The fact that human action can make life better for people at the bottom of society was and is thrilling to me.

Marcellus Andrews

When Marcellus Andrews was a college student, he took an economics class on a whim. The decision turned out to be a key point in his journey from the "Bottom" to Bucknell.

Andrews lived his first 15 years in the Mantua neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa. – called the Bottom by those who lived there. As he grew up, he wondered about the powerful influence of the economy on the residents' lives. "I thought, 'Why is the apparent wealth of the nation, so evident on the screen of my black and white television set, so scarce in the Bottom?'" Andrews says. "What is this thing called the economy? And why do people lose jobs, hopes and lives when the economy is in trouble?"

Andrews got hooked on economics because he discovered the course helped him think about society in a systemic way. He says he likes the idea that our economic lives can be understood as moments in an ongoing process of evolution. "The fact that human action can make life better for people at the bottom of society was and is thrilling to me," he says.

Andrews teaches a variety of courses on subjects including introductory economics, intermediate and advanced macroeconomics, theories of economic justice, economic policy, income and wealth inequality, and race and economics.

The effect of a domestic recession and various market collapses abroad during the last decade has given Andrews much to cover in both basic and intermediate courses. "In this environment, a teacher must show students what finance is supposed to do – allocate capital to its most productive uses while properly pricing and transferring risk. I also want to show students how finance is supposed to do its job – via incentives, regulations and the judicious use of prisons to deter lying and shady dealing – and why the system collapsed." 

Posted Oct. 10, 2013


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