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Fifteen-Year-Old SOE Seminar Series Celebrates Its 1000th Event


On May 17th, the 1000th seminar was successfully held in SOE. It was given by Prof. Martin Ellison, Professor of Economics and Professorial Fellow of Nuffield College, University of Oxford. "It's been a lively seminar, there were some sharp questions, pointing out the shortcomings in my research method. They would be very helpful for my following research," Prof. Ellison said after the seminar, "and this is exactly why I come to SUFE—to receive inspiration and suggestions from other researchers."

Prof. Martin Ellison, Speaker of the 1000th seminar


 The seminar series is a critical part in establishing an international system for the academic exchange. To establish such a system has been at the top-level design ever since the comprehensive reform in economics education was introduced in SOE in 2014. Dean Guoqiang Tian has a very clear strategy over cultivating and developing overseas returnees, "First-class faculty + first-class environment=first-class achievement. That many high-level innovative talents joined SOE faculty over the last decade or so is very much connected to the international academic environment and atmosphere established in SOE through keeping the faculty in close contact with the cutting-edge academic research at home and abroad.  Without a sound academic system and environment, no matter how many returnee talents we have, Chinese academic research will never be strengthened and will be voiceless in the international community. Besides, the remarkable results in the development of top-notch innovative talents is also attributed to the establishment of a series of academic exchange activities, such as the weekly seminars."

Promote Exchange on Research and Cutting-edge Academic Achievements

In 2005, SOE recruited the first group of overseas returnees with doctorate degrees.  The weekly seminar was begun then and hosted some talks given by Prof. Elmar Wolfstetter from Humboldt-University at Berlin, Prof. Cheng Wang from Iowa State University, Prof. Xiaodong Zhu from University of Toronto, Prof. Songnian Chen from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, etc. 

Initially, the seminar was presented once a week in the afternoon on Friday. With increasing faculty members and subfields, there began to be several seminars a week on different topics, including microeconomics, macroeconomics, experimental economics, applied economics, econometrics, political economics and economics history. Now, the seminar series has a very standard operating procedure and becomes very important in attracting talents. It enables the faculty to remain abreast of new developments and trends in their research field. 

Benefits to Students and Young Faculty Development

Over the years, the series has hosted some senior professors for talks, such as Hanming Fang, Junsen Zhang, Ningzhu, Shangjin Wei, Gary Charness, Peter Wakker and Stephen Morris. Many young scholars at the rank of assistant professor were also invited to give their talk. Being the most vibrant and dynamic researchers, they often focus their research on cutting edge theories and share in the seminar their research motives and methods as well as the difficulties and challenges encountered in their research. Such experience facilitates fresh thinking in the research and is beneficial to the faculty and students. The seminar series invites experts and scholars from all over the world and provides a forum for the department's students and faculty to keep abreast with the latest research developments and trends. 

Make China's Voice Better Heard and Strengthen Reputation and Influence of Economics Discipline

Prof. Masaki Aoyagi from Osaka University, Speaker of the 686th Seminar

 "As co-editor of International Economic Review, I invited one SOE faculty member to be a reviewer for a manuscript I was editing. At his invitation, I come to present a working paper at the seminar." Prof. Masaki Aoyagi from Osaka University talked about his first visit to Shanghai. Prof. Kang Rong said that the seminar series provided a platform for international scholars to learn more about the department and the university. One difficulty for Chinese scholars to publish a paper in the international journals is that their submissions often receive insufficient attention, as the editors in these journals do not know much about the background of Chinese scholars. The seminar series serves as an effective way to promote the understanding. 

Prof. Yongchao Zhang said that as peer review is one of the indicators used for many university rankings, speaker evaluation on the university has become very important. Therefore, the seminar series is a good way for the department and the university to strengthen their international reputation. In 2016, SUFE ranked 150-200 in the QS World University Rankings by Subject: Economics and Econometrics for the first time, in which the academic peer review carried the greatest share of weight. In 2019, SUFE ranked 101-150 in the same category.

Innovate Seminar System to Better Serve Talent Cultivation

The 1000th event starts a new phase in the seminar series, which, in the future, will play a greater role in helping the department build a world-class economic discipline. Recently, Economics&Business in SUFE has made the extraordinary breakthrough of ranking among the world’s Top 1% disciplines in the Essential Science Indicators (ESI) Discipline Ranking. The latest Tilburg University Economics Ranking based on high quality research publications from 2009 to 2018 in 35 respected economics journals placed the discipline of economics of SUFE 1st in China, 2nd in Asia and 69th worldwide. Particularly, the ranking of the discipline jumped to 35th place in the world in 2018.

With the support of the first-class faculty and research, the department is starting to emerge as an important academic base for world-class economics research. Going forward, greater focus will be given to cultivate world-class doctoral students. In the recent mid-term meeting of doctoral dissertation work, Dean Tian pointed out that economics research in foreign universities paid more attention to applied research, but most doctoral students in SOE chose pure theoretical research and their research lacked in originality and attention to frontier research topics and China's economics. The department will explore in more depth how to better integrate the seminar system and graduate student cultivation in future.