Economics: Accessible and… Inspiring?

Six alumni celebrate publication of book they wrote as Loyola students

By April Arnold  |  Photo by Nick Alexopulos, '03

Debates on immigration policy and financial reform were the norm for a kid growing up in the Walters household.

John Walters, ’09, enjoyed these conversations with his father, Stephen J.K. Walters, Ph.D., professor of economics, and eventually with his fellow students. These conversations inspired John to want to publish a book that would make economics more accessible to a general audience.

“For most people outside of an economics classroom, discussing financial and political issues is like starting a dialogue mid-way through a conversation,” said John.

That book became Econversations: Today’s Students Discuss Today’s Issues, released in July.

But it started as an idea for an independent study course for John, Christopher Appel, ’09; Crystal Callahan, ’09; Nicholas Centanni, ’10; Steven Maex, ’10; and Daniel O’Neill, ’09. The goal was to write and publish an evidence-based book on economics from the student perspective.

“We wanted to make the book accessible and use economic tools to bring those holding opposing viewpoints toward some common ground,” said John.

The students organized the book to progress through topics such as trade, international business, and ethics, similar to textbooks used in introductory economics courses but with a student voice.

“Project Mexico through CCSJ (Center for Community Service and Justice) and my study abroad in Spain gave me economic perspectives for my chapter on immigration,” said Daniel O’Neill, ’09, who now works at First Annapolis Consulting in Linthicum, Md.

The summer following the course Nicholas Centanni, ’10, was working at an internship with Pearson publishing company and passed a draft of the book along to his superiors.

By early 2010 Pearson had signed a contract with the students. Over the next two years, Steve worked with Pearson and the students to finalize revisions.

“We had worked so hard putting the book together and when we packaged it up, it was really our baby,” O’Neill said. “You had to develop a thick skin.”

Since the book’s publication, the authors have been passing it along to friends and family who aren’t usually quick to pick up books on this topic.

“It’s interesting that people who think they don’t know anything about economics find the opposite is true when they just learn more of the basics,” said Steven Maex, ’10, who now works in accounting at KPMG in Baltimore.

O’Neill attributes the book’s success to the professor who guided the group along the way. “Professor Walters was an invaluable resource,” O’Neill said. “He really stuck by us through each revision and made us feel comfortable through the process.”

The alumni share their thoughts on how to get published here.

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