From Jamaican Roots to Growing up with Kaizen, USD Professor of Economics Jason Campbell is Bringing New Perspectives to the Classroom

Tuesday, April 23, 2019TOPICS: Spotlights

USD School of Business Assistant Professor of Economics Jason Campbell sits in his office chair looking up at his memorabilia of FC Barcelona soccer gear and Bob's Burgers posterProfessor Jason Campbell engages his students during a presentation
begin quoteAlready, my students have made me a much better educator. Hopefully, we’ll continue learning from each other for a long time.

Originally from Jamaica, Assistant Professor of Economics Jason Campbell moved to the U.S. at age 18 to pursue his undergraduate studies in economics and mathematics at Austin College. After completing his Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University, he joined USD and our esteemed faculty team last fall. New to San Diego, he’s eager to explore the city and use his extensive knowledge of economics to develop the business acumen of his students. Meet Professor Campbell.

Making a Mark on Economics

Professor Campbell’s research focuses on international trade, applied microeconomics, and applied econometrics. But beyond that, his goal in his research and teaching is to facilitate the development of informed and engaged citizens.

“I hope to contribute to the field of economics on three fronts: scholarship, teaching, and service,” shares Campbell. “With respect to scholarship, I hope that my work elucidates our understanding of how firms interact on the international stage and the mechanisms which govern their responses to policy. Through my teaching, my main goal is to stimulate critical thinking. Learning the assumptions and predictions of various theoretical models is great. However, economics is an applied science. The ability to interrogate assumptions and to evaluate the validity of these models in real-world scenarios is even better. Through service, I hope to preserve the academic integrity of my field, to collaborate with the USD campus, and to assimilate within the wider San Diego community.”

A Lesson in Kaizen

Everyone’s personal journey is guided by a person that mentors them, inspires them, and motivates them. For Campbell, this role was fulfilled by his mother, Sandra Crooks. “From a very young age, she impressed on me the value of a good education. She also taught me kaizen; the Japanese concept of continual self-improvement,” recalls Campbell fondly. “She is a perennial supporter of all my endeavors and I credit her for my accomplishments today.”

Before forgetting, he adds, “AND honorable mention to my wife, Meghan Campbell. I could not have finished graduate school without her and my quality of life would be substantially lower in her absence.”

“USD Stood Out as My Top Choice”

Campbell accepted a highly sought after teaching position at the USD School of Business right after completing his Ph.D. program at Vanderbilt University. “In doing my due diligence and researching various institutions, USD stood out as my top choice,” shares Campbell. “I did my undergraduate studies at a liberal arts school and preferred smaller class sizes. I liked the course offerings, the role for advising students, the emphasis on service, the comprehensive approach to earning a degree, as well as the emphasis on producing compassionate citizens.”

“I really like my peers at the USD School of Business,” continues Campbell. “They made my transition to USD seamless and the students make teaching fun. Less than a year into my time at USD, it’s clear that I made the right choice.”

Applied Economics in Action

Now that Campbell has been teaching at the USD School of Business for nearly a year, he considers how he will make an impact on his students. “I try to keep my course content as current as possible, so many of my examples or exam questions require an analysis of contemporary events using economic tools,” says Campbell. “I also assign semester presentations which grant students agency in selecting a topic and evaluating their selection using economic theory.”

If there’s one lesson that he hopes students take away from his courses, it’s that people respond to incentives. Campbell elaborates, “often when incentives change, so will observed behavior.”

The Economics Principle We Should All Know

While economics may seem like a field reserved for those with a high intellectual capacity, there are principles that even an economics novice can understand and would benefit from knowing. Campbell makes it clear that the one economics principle we should all know is comparative advantage, an intuitive concept which states that people should pursue the things that they are relatively good at.

“We can apply this concept to infinite scenarios and, whether consciously or subconsciously, we use it to organize most group activities,” explains Campbell. “We tend to delegate each task to those relatively suited to complete it. It’s also useful outside of a group setting. For an individual student, the concept might help inform their time management. If you’re prepping for a class or exam, spend more time on the things that are relatively more challenging. Remember, Kaizen!”

What’s Next?

Just under a year ago, Professor Campbell was getting his feet wet here at the USD School of Business. Now that he’s almost completed his first year of teaching, he shares the one thing he didn’t expect from this job when he accepted the position. “I’ve had to be very dynamic in my lectures and teaching styles,” revealed Campbell.

“Initially, I planned all my class sessions before the semester started. However, after attending some of the USD Center for Educational Excellence’s workshops and soliciting feedback from my students, I’ve adjusted the structure and content delivery mechanisms for my courses,” continues Campbell. “USD has very talented students but these students learn in different ways. This means I’ve had to learn how to teach in different ways. Already, my students have made me a much better educator. Hopefully, we’ll continue learning from each other for a long time.”


Renata Ramirez
(619) 260-4658