Winter Institute - Innovative Economics

Speakers and Presenters

Feb. 7-8, 2019

Immigration Explored

George Borjas

George Borjas
George J. Borjas is the Robert W. Scrivner Professor of Economics and Social Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. He was awarded the IZA Prize in Labor Economics in 2011.

Professor Borjas is a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and a Research Fellow at IZA. Professor Borjas is the author of several books, including "Immigration Economics" (Harvard University Press, 2014), "Heaven's Door: Immigration Policy and the American Economy" (Princeton University Press, 1999), and the widely used textbook "Labor Economics" (McGraw-Hill, 2016), now in its seventh edition.

His latest book is "We Wanted Workers: Unraveling the Immigration Narrative", published by W. W. Norton in Fall 2016. He has also published over 150 articles in books and scholarly journals. His professional honors include citations in "Who's Who in the World" and "Who's Who in America".

Professor Borjas was elected a fellow of the Econometric Society in 1998 and a fellow of the Society of Labor Economists in 2004. In 2016, "Politico" listed Professor Borjas No. 17 in the list of the 50 "thinkers, doers and visionaries transforming American politics ... For telling it like it really is on immigration." He received his Ph.D. in economics from Columbia University in 1975.

Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan

Bryan Caplan is Professor of Economics at George Mason University and blogger for EconLog. He is the author of The Myth of the Rational Voter, named "the best political book of the year" by the New York Times, Selfish Reasons to Have More Kids, and The Case Against Education. Caplan is currently collaborating with Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal’s Zach Weinersmith on Open Borders: The Science and Ethics of Immigration, a non-fiction graphic novel on the philosophy and social science of immigration, and writing a new book, Poverty: Who To Blame.

Kao Kalia Yang

Kao Kalia Yang

"Yang powerfully demonstrates that much of what society doesn’t hold valuable— talents that don’t translate into monetary or educational success—still carry immense value." — Library Journal

Kao Kalia Yang is a Hmong-American author, film-maker, and teacher; she is also a cofounder of ‘Words Wanted,’ a company dedicated to helping immigrants with writing, translating, and business services. Her writing and speaking is passionate and eloquent as she seeks to deepen the understanding of the human condition in order to garner more compassion in the world. 

Kalia was born in Ban Vinai Refugee Camp in 1980; she and her family came to Minnesota as refugees in the summer of 1987, and her first book, The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir, reflects upon this move. It is a first-hand account of the journey that many Hmong people had to make from place to place in order to find ‘home. A review by Publishers Weekly praises Kalia, “Yang tells her family's story with grace; she narrates their struggles, beautifully weaving in Hmong folklore and culture.” It is the first Hmong-authored book to gain national distribution from a literary press, the only book to have ever garnered two Minnesota Book Awards, the best selling book in Coffee House Press History, and earned a NEA Big Read title. 

Her latest, The Song Poet: A Memoir of my Father, is the first Hmong book to ever receive national recognition and representation. Jane Hamilton-Merritt proclaims that Kalia’s writing “allows us to hear the whispered sorrows and hopes of those transplanted onto foreign soil among strangers.” 

When she’s not in front of an audience inspiring social change and awareness, Kalia raises twin sons that keep her and her husband busy at their home in Minneapolis.  

James Bullard '84

James Bullard

James “Jim” Bullard is the president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. In that role, he is a participant on the Federal Reserve’s Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC), which meets regularly to set the direction of U.S. monetary policy. He also oversees the Federal Reserve’s Eighth District, including activities at the St. Louis headquarters and its branches in Little Rock, Ark., Louisville, Ky., and Memphis, Tenn.

Bullard is a noted economist and scholar, and his positions are founded on research-based thinking and an intellectual openness to new theories and explanations. He is often an early voice for change. Of note:

  • In 2016, Bullard announced a new approach for the St. Louis Fed’s near-term U.S. macroeconomic and monetary policy projections. The new approach is based on the idea that the economy may experience one of several possible persistent regimes, which involve a combination of recession or no recession, high or low productivity growth, and high or low real returns on government debt. While switches between regimes are possible, they are difficult to forecast. This contrasts with the more traditional approach to monetary policy projections, which assumes that the economy will converge to one single, long-run steady state.
  • Earlier in his tenure, Bullard warned about the possibility of a Japanese-style deflation in the U.S. His paper on this topic, published in 2010, helped move the FOMC’s thinking toward a second round of quantitative easing.
  • He has argued strongly that the timing of monetary policy decisions, including interest rate policy or the pace of asset purchases, should be driven by incoming data on the state of the economy as opposed to the calendar.
  • During the financial crisis, Bullard also advocated for establishing an explicit inflation target, which the FOMC has since adopted. And he has argued that the Committee should defend the target when inflation is below as well as above it.
  • In 2008, Bullard was an early voice on the potential consequences of zero-interest-rate policy. He argued that the Fed may need to turn to quantitative measures of monetary policy in order to avoid deflation.

