecasts of state and local budgets. Using a sample of the 48 contiguous United States, they consider the problem of forecasting state and local governments’ revenues and expenditures in real time using models that feature mixed-frequency data.Their analyses will cover scenarios of economic downturns (such as with COVID-19) and their impact on state budgets for 2020.
  • Anusha Chari is working alongside peers from Harvard, Yale, and Elon on a project analyzing the stock market’s reaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the spring semester winds down, Economics will move forward, full speed ahead. We’ll continue to support our students in attaining their academic goals during a difficult time and to serve our community by delivering operational excellence and relevant, high quality research.

 

Stay safe, everyone!

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