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Nobel-winning economist Vernon L. Smith lectures Santa Ana high school students

The ‘Father of Experimental Economics’ was joined by Chapman colleague Bart Wilson at the Nicholas Academic Centers.

By Sophia GioielloPublished: November 22, 2011 07:00 AM

Dr. Vernon L. Smith
Chapman University professor and Nobel-winning economist, Dr. Vernon L. Smith, and his colleague, Dr. Bart Wilson, recently revealed their innovative teaching methods to high school students at the Nicholas Academic Centers in Santa Ana. The two educators made their second appearance as part of the center’s 2011-2012 Visiting Scholar Series.

Smith and Wilson performed economic “double auction” experiments, in which students discovered how both buyers and sellers who do not know each other’s interests can benefit from market transactions. The professors also conducted an experiment showing how buyers and sellers often make choices that help the other individuals reach a more desirable outcome.

Wilson said, “When people need to rely on the trust of others, they repay kindness with kindness, and that makes both buyer and seller better off.”

Smith got the idea for his Experimental Economics as a new Harvard Ph.D. teaching his first class at Purdue University. He said, “I realized I didn’t know anything about the connection between the pretty pictures in the textbooks and how the real world worked. So I decided to do an experiment.”

Smith was honored with the Nobel Prize in Economics for his groundbreaking work in economics experiments.

The Nicholas Academic Centers’ Visiting Scholar Series is now in its second year. It focuses on introducing inner-city high school students to a college academic environment. Since the beginning of the program, Chapman University faculty and staff members have delivered speeches on a wide range of topics.

Aimed to spark the interests of all students, the scheduled lectures are held from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at 313 North Birch St., in downtown Santa Ana.

“To be able to spend time learning from a Nobel Prize winner is a tremendous experience for our students,” said Dr. Henry Nicholas, president and CEO of Broadcom Corp., and co-founder of the Nicholas Academic Centers. “Dr. Smith creates a strong bond with students, because he helps them understand how the real world works.”

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