Faculty in the Spotlight with Enkelejda HAVARI, professor of Economics
With more than 700 professors, including 186 permanent professor-researchers, IÉSEG offers to its students a high-quality learning experience, based on 4 key elements: an active, interdisciplinary learning process, focused on the acquisition of competencies, offered through customized curricula.
Each month, “Faculty in the spotlight” invites you to meet one of the School’s professors who presents their vision of teaching, their methods for transmitting their expertise and passion to students and shares their best memories and stories at IÉSEG.
This month, let’s meet Enkelejda HAVARI, professor of Economics at IÉSEG.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your area of expertise?
I am originally from Albania, and after high school, I moved to Bologna in Italy, where I completed my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Economics. It was a significant step for me, and I am grateful to my family for the support, the university for the opportunities offered, and my friends for making it a memorable journey.
After the master, I decided to pursue a PhD at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata”, as I felt I had to learn more about empirical methods. It was a transformative period in my academic career, where I gained valuable knowledge and competencies. I am deeply grateful to my supervisor Prof. Franco Peracchi and the faculty for their devotion to building a great program. I specialized in labor economics and education, which is what I continue doing today.
The post-doctoral studies in Venice and a visiting period at Boston University helped me develop an interest in policy evaluation methods. I passed a competition at the European Commission (DG Joint Research Centre), where I worked with different types of data and methods to evaluate the impact of EU programs. It was a rewarding experience and made my transition to academia and IESEG smoother.
What courses do you teach at IÉSEG?
At IÉSEG, I teach different courses – for the Grande École Program, I teach “Imperfectly Competitive Markets”, which provides students with elements on how the markets work, and why they are imperfect. I also teach an Econometrics course to Master’s students who are preparing their thesis. It aims at helping them gain better knowledge of the methods and how to use them to estimate cause and effect relationships. For example, let’s say that you are interested in the impact of the Erasmus program – what does Erasmus bring to students? Does it give a better perspective for their future? With recent econometric methods, we can use data on all the Erasmus applications, and based on the admission criteria and threshold points, compare students who ranked above the threshold with those who rank below and then evaluate the impact of the program on academic performance, for instance. This is an example of a paper written with former colleagues, and students like it.
How has your area of teaching evolved overtime?
It has evolved a lot. As a PhD student, I mainly taught Econometrics modules (theory) with examples based on survey data. The data revolution has transformed the discipline. The courses now contain examples using large-scale and big data. I also notice that students have better computing and coding skills.
Why did you choose IÉSEG?
Research-wise I was very much interested in the activities of the iFlame (Research Center on Family, Labor and Migration Economics) group. The setting is unique as research centers specialize in either migration or family economics, whereas the iFlame gathers all these dimensions. Furthermore, IÉSEG has a truly international environment which is relevant for me.
How do you feel about your experience so far?
I have been here for only a year, but I am really enjoying it. I have already learned so much and, for me, it’s a continuing learning process. I like the pedagogical methods used at the school and I find the active learning approach very useful for students. I can compare with the way I was being taught economics a decade ago. Many things have changed with the development of new technologies. Nowadays, students can start practicing using computers early on and I think it helps them with understanding better the concepts.
According to your students, what are your strengths as a professor?
Based on the evaluations, students appreciate my ability to explain things clearly, and that I always provide concrete examples. I think that my experience in a policy institution helped having a broader vision of different topics, so when I bring these examples, I can see it catches their attention. They also seem to perceive my enthusiasm for the subjects.
What pedagogical methods do you use?
To teach Economics properly, you cannot just use cases. One needs to learn the theory and solve equations. One way for me to get students involved is to write the formulas on the whiteboard and ask someone to come so that we can work together. My math teacher, Ana, used to do it that way. When teaching elements of game theory, I applied it, and made the course more dynamic. I also provide extra course readings and discuss them with students.
What’s your best memory at the School so far?
A memorable experience so far has been with the Bachelor in International Business (BIB) students who are very young. The fact that they come from different countries and have different approaches to solve a problem is stimulating. The sense of humor is also different, which contributes to a lively class environment.
Despite initial struggles with Economics, a new discipline for many of them, it was rewarding to witness their progress and receive positive feedback even after the course was over.
An anecdote to tell us?
“As a new professor at IESEG, I am still building my collection of anecdotes. One moment that stands out to me occurred when I had two students in my class who were friends and frequently chatted during class. I noticed that one of the students was good with numbers, but distant and not paying attention. I challenged him with an exercise and observed a change in his behavior; he became engaged and invested in the course. It was gratifying to see that.”