Danforth-Lewis Professor of Economics John Duca joined the college’s faculty this spring after supervising macroeconomics and finance research at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas from 1991 to 2017. He most recently served as the associate director of research and vice president.
Though Duca’s experience at the Federal Reserve gives him an edge when it comes to understanding the real-world implications of studying economics, he also has experience in the classroom from teaching at Southern Methodist University and the University of Maryland. However, he was primarily a federal reserve researcher and policy maker, conducting long-term research on a range of policy topics including housing during financial crises, macroeconomics, and the effects of different aspects of regulation on financial stability and the U.S. economy.
Duca says this position required comfort with public speaking, a passion that comes in handy when teaching in the classroom.
Aside from being able to engage in a public service position at an “open and inclusive” institution, Duca was drawn to Oberlin mainly because of the potential he saw in the student body. Almost immediately, he observed his students are driven by genuine curiosity rather than their career paths. Even more impressive was their “intellectual curiosity motivated in part by what they could do to make a difference.” This attitude fits perfectly with his overarching goal as an educator—to help students understand that what they learn in the classroom is connected to broader society. He emphasizes that being globally aware is the first step toward actually improving the world.
Duca sees tremendous value in helping undergraduates further develop and discover their interests in hopes of enriching both their current and post-Oberlin experience. In terms of his own passion for economics, Duca is grateful for the ability to continue teaching while also participating in federal reserve policy at the Federal Reserve bank of Cleveland.