Doctor of Philosophy
University of Chicago
Master of Philosophy
International and Development Economics
Bachelor of Science
How government policies can improve the living conditions of the poor has been at the core of Uzma Qureshi’s interest in economics. As a student, she focused on understanding the industrialization efforts of poor countries as they tried to raise the average incomes of their residents. As an international development consultant, she spent time in Pakistan working with small businesses and poor households to understand their financial constraints and investment choices. As an instructor, she loves to engage her students in discussions of public policies relating to social welfare.
According to Qureshi, young college students tend to be naturally interested in questions relating to social justice and the field of economics equips students with excellent tools to address such questions. She leverages her experience from other countries to push students to debate hard questions without getting too rooted in domestic polarized positions. Exposing students to the different ways in which the same issues may be addressed in different cultures broadens minds to appreciate diversity while simultaneously reaffirming our common humanity. Qureshi believes that community college students, given their diverse and often difficult paths to a college education, bring especially interesting experiences and insights to such discussions.
A comparative study of different educational systems across countries and their relation to student success is another area that sparks Qureshi’s interest. The politicization of public education, combined with our increasing focus on short-run benefits and quick fixes without paying due attention to long-run costs, has resulted in an increase of “best practice” fads. Getting students involved in questions of educational policy, discussing pros and cons of different assessment tools and modes of instruction, allows them to appreciate their own agency in the education process. In addition, it allows Qureshi to reinforce two very important ideas that she hopes will guide her students in their future lives: 1) most things in life come with costs, and the rational approach is to learn how to balance these with the benefits; and 2) the long run matters.