The Heart of Teaching Economics
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The Heart of Teaching Economics

Lessons from Leading Minds

Simon W. Bowmaker

This unique monograph comprises a collection of interviews conducted face-to-face with leading economists at universities throughout the United States. Presented with the singular opportunity to reflect on and share their wisdom and experience, the 21 interviewees discuss how they interpret, understand and practice their role as teachers. In addition to providing lessons that will inform the way others teach, the interviews shatter the illusion that teaching and research are strictly independent and competing activities.
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Chapter 5: Game Theory

Benjamin Polak


Benjamin Polak Benjamin Polak was born in London, England in 1961 and graduated with a BA in economics from Cambridge University in 1984 before obtaining an MA in history from Northwestern University in 1986 and a PhD in economics from Harvard University in 1992. He joined the Yale faculty in 1994, where he currently serves as the William C. Brainard Professor of Economics. At Yale, Professor Polak teaches an undergraduate course in Game Theory, PhD courses in Microeconomic Theory and Advanced Microeconomic Theory and MBA courses in Game Theory, Decision Analysis and Game Theory and Business History. He has been honored with three major university teaching prizes: Yale College’s Lex Hixon ’63 Prize for Teaching Excellence in the Social Sciences (2006), the Department of Economics’ Graduate Teaching Prize (2005) and the William Clyde DeVane Medal for undergraduate teaching and scholarship at Yale College (2005). Professor Polak’s research interests include the interface between economics and history, game theory, economic inequality and individuals’ responses to uncertainty. His articles have been published in Econometrica, Journal of Economic Theory, Rand Journal of Economics, Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization and Journal of Theoretical and Institutional Economics, among others. 79 M2372 - BOWMAKER TEXT.indd 79 29/9/10 11:36:33 80 The heart of teaching economics I interviewed Benjamin Polak in his office at the Department of Economics at Yale University. It was the middle of the afternoon of Monday, May 11, 2009. BACKGROUND INFORMATION Why did you decide to study economics as an undergraduate? For...

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