Published by mheinl on May 26, 2022
Victor Lima, Senior Instructional Professor of Economics, Receives Quantrell Award
The transformative education that students experience at the University of Chicago begins with the teachers who inspire them.
The University annually recognizes faculty for exceptional teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students through the Llewellyn John and Harriet Manchester Quantrell Awards, believed to be the nation’s oldest prize for undergraduate teaching; and the Faculty Awards for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring, which honor faculty for their work with graduate students. Victor Lima, Senior Instructional Professor of Economics, was one of this year's Quantrell Award recipients.
For Victor Lima, teaching economic concepts can feel like “more of an art than a science.” That’s why the senior instructional professor designs courses that are a blend of tools and applications—combining theoretical frameworks with compelling real-life examples.
His goal is to make sure that students not only understand the material, but can apply what they learn to their specific interests.
“In my opinion, the power and flexibility of the economic approach are best illustrated with examples. If those examples appeal to students, then class discussion will be fascinating,” said Lima, who is co-director of undergraduate studies and master’s programs for the Department of Economics.
“In my opinion, the power and flexibility of the economic approach are best illustrated with examples. If those examples appeal to students, then class discussion will be fascinating.”
In a nomination letter, one student wrote about how Lima’s open-ended prompts sparked heated debates with friends over dinner. They also described how Lima pushed the class to engage with economics more broadly—to think about the discipline’s fundamental insights, along with its strengths and shortcomings as part of a larger intellectual landscape.
Lima also prioritizes research structure as part of his teaching, showing students how a consistent framework can be used to test behavioral observations across a range of human activity. By starting students on the road to critical economic thinking, Lima hopes to foster the analytical skills that will serve them well regardless of their postgraduate paths.
“I believe that all jobs are ‘research jobs,’” Lima said. “A thorough understanding of the economic approach, and the ability to apply it broadly, will be invaluable to our students’ future success.”
Lima teaches the first course that many Economics majors take, "Elements of Economic Analysis I." He also laid the foundation for the largest major on the UChicago campus, which accounts for more than one quarter of all declared majors. He helped create and leads both the MAPSS- and MACSS-Econ courses, which have experienced unprecedented growth since their inception.
Read the original article and award announcement, as well as read more about other award recipients, at news.uchicago.edu.
Photo of Victor Lima by Jason Smith.