The Berry Center was launched in the fall of 2006 with an inaugural address by Nobel Laureate Robert Solow, professor of economics emeritus at MIT. Since then prominent public intellectuals and policy experts have regularly visited the campus to present scholarly research or discuss issues in the public square.

The Berry Center also organizes symposia in applied economics, and panel discussions focused on contemporary issues in economics and public policy.


Prominent Public Lectures

Gary Becker

Nobel Laureate Gary Becker, economist, University of Chicago

Nobel Laureate and University of Chicago economist Gary Becker gave a public lecture entitled "The Worldwide Boom in Higher Education and Why the United States is Falling Behind." Recipient of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences in 1992, Becker is one of the leading economic theorists of our time. He was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2000, and in 2007 he received the highest civilian award in the United States, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is the author of 10 books and more than 100 professional articles. His path-breaking research has included labor market discrimination, investments in human capital, the economics of marriage and divorce, the demand for children, and the economic determinants of crime and punishment. Prior to his public presentation, Becker met with a student reading group to discuss his research on the market for transplant organs.

Sam Peltzman

Sam Peltzman, economist, University of Chicago

The causes and consequences of the 2008 financial crisis were the focus of a major public lecture by Professor Sam Peltzman, professor emeritus of economics at the University of Chicago. Peltzman is one of the world's leading authorities on the economics of government regulation. He has long argued that unintended consequences frustrate the intent of government regulation, tending to make regulation ineffective or counter-productive. In his presentation, "Regulation and Financial Crisis: Unsafe at Any Speed", he explained how financial regulations, in particular deposit insurance, were offset by banks with riskier behavior that contributed to the 2008 crisis. Peltzman was the Director of the Stigler Center for the Study of the Economy and the State at the University of Chicago. He has also served on the President's Council of Economic Advisors. In addition to his public lecture, Peltzman met with students to discuss regulation in health care
Robert Frank

Robert Frank, economist, Cornell University

Internationally renowned behavioral economist Robert Frank lectured on the economic role of the government during his visit to Cornell. His public talk was entitled "The Libertarian Welfare State: Governing with a Light Touch." He argued that the government is justified in intervening in the market when private behavior has the potential for creating either direct or indirect social harm. Frank, an economics professor at Cornell University, is an expert on income inequality and contributes a monthly column to the New York Times. Frank also joined a Berry Center reading group for a discussion and book signing. The reading group used Frank's book The Economic Naturalist: In Search of Explanations for Everyday Enigmas as their selection.

Tim Roemer

Tim Roemer, former U.S. Congressman and ambassador to India

The Berry Center hosted former Congressman and member of the 9/11 Commission Tim Roemer for a talk entitled "National Security Challenges in the 21st Century." As Congressman from the Third District of Indiana (1991-2003), Roemer was the leading Democrat on the U.S. House Education Committee when the No Child Left Behind legislation was passed. He was a member of the blue-ribbon 9/11 Commission, and served as U.S. ambassador to India in the Obama administration.

Additional Public Events Hosted by the Berry Center

  • Robert Solow, Nobel Laureate
    Professor of Economics emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    "Low-Wage Work in High-Wage Countries"
  • Kevin Murphy
    George J. Stigler Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
    "The Value of Improvements in Health and Longevity"
  • Robert J. Samuelson
    Washington Post Columnist
    "Europe and the World Economic Crisis" 
  • Yuliya Demyanyk
    Senior research economist, Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland
    "Understanding the Subprime Mortgage Crisis"
  • Jim Walsh
    International security expert, M.I.T.
    "The Iranian Nuclear Program: My Four Dinners with Ahmadinejad"
  • Chris Hansen
    Attorney, American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
    "Patenting the Breast Cancer Gene"
  • General James Cullen
    Former chief judge of the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals
    "Human Rights for Terror Suspects?"

Symposia and Panel Discussions

HOMEGROWN: NATIONAL, STATE and LOCAL PERSPECTIVES ON FOOD POLICY, PANEL DISCUSSION, Fall 2011
  • National Perspective: Fred Kirschenmann
    Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University
  • State Perspective: Francis Thicke
    Iowa Food Policy Council 
  • Local Perspective: Laura Krouse,
    Owner Abbe Hills Farm CSA
FORUM ON HEALTH CARE REFORM, Fall 2009
  • Jason Hockenberry
    Assistant Professor of Health Management and Policy, University of Iowa
  • Peter Cram
    Hospitalist and Physician Researcher, University of Iowa
  • Ted Townsend
    President and CEO, St. Luke's Hospital, Cedar Rapids
APPLIED ECONOMICS SYMPOSIUM, Spring 2009
  • Jane Fortson
    Becker Center Fellow in Price Theory, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago
    "The Economic Consequences of HIV/AIDS"
  • Emily Field
    Assistant Professor of Economics, Harvard University
    "Power of a Pill: Iodine Deficiency, Schooling Attainment, and Economic Development"
FINANCIAL CRISIS IN PERSPECTIVE, PANEL DISCUSSION, Fall 2008
  • Thomas Anderson
    Vice President, Merrill Lynch, Cedar Rapids
  • Mark Zinkula
    U.S. CEO, Legal and General Investment Management
  • Todd Knoop
    Professor, Department of Economics and Business, Cornell College
APPLIED ECONOMICS SYMPOSIUM, Spring 2007
  • Jesse Shapiro
    Assistant Professor of Economics, Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago
    "The Economics of News Media Content"
  • Emily Oster
    Assistant Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, University of Chicago
    "The Economics of HIV/AIDS in Africa"


For more information about public events,
please contact the Associate Director of the Berry Center.