Economics Professor Nathan Nunn Earns Tenure

Economics professor Nathan J. Nunn, whose research focuses on developmental economics and economic history, earned tenure last month.

Though an offer of tenure usually ensures that a faculty member will remain at Harvard for many years, Nunn’s future at Harvard is uncertain as he has also been offered a tenured position at Stanford University.

“I was pleased,” Nunn said about his offer from Harvard.

Nunn, a native Canadian who received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 2005, said that both Stanford and Harvard are “fantastic places” and he will accept the offer from the university he feels offers the best research environment.

Nunn is one of three young professors in the economics department to receive an offer of tenure in recent years.

“In terms of internal promotions, that’s a little bit of a boom,” Department Chair John Y. Campbell said about the recent promotion of junior faculty members.

Nunn began teaching at Harvard as an assistant professor in July 2007.

“Harvard was too good of an opportunity to pass up,” said Nunn, who is also a faculty research fellow for the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Nunn’s research focuses on the long-term economic effects of the African slave trade.

Nunn currently teaches an undergraduate course titled “Poverty and Development” as well as graduate courses and seminars about economic history.

Nunn said that he was attracted to the theory of economic development because he often wondered “why some areas are more prosperous than others.”

After taking an undergraduate level course with Nunn, Manning Ding ’12, an economics concentrator and inactive Crimson news editor, asked him to advise her thesis and enrolled in his graduate level class.

Ding said that Nunn inspires his students “to think about academia and economic development.”

“He’s not only a brilliant researcher but also someone you can talk to,” she added.

Ding said that Nunn, with his ability to connect with students, is an asset to the Harvard community.

“He’s definitely great to have around Harvard,” she  said. “I hope he will stay at Harvard so that many more students will have the opportunity to benefit from his invaluable mentorship.”

—Staff writer Nikita Kansra can be reached at

—Staff writer Sabrina A. Mohamed can be reached at