Bullard makes public outreach and dialogue a priority to help build a more transparent and accessible Fed. He regularly engages with many audiences—including academics, policymakers, business and labor organizations, charities, students and media, among other public groups—to discuss monetary policy and the U.S. economy and to help further the regional Reserve banks’ role of being the voice of Main Street.

Bullard is active in the community. He serves on the board of trustees of the United Way U.S.A. and the board of directors of the St. Louis Regional Chamber. In addition, he is a member of the Greater St. Louis Financial Forum and the St. Cloud State University School of Public Affairs advisory council. He is co-editor of the Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, and a member of the Central Bank Research Association’s senior council. He is an honorary professor of economics at Washington University in St. Louis, where he also sits on the advisory council of the economics department as well as several advisory boards. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch named him the Top Workplace Leader among the region’s large employers as part of its 2018 Top Workplace Awards.

A native of Forest Lake, Minn., Bullard received his doctorate in economics from Indiana University in Bloomington. He holds Bachelor of Science degrees in economics and in quantitative methods and information systems from St. Cloud State University in St. Cloud, Minn.

Mynul Khan '04

Mynul Khan

Mynul Khan founded Field Nation in 2008 when he identified a need for a contingent workforce platform.  With a background in programming and data analysis, as well as an affinity for growth hacking, his experience drives Field Nation’s growth strategy and motivates him to grow the Field Nation team.

Khan has a bachelor's degree in computer science and is actively involved in technology decisions as well as strategy direction. Today, Khan focuses on aggressive company growth and expanding opportunities around the world through regional partnerships and local incubators.

Sangeeta Jha

Sangeeta Jha

Sangeeta Jha is originally from India. She came to the United States as a graduate student in 1986. 

Jha is a faculty member at St. Cloud Technical & Community College. She joined SCTCC in 2011 after nearly 10 years of teaching sociology and anthropology at St. Cloud State University.

She teaches sociology, anthropology, gerontology and women’s studies. Besides teaching, she serves on several committees, associations and organizations, both on and off the college campus.

Jha holds dual Bachelor of Arts degrees (Honors) in sociology and education; dual master’s degrees in sociology and anthropology, and a doctorate in sociology. She loves and enjoys teaching, reading and cooking. She is a proud mother of beautiful twin daughters. 

Marla Kanengieter

Marla Kanengieter

Marla Kanengieter, Ph.D., is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies at St. Cloud State University where she teaches courses in rhetoric, persuasion, and public discourse She recently served as co-coordinator of the SCSU American Democracy Project, an initiative of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) that focuses “on public higher education’s role in preparing the next generation of informed, engaged citizens for our democracy” ( Her teaching-scholarly interests include dialogue and deliberation as methods of democratic practice to address complex public problems. She most recently participated in numerous research exchanges on deliberative pedagogy at the Kettering Foundation in Dayton, OH.


Eddah Mbula Mutua

Eddah Mutua

Dr. Eddah Mbula Mutua is a Professor of Intercultural Communication at St. Cloud State University, Minnesota. She teaches in the area of intercultural communication. Her research focuses on peace communication in post-conflict societies in Eastern Africa with a special interest in the role of women in post-genocide Rwanda and grassroots peacebuilding initiatives in Kenya. In the U.S., her areas of research include East African refugee and host communities’ interactions in Central Minnesota, Africans and African-Americans relations, and critical service-learning as a pedagogical practice in peace education.

Her work in peace communication and education has received national and international recognition. She coordinates a nationally recognized award-winning service-learning project that brings together university and high school students in Central Minnesota, U.S and Kajiado, Kenya to dialogue about peaceful co-existence in diverse communities and a global world.

Her publications appear in Qualitative Inquiry, Africa Media Review, African Yearbook of Rhetoric, Women & Language, Text and Performance Quarterly and several edited intercultural books. She is the Co-Editor of The Rhetorical Legacy of Wangari Maathai: Planting the future (2018). Lanham: Lexington Books.

She has received many awards for her work including the highest faculty research award at St. Cloud State University, The Hellervick Prize, Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Diversity and Equity Awards’ “New Innovative Practices in Diversity Award” and Minnesota Campus Compact Presidents’ Engagement Steward Award.