It’s not often that a Nobel laureate comes to town. It’s even less common for an undergraduate to hear one speak and sit ten feet away from them in a lecture hall. As exciting as it is, it can also seem rather daunting. These were my initial sentiments when Dr. Roger Myerson, one of the three 2007 Nobel Prize winners in economics, came to IU to give the Roy Gardner memorial lecture. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself as relaxed and intrigued as I would be in any other lecture.
Dr. Myerson won the Nobel Prize for his work on mechanism design, a mathematically heavy and very technical branch of economics. Therefore, I had expected to see a board filled with equations and solution concepts. The actual content of the lecture could not have been further from my expectations. Dr. Myerson’s lecture was an incredibly insightful reflection on the importance of local government. He traced the roots of local government back to the onset of human history, and worked his way up to the current time period. In doing so, he highlighted the successes and failures of institutions across time, some of which are still relevant today.
Overall, the lecture was very enticing, and while the content itself was certainly enthralling, the primary message I received was that one’s interests can have no bounds. In research, it seems easy to get pigeonholed in a few niche fields, but Dr. Myerson showed that this does not have to be the case. He was able to discuss a topic that was seemingly unrelated to his Nobel Prize winning work, but with what I imagine was a comparative level of enthusiasm. I cannot emphasize the impact that this had on an aspiring economist, and for that, I have to be grateful.