William Nordhaus ’63 B.A., ’72 M.A., Sterling Professor of Economics, entered his classroom at Dunham Laboratory Monday morning to a burst of uproarious applause.
Hours earlier, Nordhaus learned that he had been awarded the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences. He would not allow the exciting news to interfere with his commitment to his undergraduates in intermediate macroeconomics.
“Congratulations Prof. Nordhaus” was written in big letters on the blackboard in classroom 220. A student handed the newly minted Nobel laureate a bouquet of flowers. Others took pictures with their smart phones.
“Special rule for today: You can have your cell phones,” he said to laughter once the cheers had subsided. “As Yale students and faculty you learn how to deal with distractions. Don’t let anyone distract you from the work at hand, which is economic growth. Maybe I’ll say more later, but were you just talking about quiz two?”
Nordhaus is a pioneer in the economic analysis of climate change. He received the Nobel for “integrating climate change into long-run macroeconomic analysis,” according to the prize citation. He shared the honor with Paul Romer, professor of economics at New York University’s Leonard N. Stern School of Business.
The students said they were proud of their teacher.
“It’s very exciting and so tangible that we have access to very distinguished faculty,” said Fausto Hernandez, a sophomore. “His teaching style every day is so humble and so approachable — in fact, uniquely approachable. It really speaks to his ability as an educator and researcher. The way in which he understands very complex concepts and explains them so simply is wonderful. Every time we come to class my understanding of economics improves so much.”
Amanda Zhang, a sophomore, said it is exciting to have the opportunity to learn from a world-renowned economist and added that Nordhaus has a gift for teaching.
“I was nervous about taking this class because I didn’t consider myself someone who had a very strong background in economics, but he has been doing a really great job of explaining the basics and getting people interested in the material,” Zhang said.