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Northwestern University

The Economics Department’s New Home

Weinberg College economists will work side-by-side with management scholars in the Kellogg School’s new global hub

By Daniel P. Smith

Northwestern University’s Department of Economics has a new home.

But this isn’t just any new home, Department of Economics chair Lawrence Christiano confirms. With a place inside Kellogg School of Management’s newly constructed global hub, Christiano says his heralded department welcomes a transformative opportunity to deepen and strengthen its ties with one of the world’s elite business schools.

“This move into Kellogg’s new global hub presents us with a rich opportunity to enhance our culture and drive further collaboration with Kellogg,” says Christiano, the Alfred W. Chase Professor of Business Institutions. “We are truly fortunate to be a partner in this remarkable effort.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new building, Northwestern University President Morton Schapiro called the Department of Economics’ move into the new headquarters “a brilliant decision,” while Weinberg College Dean Adrian Randolph said it reflected something special about Northwestern: its commitment to interdisciplinary education.

Built for collaboration

Arriving with much fanfare and a $220 million price tag, Kellogg’s new six-story, 410,000-square-foot headquarters was designed with flexibility and the future in mind.

There’s a 6,000-square foot ground-level atrium that functions as an everyday central meeting point as well as a host for special events; a faculty summit area, which includes a meeting area, six seminar rooms and PhD teaching spaces; and technology-infused, adaptable classrooms that can be flat, tiered, divided or expanded.

Above all, the lakefront-sited education center, punctuated by striking views of Lake Michigan, Chicago’s iconic skyline and Northwestern’s historic campus, encourages collaboration with a host of open and inviting communal spaces designed to spur interaction.

“There’s going to be a far greater chance of bumping into one another over coffee or lunch, and it’s those types of spontaneous interactions that help drive connections,” says Christiano, whose department includes 50 faculty members and 150 graduate students. About 1,000 Northwestern undergraduates pursue an economics major.

A “symbiotic arrangement”

Kellogg and the Department of Economics have long maintained a strong relationship that addresses diverse subject areas, from macroeconomics and finance to managerial economics and decision sciences. But Christiano expects that the hub will spur even greater cooperation.

“Though economics and Kellogg have shared a home for many years at [the Jacobs Center], that space was amazingly non-conducive to physical interaction between our faculty and students,” Christiano says.

With this new “symbiotic arrangement,” Christiano expects the degree of collaboration between Kellogg and his department to surge and propel the performance of both units, particularly in areas such as research, curriculum and recruiting.

“I don’t think we’ve come even close to recognizing the synergies between our two groups,” Christiano says, pointing to a University-wide big data initiative as one particular area of collaborative opportunity. “In the new building, I feel our connections will only grow stronger and lead to more important and valuable research.”

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