3. Alan Kirman This interview took place on 16 May, 2008, in Harrisonburg, Virginia How did you get interested in economics? It’s a weird story. I went to Oxford and studied law and geography. After that I became a high school teacher, and I did that for four years. When I was working as a high school teacher I went to some evening classes run by the Workers Education Association, which is associated with the cooperative movement. They organized evening courses for anyone who wanted to go to them. I got interested in economics there, and I thought rather than continuing as a high school teacher for the rest of my life, I would like to do some economics. At that time, however, there were no taught master’s courses in Europe. Then I saw an advertisement for a program run by Johns Hopkins University in Bologna, Italy and it said SAIS, School of Advanced International Studies. They had a diploma in International Economics, Law and Politics that you could apply for. They gave me a scholarship. There were very good people there – some of the founders of the European Union. The person I took microeconomics from was Ira Scott, who came from the University of Minnesota. He wrote a letter for me to get into Minnesota, and said that if I was interested in going on in economics, I would be accepted there. I went there as an innocent graduate student, having done almost no economics, and zero mathematics. I...
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