Office Hours: A Q&A with Professor Aaron Jackson

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Professor Aaron Jackson, PhD, received his doctorate and began his teaching career at the University of Oregon. He enjoys teaching macroeconomic and monetary theory and policy, and has dedicated much of his time to the Economics department and the university. Jackson’s current research focuses on the effectiveness and communications of central banks.

What do you love most about teaching Honors Program courses?

I love working with such a motivated and ambitious group of students. The intellectual curiosity of our Honors Program students allows me to explore the course material in so many different ways that enhance the learning experience of the students, makes my job of finding new and innovative material a constant learning exercise for myself, and keeps the experience fresh for me and the students.

What’s your favorite thing about teaching Bentley students?

Bentley students have their stuff together. They are motivated, and goal oriented, but beyond that, have a unique and diverse character that makes my job fun. Because the classes are relatively small, I have the fortune of getting to know my students on a personal level, which is both fun and rewarding as I can more clearly see the impacts my colleagues and I have on their path in life.

How does studying in the Honors Program prepare students for success in their lives and careers?

Students in the Program take more intellectually challenging coursework, and get to learn and collaborate with industrious and engaged peers. In this sense, students get more out of their coursework through the Honors Program curriculum. In addition, through their senior research projects, students are able to refine their creativity, critical thinking, writing, and so many other valuable skills that they will carry with them the rest of their lives. I hear of a number of students each year who talk to potential employers about their senior research project, and end up “sealing the deal” for a job because of the high level and rigor of the research projects they complete in impressive fashion.

What was your favorite subject or class when you were in college?

Not surprisingly, since I have a PhD in economics, my favorite subject was economics. For me, taking my first economics course made everything just click, and I think I was quickly hooked on it because it allows you to explain so much of the world around you ways that makes sense. Everything about economics starts with the notion that people respond to incentives, which goes a long way toward helping explain human behavior in so many contexts.

What was your very first job?

The first job I ever had was working for my dad’s construction company. From a very early age (3 or 4) I was obsessed with building things, and as I got older I followed my dad around the construction site cleaning up and fetching things, which eventually evolved into more significant roles of actually building things.

Despite my relatively young age, I gained significant responsibilities in my late teens into my early 20s as a project manager, and estimator for multi-million dollar projects.

Even though the roles are very different between that job and what I do now, there are a lot of intangibles that I gained through my years in construction that I use in my myriad roles today at Bentley. I still build things, but rather than the end result of a physical structure, the outcomes are in the hearts and minds of our students. And unlike in construction, what I do doesn’t necessarily have any blueprints – I am essentially drawing (and re-drawing) the blueprints all the time to deliver my knowledge, expertise, and opportunities to our students.

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