EMU's Fed Challenge team competed against seventeen other colleges at the Chicago Fed on Tuesday, November 16, 2011. Our Fed Challenge Team made it to the second round of competition together with Albion College, Northwestern, and University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. Albion college was the overall winner as officially announced and will compete in Washington, D.C. on November 29th against winners from other Federal Reserve Districts. Based on unofficial feedback from one of the afternoon judges EMU's team finished a close second behind Albion. This is the first time in the eight years of the competition that Northwestern did not win the regional competition.

Our 2011 FED Challange team consisted of Edward Cruz, Gregory Henry, Daniel Routley, Peter Torres, Jonathan Williams, with Cullen Pasquesi-­Hill as alternate, and Christy Okpo and Jeff Kennedy helping with preparation leading up to the competition. After the competition, EMU alumnus Bruce Gockerman treated the team to an outstanding dinner at the Union League Club in Chicago.

The Fed Challenge consists of college teams of five students making a 15 minute presentation evaluating current economic conditions, the outlook for future economic activity, and based on this, a recommendation for monetary policy. Teams are graded on their knowledge of the Federal Reserve and macroeconomic goals and theory, on their presentation and analysis of key measures of economic activity, and finally on their performance as a team. This is followed by 15 minutes of Q&A from judges who are drawn from the professional staff at the Fed for the afternoon competition.

For the first time this year, preparation for the competition consisted of a three credit hour course supplemented by late evening and weekend rehersals. Registration for the course requires a GPA of 3.0 or better and completion of Intermediate Macroeconomics with a grade of B- or better. Contact Dr. Crary dcrary@emich.edu if you are interested in being considered for a position in the FED Challange class and team for fall 2012.

Professor Sharon Erenburg

Eastern Michigan economics professor Sharon Erenburg usually gives multiple-choice tests to the 70-plus students in her "Principles of Macroeconomics" class. The class size just doesn't lend itself to a lot of writing assignments.

But last fall, as part of a pilot assessment of Eastern Michigan's revised General Education standards, Erenburg tried something different with one section of the class.

She had her students in her class read an article from CNNMoney.com about the Federal Reserve lowering interest rates. Then, in an assignment worth 20 percent of their grade, they had to explain, in detail, the role of the central bank and the effect of that rate decrease on the economy.

She also set up a rubric that specified how much detail and accuracy they needed on each question to receive an "A", or a "B", and so on.

"It was interesting," she said. "The cooperation level was extremely high. They really got into this assignment. I don't know if it’s because I told them it was part of a pilot, but they really seemed to appreciate the rubric itself and the opportunity to write and analyze as opposed to just coming in to take a multiple-choice test."

The first year under EMU's new general education requirements is filled with these kinds of stories, example after example of points where the academic rubber meets the real-world road.

“In our MA program, we teach students how to model and analyze data and use their results to draw conclusions and make decisions. In today’s world of data-based decision-making, these sorts of skills are very marketable.” James Thornton.

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