BLOOMINGTON, Ill.— An experimental economist who has consulted on natural resource
issues ranging from the marketing of water to endangered species’ protection will
deliver the Eckley Lecture in Economics Sept. 10 at Illinois Wesleyan University.
Don L. Coursey, Ameritech Professor of Public Policy at the University of Chicago’s
Harris School of Public Policy, will present “Vernon Smith, Economic Experiments,
and the Visible Hand” at 7 p.m. in the Hansen Student Center (300 Beecher St., Bloomington).
The lecture is free and open to the public.
Having studied under Nobel Prize-winner Vernon L. Smith, Coursey has applied the techniques
of experimental economics to investigate natural resource issues and seeks to understand
‘alternative institutions’ impact prior to implementation. Coursey’s work has significantly
expanded economists’ knowledge of such issues as endangered species protection, the
marketing of water, and understanding insurance behavior under different risk conditions
for natural disasters, University officials said.
“Dr. Coursey was chosen to deliver the Eckley Lecture because of his expertise in
investigating environmental policy problems from an economic perspective,” said Ilaria
Ossella-Durbal, chair and associate professor of economics. “He led an investigation
about environmental equality in Chicago, documenting the prevalence of hazardous industrial
sites in poor neighborhoods.”
Ossella-Durbal said Coursey values endangered species from an economics standpoint
to understand the importance of different species to society. Coursey also consulted
with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration after the Exxon Valdez oil spill to develop federal response guidelines for environmental disasters.
At Chicago’s Harris School, students have named Coursey Professor of the Year for
six consecutive years. He served as dean of the school from 1996 to 1998, and previously
taught at Washington University in St. Louis and at the University of Wyoming. Coursey
received both a Bachelor of Arts degree in mathematics and a Ph.D. in economics from
the University of Arizona.
The Eckley Lecture in Economics was made possible by a gift to the University from
President Emeritus Robert S. Eckley, his wife Nell and the Eckley Family Foundation
shortly before Eckley passed away in 2012. Prior to his 18-year tenure as IWU president,
Eckley was considered one of the nation’s top business economists and was Caterpillar
Inc.’s first professional economist. He earned a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University.