Yale SOM Hosts Second Behavioral Finance Summer School

When the temperature heats up and the days are at their longest, it’s time for kids to head off to summer camp—even if those kids are PhD students. For the second time, Yale SOM recently brought together a select group of doctoral students from leading universities for the weeklong Behavioral Finance Summer School. The program, which ran from June 27 through July 1, offered an intensive introduction to behavioral finance, a field in which Yale SOM has particular expertise, plus a chance to interact with top researchers in the field and other students interested in the subject matter.

The summer school was created by two prominent Yale SOM faculty members: Nicholas C. Barberis, the Stephen & Camille Schramm Professor of Finance, and Robert J. Shiller, the Arthur M. Okun Professor of Economics. They were joined by six other top professors in the field to teach the various aspects of the coursework, including two Yale SOM faculty, James Choi, associate professor of finance, and William Goetzmann, Edwin J. Beinecke Professor of Finance and Management Studies. Sessions focused on behavioral finance itself (taught by Barberis), the role of behavioral economics in the financial crisis (Shiller), household finance (Choi), financial history (Goetzmann), and how understanding the behavior of crowds can illuminate the study of finance (Kent Daniel, Columbia Business School).

Andrew Sinclair, a Yale PhD candidate who participated in the program, says that the benefits of the summer school extended well beyond the sessions, as Shiller and Barberis built in time for people to get to know one another. "This time allowed students to share and discuss research ideas with some of the most promising young scholars in the field," he says. "From this, more than just professional bonds were formed—friendships were forged that will impact the future course of behavioral finance research."

Barberis says that the first summer school ran in 2009 and that he and Shiller were so pleased with its success, they decided to hold it every two years. "The program requires a lot of work of all the faculty and staff involved, but we're glad to make the effort because there seems to be strong demand for the program—the number of applications far exceeds the number of available spots," he says. "Perhaps the most satisfying part of the program is seeing the enthusiasm with which the students discuss and debate research ideas, whether during class, or over lunch, coffee, or dinner. A number of research projects have had their origins in student conversations at the summer school, and there's not much more that Bob or I could ask for."