Faculty Focus: New Economist Focuses on Latin America

Dylan B. Fitz joined the faculty this semester as assistant professor of economics, with a specialty in Latin American Studies. He earned his undergraduate degree from Princeton University and a doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studied agriculture and development economics.

Fitz's research interests include the diverse causes of poverty, the potential impacts and limitations of anti-poverty programs, risk, learning and technology adoption. This semester, he is teaching intermediate microeconomics; in the spring, he will teach a new course titled "Latin American Economic Development," as well as co-teach a course titled "Introduction to Latin American Studies."

Fitz's undergraduate senior thesis focused on the Zero Hunger Project in Brazil, which was launched in October 2001. The project intends to put into action the Brazilian government's promise of access to food for all citizens by providing financial and educational resources, and support for family farming initiatives.

Fitz said that traveling through Brazil as a student was an eye-opening experience, and his interest in the country led him to write his dissertation on poverty in rural northern Brazil. At Davidson he will continue to research poverty in Brazil.

As an economist, Fitz said he also recognizes opportunities to apply his expertise closer to home.

"Economics helps me in trying to make rational and optimal decisions," he said. "And studying poverty problems globally has given me a good look into local issues as well."

Fitz, who is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish, initially did not want to follow in the footsteps of his father, a professor of Portuguese language. "I thought to become an academic and to teach implied having to do homework your entire life," he said. But, Fitz increasingly enjoyed his own schooling and finally came to the realization that he wanted to teach.

A newly minted professor, Fitz said he tries to apply daily a mentor's advice about classroom teaching – "Just stay true to your own style. Try to be yourself and have a good balance between information and humor."

Outside of the classroom, Fitz enjoys running, as well as playing and watching soccer. He also indulges in reading related to his discipline but notes that Old Man and the Sea has always been his favorite book.


  • November 11, 2013