On March 31, more than 350 dignitaries, board members, Scientific Council members, affiliated professors, alumni, and students gathered at Ciutadella Campus (UPF) to celebrate the Barcelona GSE's 10th Anniversary.
The full-day program featured a roundtable with BGSE Scientific Council members Richard Blundell (University College London), Matthew Jackson (Stanford University), Anne Krueger (The John Hopkins University), Alvin Roth (Stanford University, Nobel Laureate) and Christopher Sims (Princeton University, Nobel Laureate), as well as a tribute and conversation with Scientific Council members Oliver Hart (Harvard University) and Bengt Holmström (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Nobel Laureates 2016.
Council members also led three research workshops as part of the 10th Anniversary celebration: Orley Ashenfelter (Princeton University) chaired the applied economics workshop, Ariel Rubinstein (Tel Aviv University) chaired the microeconomics session and Nancy Stokey (University of Chicago) chaired the workshop on macroeconomics.
A total of 21 out of 32 current members of the Scientific Council were in Barcelona to celebrate the BGSE's 10th Anniversary. After the public celebrations, the Council members convened at Bellaterra Campus (UAB) for their periodic meeting, held every two or three years, to discuss the BGSE's progress and provide strategic direction.
Members of the Scientific Council, the Board of Trustees, and BGSE Affiliated Professors at Bellaterra
Ten years of masters at the Barcelona GSE
The 2016-17 academic year marks the 10th edition of the BGSE master programs. The first ten cohorts include 1,916 matriculated students from 94 countries.
Many of the teaching faculty of the masters are Barcelona GSE Affiliated Professors, who are tenured or tenure-track faculty members at one of the BGSE's four academic units: the Unit of Economic Analysis at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB); the Department of Economics and Business at Universitat Pompeu Fabra (UPF); the Center for Research in International Economics (CREI); and the Institute for Economic Analysis (IAE-CSIC). There are currently over 150 Affiliated Professors teaching and conducting research in the BGSE community; many took part in the 10th Anniversary activities this weekend.
In addition to students and professors, more than 200 BGSE alumni participated in the 2017 Alumni Meeting, which brought the 10th Anniversary activities to a close on Saturday.
The Practical Influence of Economic Research
During the roundtable, each panelist examined an area of economics that has left a lasting impact on the world stage. Professor Blundell looked at the use of empirical evidence in microeconomics, taking as an example the 2010 report on tax design he co-authored with fellow Scientific Council member James Mirrlees. Professor Jackson examined the different approaches taken by eminent economists throughout the years, from the days of John Neville Keynes, to Paul Samuelson, Ariel Rubinstein, Alvin Roth and Esther Duflo.
Anne Krueger answers a question from the audience after the roundtable
Professor Krueger, who specializes in international trade, finance and development, explained how economic research and the use of blueprints can have a huge influence on policy, citing the eventual reversal of the Indian government's small scale reservation law of 1977, the removal of restrictions on imports in the United States in the 1980s, and the relaxation of Mexico's nationalization policy of the same decade as examples.
Professor Roth used kidney exchange to illustrate how matching and market design works in practice, explaining how game theorists can have helped to increase the number of viable matches in live donor kidneys. Finally, Professor Sims examined the practical impact of monetary economics, comparing the sector to the use of seismology in predicting earthquakes: it can help us to understand conditions and predict areas subject to change, but it can’t tell us with absolute certainty where or when an earthquake will happen.
Ramon Marimon introduces 2016 Nobel Laureates Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström
The conversation with last year's Nobel Laureates echoed some of the themes covered by the roundtable panelists. Barcelona GSE Chairman Ramon Marimon noted that economists face a challenge in explaining their research to a wider audience. "We have to try to overcome the O O Problem. Either we are too obscure, or we are too obvious."
Elements of success
The day's agenda included a press conference with BGSE leadership including Joaquin Almunia, honorary president of the BGSE; Teresa Garcia-Mila, Director of the BGSE, Ramon Marimon, Chairman of the BGSE Board of Trustees; and Andreu Mas-Colell, founder of the BGSE. Nobel Laureates and members of the BGSE Scientific Council Oliver Hart and Bengt Holmström also participated.
During the press conference, Mr. Almunia described what he thought were the three elements of the Barcelona GSE's success: excellence of faculty, whom he described as being outstanding economists and academics, the cooperation of the directors and academics, and the openness of the BGSE to embrace working with both private and public sector experts of all nationalities.
Professor Hart noted that Barcelona is one of Europe's most thriving centers of economics thanks to the Barcelona GSE: he said he had been very happy to be part of the BGSE since its inception and had no doubt that the best was yet to come. Professor Holmström noted that the Barcelona GSE model was so successful, it was being emulated by institutions in his native Finland.
Professor Mas-Colell ended the conference by thanking all the Scientific Council members for having faith in what was then an unknown entity, acknowledging that they had signed up ‘blindly’ and that their support had been essential in the BGSE's success.
Professor Garcia-Mila, director of the Barcelona GSE, said of the celebrations: “We couldn’t be more delighted with the tenth anniversary. The success of the day was evidence of the huge amount of incredibly hard work that’s gone into the school from day one, and I am very proud to be at the helm on such a momentous occasion.
“I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to our success – the Scientific Council, the Board of Trustees, our stakeholders and supporters, the faculty, all our staff and, of course, our students and alumni. It is because of all of them that we have been able to reach this important milestone.
“We have a truly international community here at the Barcelona GSE, and we are incredibly proud that so many people travelled thousands of miles to help us celebrate our tenth anniversary. We are very excited to see what the future holds and continue to develop our role in economics research and education in Europe and across the world.”
Videos and photos from all 10th Anniversary events, including the full roundtable, will be available soon on the 10th Anniversary page.
Members of the Barcelona GSE Scientific Council participating in the 10th Anniversary events
Hugo Sonnenschein (University of Chicago), honorary president of the Scientific Council
Orley Ashenfelter (Princeton University)
Chong-En Bai (School of Economics and Management, Tsinghua University)
Richard Blundell (University College London)
Raquel Fernández (New York University)
Oliver Hart (Harvard University), Nobel Laureate 2016
Bengt Holmström (MIT), Nobel Laureate 2016
Matthew Jackson (Stanford University)
Tim Kehoe (University of Minnesota)
Anne Krueger (The Johns Hopkins University)
Charles Manski (Northwestern University)
James Mirrlees (University of Cambridge), Nobel Laureate 1996
Juan Pablo Nicolini (US Federal Reserve Bank of Minnesota)
Aloisio Pessoa de Araujo (IMPA and Fundação Getulio Vargas, Rio de Janeiro)
Edward Prescott (Arizona State University), Nobel Laureate 2004
John Roberts (Stanford University)
Alvin Roth (Stanford University), Nobel Laureate 2012
Ariel Rubinstein (Tel Aviv University)
Christopher Sims (Princeton University), Nobel Laureate 2011
Nancy Stokey (University of Chicago)
Fabrizio Zilibotti (Universität Zürich)
A selection of press coverage:
- Ara (in Catalan)
- Catalunya Ràdio: Interview with James Mirrlees (in Catalan)
- La Vanguardia (in Catalan or translation in English)
- La Vanguardia: "La contra" interview with Alvin Roth (in Spanish or translation in English)