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Meet Your Faculty – Dr. Matthew Winden

Department: Economics

What was your favorite subject in school & why?

In high school my favorite subject was Social Studies, especially when it dealt with current political issues.  I enjoyed these classes, because they often discussed issues and policies that have very real impacts on people’s lives and the direction that our society takes.  In college, no surprise, my favorite subject was Economics and for much of the same reason.  Economics provides the toolbox and skillset for examining, analyzing, understanding, and improving policies and their potential impacts on individuals and society.

What was your least favorite subject in school & why?

My least favorite subject was Science in both high school and college.  While I personally feel these subjects (i.e. Chemistry and Biology) are incredibly important to understand and encourage, I find them interesting mostly from a lay-person’s perspective reading books by the likes of Bill Bryson, Michio Kaku, and Brian Greene or watching science shows.  Really digging into the details of elements and cells just didn’t do it for me.

What were you doing before you came to Whitewater?

Before coming to Whitewater, I finished my undergraduate work at UW-Green Bay and received my Bachelor of Science in Economics.  I then completed my Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in Agricultural, Environmental and Development Economics under the direction of Professor Timothy Haab.

What made you want to teach?

As a paradigm, I find Economics offers an incredibly powerful set of tools that can help individuals to be successful in their personal and professional lives. I truly believe in the value it provides as a mode for organizing the way one thinks about and approaches problems, analyzes different possibilities and courses of action, and ultimately makes and reflects on decisions.  I can’t think of a greater career than helping others to see and appreciate the tools Economics provides to use and be successful in their own lives!

What research are you currently working on?

I continue to actively study the environmental and natural resource impacts of alternative energy solutions with a current focus on biofuels.  I’m also involved in research on efficient coastal storm mitigation and adaptation planning incorporating the impacts and changes in risk induced by climate change.  I’m involved in work on voluntary participation by agricultural producer in water quality management programs utilizing market mechanisms.

What do you like to do outside of the College of Business & Economics?

Tennis, traveling, camping, hiking, kayaking, and spending time with my two dogs.

What is something that students would be surprised to learn about you?

I enjoy home improvement, design, and landscaping as well as car mechanics.  Outside of work I like to stay busy and get my hands dirty – I’ve rehabbed two houses, built a four season porch and cedar deck on my mom’s house and within the next year or two am looking to restore a vintage car.

What is something about teaching that was unexpected when you first began?

That good teaching and learning doesn’t “just happen”.  Teaching is the result of good preparation, planning, organization and hard work on the part of the instructor.  For every hour of lecture, there is at least another 1.5 hours of preparation.  On-the-other-hand, learning is the result of a tremendous amount of good preparation planning, organization and extremely hard work on the part of the student.  For every hour spent in the classroom, there is usually another 1.5 hours of study outside of it.  If an instructor does everything right but students don’t come prepared or aren’t engaged, effective learning can’t happen. If a student does everything right but an instructor doesn’t come prepared or isn’t engaged, effective learning can’t happen. Both parties have got to do their part in the learning process for everyone to be successful.

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