One area at the helm of the ever-rapid expansion of technology is the study of economic institutions and how they operate. Corinne Burla (M.S. ’17) and Nathanael Berger (M.S. ’17) became interested in studying this field, known as Behavioral and Computational Economics, while enrolled in economics undergraduate programs in Switzerland.
One of the draws to Chapman’s Economic Science Institute (ESI) M.S. in Behavioral and Computational Economics (MSBCE) is that it takes a unique, hands-on approach, as an alternative to a more traditional theory-based degree. This degree prepares graduates to design, develop, test, and implement efficient exchange systems. Learn more about this program and our application process.
Graduates go on to work in stock trading, online auctions, scheduling, insurance and public utilities. But the variety of professional fields and employers doesn’t stop there.
“Data is used everywhere and for everything nowadays,” Burla said. “Working in this field is very appealing to me since it allows you to work in any kind of company.”
Burla works for Lonza, a Switzerland-based leading supplier to the life-science industry, as a global master data professional. She designs, sets up, and maintains master data management and data structure processes to ensure data integrity and data quality.
She finds it exciting to work with colleagues located across the globe as they decide together how to make processes, such as data cleansing and mass data changes, most efficient.
Burla said that the risk involved with her work can be thrilling, and a welcomed challenge at other times.
“The impact of any mistake can be enormous,” she said. But, she pointed out, the impact helps motivate her to do what she can to keep her work free of errors, which in turn helps fuel her passion.
Being a female in a male-dominated industry, she noted: “I think circumstances like these should not have any influence on one’s decision regarding what to study or what kind of job to look for.”
Both Burla and Berger enjoyed the small class sizes in the MSBCE program.
“(Our cohort) was a very small and diverse group who spent a lot of time together,” Berger said. “(Current students in the program should) enjoy the small size of the program and build relationships with classmates and the great and very supportive faculty at ESI.”
Berger notes that the highlight of his Chapman Experience was conducting his own economic experiment at the ESI lab for his master thesis. His thesis focused on his true passion — game theory and behavioral economics.
“Game theory provides us with theoretic models and predictions on how humans should behave in certain strategic situations,” Berger explained. “Many everyday situations — e.g., who washes the dishes today? — can be reduced and modeled as simple game-theoretic scenarios.”
This experience helped Berger land a position as a field economist at MobLab, a Pasadena-based education technology startup that strives to bring interactive games and experiments to economic and business lectures at universities worldwide.
As a field economist, Berger supports instructors with integrating interactive games and experiments into their curriculum. He often joins their lectures and conducts demo sessions with their students, and hopes to become a professor in the future.
Berger and Burla see their MSBCE degree as a timeless asset that will retain its value and keep up with technological advances and nonstop industry growth.
“Instructors are sometimes skeptic when they first consider the integration of a new interactive technology into their lectures,” said Berger of his work with MobLab. “Yet, seeing students apprehending economic principles in an intuitive way by letting them interact with their classmates is very rewarding for the instructor and for myself. Classroom experiments are definitely the modern way of teaching economics and business.”
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