Economics and philosophy work together for Nudge Unit VP

G raduating economics student, Brandon Pascali, is excited to step into his next educational opportunity—and for good reason.

The undergraduate student is jumping into a macroeconomics Ph.D. program at Emory University in Atlanta, with a full tuition, $70,000-a-year scholarship.

Pascali credits the offer to his hard work at Georgia College & State University, where he minored in mathematics, scored very well on the Graduate Record Examinations and served in the GC Nudge Unit—a behavioral economics team.
“It feels good to have a lot of hard work rewarded,” Pascali said. “My goals are education based. I want to teach the future generation nuanced tools for answering tough questions and help them think more critically about the economy.”

That’s what he does for the Nudge Unit, where Pascali and a team of economics students help groups on campus solve problems with psychological insight. Right now, they’re working with the Learning Center to increase attendance. Data proves visiting the center improves GPA.

Brandon wants to model his economics professors for the next generation.
Brandon wants to model his economics professors for the next generation.

Q: Who do you want to be: as a professor and as a person?

A: I didn’t realize this before—it developed here at Georgia College—but I genuinely love learning. Wherever I end up, I hope I’m able to continue taking classes on the side. My linear algebra professor takes piano lessons, and my philosophy professor is getting a second master’s degree. 

When I’m a professor, I still want to be developing myself and learning. I don’t ever want to be complacent, or get to a point in my life where I say I’m done growing.

Q: Tell me about the faculty who have informed the teacher you want to be.

A: The professors here extremely influenced my goals and where I want to go, because they’re so supportive. They all have open-door policies for asking questions, and they’re always giving advice to prepare you for grad school, the job market and anything else you need. 

Ideally, I would want to do that for somebody else in the future and be that person who helps them stay on track.

Q: How did you end up in economics?

A: I transferred from Mercer University, where I started as a physics major and transferred on kind of a whim. Economics has a human element that physics lacks, and asks normative questions like ‘What should we do?’ I like thinking about that kind of stuff. 

I like philosophy, as well, and philosophy asks a lot of broad questions. It gives you tools to think about the world in different ways, and that supplements the ethical side of economics. It helps you decide how you should act in the absence of other guiding principles.