Yale School of Management

Conference Insights: Economic Development Symposium

Each year, students at the Yale School of Management organize conferences that convene leaders in a range of industries. We asked the organizers of the annual Economic Development Symposium to share the key insights they took away from the experience.

May 7, 2019
Co-chair: Vicky Zhang ’20

The Yale School of Management hosted its annual Economic Development Symposium on February 15 at Evans Hall. The event brought together senior thought leaders, practitioners, and investors from all sectors who are interested in fostering social impact through economic development.

This year’s symposium highlighted ideas in the field, including opportunity zones, the AmazonHQ Contest, the future of work in the digital age, community wealth building, and infrastructure public-private partnerships.

Here are three lessons I learned from the symposium:

Redefine Impact: The symposium made me recognize that there are communities all around us that need development, and there are different ways that daily actions and interactions can help create equitable societies and increase the quality of life for citizens.

Reframe Conversations: When it comes to topics about gender, we should look to involve everyone in the discussion and try to reframe it as a conversation about family and not just focus our attention on empowering women. Changes to paternity leave and stigma around men staying at home can have just as much impact on gender equality in the workplace as some initiatives that are focused on women. 

Reexamine spending: Development projects often get a significant amount of funding from NGOs and government agencies. The symposium workshop on the science of scaling policy interventions taught me that if something isn’t working, you shouldn’t just spend more money. Instead, look for reasons why your thesis isn’t producing the expected results and change what you are doing. By taking a more data-driven and methodical approach to development, you make better use of your monetary resources and time.

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