Upon the successful completion of the GO Policy Paper Project, the student authors gathered for an awards dinner in Reid Campus Center. The event gave them the opportunity to present a brief overview of their papers to an audience that included the project's namesake benefactor George Osborne '66, center. With him, from left to right, are Jan Crouter, associate professor of economics; Alexander Zendeh '12; Denise Hazlett, professor of economics; Corinne Andriola '12; Shanglun "Shaun" Wang '13; Pete Parcells, associate professor of economics, and Margaret "Spring" Lonneker '11.

From the economic impact of immigration legislation in Arizona to the pros and cons of implementing a value-added federal tax, several Whitman students had the opportunity to spend the summer and fall of 2010 deeply examining specific economic policy issues as they participated in the GO Policy Paper Project (GOPPP). An extracurricular learning experience funded by Whitman Overseer George Osborne '66, the project resulted in four economic policy papers written by students under the guidance of three faculty mentors.

The GOPPP provided a stipend for both students and faculty advisers, fostering several months of collaborative examination and dissection of selected policies. Jan Crouter, associate professor of economics, Denise Hazlett, professor of economics, and Pete Parcells, associate professor of economics, served as the project's advisers, enabling four students to explore current policy issues and write in-depth papers that asserted, critically analyzed and supported positions on their chosen topics.

“Not only did this project expose me to economic literature of policymaking, it also reaffirmed my belief in economics as an essential tool for understanding and improving the world.”
— Shanglun “Shaun”
Wang ’13

Participating students and topics included Corinne Andriola '12, "The Case for Implementing a Value-Added Tax in the United States"; Shanglun "Shaun" Wang '13, "The Case Against the Value-Added Tax"; Margaret "Spring" Lonneker '11, "Arizona's Senate Bill 1070; A Good Immigration Policy?"; and Alexander Zendeh '12, "Energy Security and Ethanol Policy."

"These aren't traditional research papers. These are policy papers," Parcells said. "Each paper represents a slightly different style of writing. Some are theoretical, others are more empirical, but each one investigates a specific economic issue and offers a well-supported position."

The project began in May 2010 when each student chose a faculty adviser and asked them to review and approve a detailed proposal of their papers. Included in each proposal was a description of their chosen policy issue, an annotated bibliography and a list of past and current economics courses.   

Osborne — as founder, CEO and president of Kirkland, Washington-based Osborne Construction — depends on expert analysis of the key economic indicators that affect his company. Hoping to impart the value of this type of interpretation and reporting to Whitman students, he reached out to the college's economics faculty to propose the creation of a special project focused on developing and writing economic policy position papers. The result was a framework for the GOPPP, designed to hone the analytic thinking skills of participating students while offering practical experience with presenting complicated concepts in an easily comprehensible format.

"This is a powerful example of how a donor's gift can advance the academic experience of students and help shape their Whitman educations," said John Bogley '85, vice president for development and college relations.

"The GOPPP experience was immensely valuable to me. It allowed me to apply the concepts I learned in the classroom to a real-world issue," said Wang, whose paper argued against implementation of the value-added tax.

"Not only did this project expose me to economic literature of policymaking, it also reaffirmed my belief in economics as an essential tool for understanding and improving the world."

For more, see the George Osborne Policy Paper Project website.