I recently had the opportunity to attend the Eastern Economic Association’s annual conference in Montego Bay, Jamaica with Dan Krill, another International Scholar.

I chose to attend this conference to better understand how interdisciplinary a field in academia can be, and to better understand the process of conducting and presenting research to peers with similar backgrounds and interests. The conference was composed of themed sessions held in close proximity geographically and chronologically, but choosing the ones I wanted to attend was made easy by their general themes. These breakout sessions facilitated room to talk more intimately and in depth about the topics that were presented. Dan and I attended presentations and participated in conversations concerning COVID-19ʼs disruption of online shopping habits, the adoption of real-time public transit information on Google Maps, the use of machine learning to identify illegal mining sites, and the stratification of undergraduates along majors.

I found the discussion portion of the conference exceptionally beneficial to my understanding of topics and towards helping me discern which topics were most interesting to me. We were lucky enough to begin these discussions at the introductory dinner, where we sat with several professors from different universities in different concentrations. I was also able to hear world renowned sports economist Brad Humphreys speak on his research Professional Sports Subsidies and Urban Congestion Externalities: A Reassessment of 50 Years of Failed Urban Economic Policies. This presentation was interesting because it dove into a topic I had never given much thought through detailed analysis.

Of particular interest to me during the conference was the presentation surrounding online shopping habit changes during COVID-19. I was grateful to hear about disruptions in typical shopping habits, as I know I want to write my senior thesis focusing on consumerism especially in the fast fashion industry. Being present to ask my own questions and listen to a professor’s analysis of online shopping behaviors was extremely beneficial for understanding my greatest interests and understanding where I would like to start when gathering information for my senior thesis. There were also questions posed that had never occurred to me from professors participating in the discourse that followed.