For Associate Professor of Economics Dr. Tino Sonora, the 2013-14 Fort Lewis College Featured Scholar, the study of economics is sometimes complicated, but also deeply interesting and, yes, even fun. Choices made, even a world away, can have ripple effects across the globe, felt right to our doorsteps. Understanding the effects of choices is what drives Dr. Sonora.
“I think most people think of economics as inflation and unemployment, but economics is the study of choices,” he explains. “Whatever choice you make is an economic one and can be studied, and that’s what I hope the students get out of it.”
The broad nature of economics has led him all over the world. He only recently returned from a trip to Croatia as a Fulbright Scholar where he both taught and conducted research into one of the world’s current hot button issues: the future of the Eurozone and European Union, the latter of which Croatia joined in 2013.
Dr. Sonora’s work has led him to be considered an economic expert among many media outlets. He also heads the Fort Lewis College School of Business Administration’s Office of Business and Economic Research, giving numerous presentations to civic and local groups. Both are roles that help him use his research for the public good, as well as drive his own curiosity.
This tangled web that the study of economics seeks to understand, the implications that one disturbance in one part of the web has on the whole, and how the web works together for both good and bad is what fascinates Dr. Sonora. The freedom to study what fascinates him is what drew him to Fort Lewis College, and that’s part of the philosophy he wants to impart to his students.
“I think of myself as an economist who teaches. I don’t think of myself as a teacher. Rather, I think of myself as an assistant to learning. I’m first and foremost an economist, and hopefully I bring that passion for what I do to the classroom.”
His passion for research seems to be rubbing off on his students. For example, in 2012 he introduced an econometrics course, which is a very research-intensive look at economics. His first class last year had six students. This year the class tripled in size.
The idea that economics is the study of choices and the effects of those choices can touch everything around us is what drives Dr. Sonora to find the next question and the next challenge. If he can inspire that kind of drive in his students, then maybe the impacts of the next worldwide economic crisis can be averted, or at least better understood, by the Dr. Sonora-trained economists of the future.