Ice hockey might not be the first hobby that comes to mind for economists, but David Autor, an economics professor at MIT, is proud to be the captain of the intra hockey team. -muros of his department for several years. Autor readily admits that the team he leads is downright terrible (and he’s lowering the average!), but that’s part of the charm: anyone can join in and have fun getting to know the other members. of his department.
Autor is the Ford Professor of Economics in the Department of Economics at MIT and is affiliated with the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, the Institute for the Study of Labor, and the National Bureau of Economic Research. His research focuses on assessing the impacts of globalization and technological change on labor markets, including impacts on skill demands and income inequality. He was recently honored as Committed to Caring, an MIT recognition for faculty members who go above and beyond in their mentoring of graduate students.
Advocacy for students and diversity initiatives
Just as he encourages students to get out on the ice, Autor has been a strong advocate for student rights and the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives within the Department of Economics, which has led to its recognition as Committed to Caring.
Its authors have written at length about the various ways Autor has argued for these two important issues. One nominator wrote that Autor “has been an advocate and champion for all of his advisors and for the cause of making our department a kinder, more compassionate, and more equitable place.”
His support for these issues is not passive; On the contrary, Autor has become both a leader and an active participant in the various efforts of the Department of Economics on these issues.
Autor serves on the department’s anti-racism committee, and one student wrote that “he went above and beyond to urge our department to address the historical legacy of racism in the economy and our profession.” In addition, Autor helped design and implement a new graduate economics course focusing on racism and racial disparities.
While Autor is passionate about the efforts he leads within the Department of Economics, he also makes sure to hear feedback and opinions from other stakeholders, including the students themselves. As one proposer wrote, “David cares deeply about getting it right, acknowledges mistakes if they happen, and appreciates feedback from me and other students.”
Helping Students Succeed
As he oversees his students’ progress in higher education, Autor strives to mentor them in a way that sets them up for success. A clear tenet of Autor’s approach is to treat its students as peers, not subordinates.
Autor sees himself as someone who can complement graduate students and help them achieve all that they can be. As Autor writes, “I’m happiest when I see students rise to the challenge of realizing the potential of big ideas. They always have [great ideas], and I’m here to help them realize that potential. Autor’s students echoed his supportive ways, noting in their letters of appointment how often they turned to Autor for “guidance, comfort and support.”
Autor also emphasizes honesty and humility when mentoring its graduate students. In a field as vast and varied as economics, even Autor admits that he often does not have all the specific knowledge he needs to effectively guide his students.
When this happens, Autor says he refers his students to literature and knowledgeable faculty members inside and outside the economics department, to help “fill in the pieces of the puzzle.” lacking”. In this way, Autor hopes to ensure that students receive the input, expertise, and inspiration they need to succeed.
Autor goes on to describe how he likes to conduct himself with his students, writing that “graduate students deserve respect, they need encouragement, they enjoy humor and camaraderie, and they enjoy high expectations”.
Sometimes that can be an extra dose of encouragement. Other times it may be an invitation to join the department’s intramural hockey team. Whatever the method, it is clear that Autor takes pride in elevating its students so that they can achieve their academic and professional goals.