Calvin professor presents at economic symposium

Once a year, students and staff from Cornerstone University, Hope College, Aquinas College and Calvin College come together for something unrelated to sports.

Last Wednesday, one professor from each institution was featured on a panel to reflect on this economic year and make predictions for 2016. The annual Economic Symposium rotates venues among the four participating schools. Last year was Calvin’s turn to host; this year the event was held at Cornerstone.

Economics professor Adel Abadeer represented Calvin College on the panel for his third year. “I come from Boston, where we had a lot of collaboration between top schools like Harvard, Boston University and Northeastern University. We need that here, especially because we are smaller colleges.”

Lighthouse Group, the largest private insurance agency in Michigan, and The Grand Rapids Hall of Fame sponsored the event. For the first time, a non-faculty member moderated discussion: Carole Valande, editor for the Grand Rapids Business Journal.

Abadeer presented specifically on the new norm of stagnant economic growth and argued that the current unemployment rate is misleading. Other topics discussed included the impact of China’s new second child policy, the change in minimum wage policy in the United States, and implications of U.S. national debt exceeding GDP for the first time in history. The symposium serves as a chance for professors to debate, discuss and comment on each other’s perspectives in front of businesses, faculty and students.

In an article advertising the event, Hall of Fame President Mark Kimball said, “Together [with Lighthouse Group] we developed the idea of the symposium to showcase the schools’ academic strengths. It has proven to be a wonderful event.”

“It sheds needed light on the economics of West Michigan in addition to the national and global economy,” noted Abadeer. “It also brings together students, entrepreneurs, academics, news reporters, community organizations, local businesses and political representatives. It is a great opportunity for social and professional networking. I think the event is gaining popularity.”

Abadeer hopes this might spark productive collaboration between other departments in the four schools. “We could have symposiums in biology, chemistry, political science, history and theology. … Different points of view are better than one.”

Although the event was completely sold out, there was little student turnout from Calvin. If you’re interested in economics and business in Grand Rapids, talk to your professors and keep an eye out for next year’s Economic Symposium.