June 7, 2017 Reading Time: 2 minutes

Continuing the legacy of AIER’s founder, Col. E.C. Harwood, we are building collaborative partnerships with colleges and universities across the country. The portfolio of AIER’s programs that uses a collaborative approach has grown from just the Semester Internship Program to the Winter Program and the applied economic research collaboration.

I just came back from the AEA Conference on Teaching and Research on Economic Education, where I presented a paper describing AIER’s successful approach to building collaborative partnerships.

The paper is a practical guide for putting into practice a collaborative experiential-learning exercise. The educational literature we surveyed and our teaching experience suggest that students can learn significantly more from a greater exposure to experiential learning — learning in a workplace environment — complementing college curricula. The essence of our idea is that the classroom walls should be permeable to allow the class to withstand the rigors and requirements of the workplace. Therefore, classroom learning needs to support internship experience and vice versa, making it easier for new college graduates to enter the labor force.

So in 2016 our program brought economists from American Institute for Economic Research into the classrooms of the University of Sioux Falls and Missouri University of Science and Technology, and brought students of those classes into the workplace.

We believe that integrating academia and the workplace benefits all parties. It builds expert knowledge and soft skills and helps prepare students to develop into future leaders of their professions. Students and supervisors gain management experience and skills interacting and collaborating with team members and the rest of the staff.

The experiential-learning exercise showcased in this paper contributed to the education field by developing a ten-steps guide on how to build a new partnership. This guide provides a starting point for new university-practitioner partnerships in various fields of study.

Students in university classrooms today are the employees and researchers of the next decade. By investing time in developing partnerships among academic institutions and practitioners, we are integrating academia and the workplace, broadening the pool of potential employees, and striving to make people throughout the country more capable of conducting economic research.


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Natalia Smirnova, PhD

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