Introducing HxA’s new Q+A series where we chat with members about their scholarship, intellectual life, and issues around open inquiry, viewpoint diversity, and constructive disagreement.
Today’s exchange is with Ashley Hodgson, the moderator for the HxEconomics Community. Ashley Hodgson is an Associate Professor of Economics with research and teaching interests in health care economics, behavioral economics, blockchain and platform economics. She serves as chair of the economics department at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN.
Q. Ashley, can you give us a two-sentence summary of your work and/or academic interests?
A. I was trained as a health care economist and still do work in that area but I’ve recently taken up an interest in blockchain and institutions as well. This summer I also started a YouTube channel as a way of thinking through the mechanisms and incentives behind some of the problems relating to social media, power concentration, information spread and distrust in institutions.
Q. What do you love most about university life?
A. The rhythm of the academic calendar is what I love most about academia. I love the oscillation between intense interaction and exchange of ideas with people during the school year and a slower more contemplative summer when you can process.
Q. What does “heterodoxy” mean to you?
A. I view heterodoxy as a process for creating space for people with different viewpoints to participate, challenge and learn from each other. Heterodoxy supports the co-creation of information in an intellectual community.
Q. How has your membership with HxA added to your academic life?
A. On campus, there are fewer and fewer spaces that do a good job of supporting the kinds of conversations that are both intellectually explorative and challenging. The people I’ve met through HxA share my hunger for these kinds of conversations and for problem-solving around how to bring them back to campus. My experience with almost every HxA conversation is that we connect on a deeper level really quickly, and that this connection feeds me in a way that I need in order to do the best work in my teaching and research.
Q. How do you define “success” in your teaching / in your classroom?
A. Success in the classroom means that students leave a class with the skills and knowledge to build their own worldview, and to update and improve it in response to new ideas and information they will encounter throughout their lives. Graduation should mean that they have such good mechanisms for this that they have the capacity to challenge existing orthodoxies, including my own.
Q. When you’re not in the classroom, researching, or writing, what do you most enjoy spending your time on/doing?
A. I’m embarrassingly nerdy, so a lot of my free time is in book groups and writing science fiction. But I also like hiking, which is usually my answer to that question so that I sound less academic.
Q. Top three desert island movies or books?
A. Pride and Prejudice, Harry Potter and Anna Karenina
Q. Snowstorm or Heat Wave?