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Summer School study boost – one student’s experience

Carlos Vincent Chua, Economics student

26 July 2018

Carlos Vincent Chua, an Economics student, spent a week during the Oxford Summer School working on Economic Networks. Find out how he found this experience a great boost to his studies.

Thanks to the sponsorship from the University of Bristol, I was able to attend the Oxford Summer School on Economic Networks last June. The programme was an intensive one-week course where we learned about the theories and applications of economic networks. It was an enriching experience - not only did I learn from the lecturers, I learned a great deal from my colleagues who specialised in various fields.

The week started with learning the core theories and fundamentals of networks. As an economics student, these concepts were quite novel to me. To help grasp the theory, we went through a series of data exercises with Matlab and Gephi. Using data available online, we produced network visualisations and estimates to better understand the concepts.

As part of the programme, we also attended a panel discussion with Prof. Jurgen Doornik (Oxford), Dr. Robert Northcott (Birbeck), Prof. Doyne Farmer (Oxford), and Dr. Xiaowen Dong (Oxford). The panel discussed the effect that Big Data will have on current causality and prediction techniques. The panel also delved into the ethical and policy implications of the availability and use of personal data on such a grand scale.

By mid-week, we learned about economic complexity from Dr. Neave O’Clery (Oxford), who introduced the Atlas of Economic Complexity online tool and how to use it to guide economic policy. After seeing examples of economic complexity analysis for Colombia, Ethiopia, and Ireland, we were given the task to try it ourselves. We were divided into groups and assigned a country to analyse and present policy suggestions that will aid in spurring economic development. As an extra incentive, the assignment was organised as a competition, wherein each presentation would be judged by a panel.

Our group was assigned Indonesia. After a review of the Atlas tool, we found that electronics and machinery were promising industries to invest in. In our presentation, we also considered value chain dynamics for both electronics and machinery. Thanks to a solid team effort, our group was considered one of the two best presentations for the assignment. As a prize, we received Oxford Mathematical Institute mugs.

Of course, it was not all lectures and assignments. The programme came with after-class activities. The coordinators organised a formal dinner at the Somerville College, a group tour around Oxford, and even punting at the river Cherwell. These activities allowed us to socialise with our co-participants, learn from each others’ research, and form lasting friendships.

A big thank you to Dr. Neave O’Clery and the teams at the Mathematical Institute, Institute for New Economic Thinking, and Oxford Martin School for organising such an insightful and enjoyable summer programme. Thanks also to the University of Bristol for sponsoring me and allowing me to represent the university.

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