ORANGE, Calif., June 14, 2012  – Vernon L. Smith, Ph.D. — 2002 Nobel laureate in economics and Chapman University faculty member, considered the “father of experimental economics” — will take part in instructing high school students who gather from all over the nation at Chapman on June 25-29 for the Vernon L. Smith High School Workshop in Experimental Economics.   Presented by Chapman University’s Economic Science Institute – of which Dr. Smith is a founding member – and the International Foundation for Research in Experimental Economics (IFREE), the workshop is both a rigorous academic experience and an opportunity for high school students to meet other students with the same interest in economic experiments and behavioral economics.

 Participants in the workshop are high school rising juniors and seniors, chosen by a competitive selective process.  IFREE generously provides funds to pay for their flights, program and materials costs, housing in university residence halls and three meals a day, so the selected students attend free of charge.   There are two sessions at Chapman: June 25-29 and July 2-3 and 5-6 (due to his busy schedule, Dr. Smith will only teach during the first session).

 For high school students who might not have the opportunity to study economics in their schools, the objective of the workshop is to expose them to and get them interested in the foundations of economic analysis using experimental economics.   For the few students who may already have studied some economics, the goal is to cultivate their interest in economics and introduce them to economics as an observational science with new topics, problems and experiments.   The workshops do not assume any previous study of economics.

 Topics to be covered in the program include market equilibrium and efficiency, information aggregation in markets and speculative bubbles, specialization and exchange, international trade, strategic decision-making, social dilemmas, trust and reciprocity, altruism and fairness, public goods and government, Coasian bargaining, commons problems, innovation and market design.   Students learn how to apply the scientific method to economic behavior and work with their peers in building solutions to specific economic problems.  In addition, students actually have the opportunity to make money – real money is given to them, and they use it in their experiment decisions.  At the end, they are able to keep the money they made in the experiments.


Founded in 2008, Chapman University’s Economic Science Institute (ESI) uses the scientific method of inquiry to expand our understanding of human behavior regarding economics.  The institute was created by Nobel laureate Vernon L. Smith and his colleagues, Professors John Dickhaut, David Porter, Stephen Rassenti and Bart Wilson. Research at ESI encompasses the fields  of accounting, economics, finance, information systems, engineering, psychology, neuroscience, computer science and philosophy.  ESI reflects Vernon Smith’s lifelong commitment to teaching economics in an approachable and engaging way.  Dr. Smith conducted his first experiment with an introductory economics class in 1956.  That experience led him to develop a new way to teach and research economics, and it became the contribution for which he received  the 2002 Nobel Prize in Economics.


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