Tung’s self-designed major prepared him for a fully-funded Cornell University Ph.D. program.
Tung is a self-designed mathematics and economics major from Hanoi, Vietnam, who deeply values and invests in his education. “In developing countries there is a huge movement of students coming to the U.S. for higher education,” he said. “GMC really stood out to me as an institution that placed great emphasis upon environmental issues and I am happy to find out that I was not wrong.”
While mathematics and economics are both majors not offered in GMC’s undergraduate program, Tung has created and overseen his own major with the aid of Kenneth Mulder, Green Mountain College’s assistant professor of mathematics and director of quantitative literacy. With the self-designed program, he designed his own curriculum and schedule. “As a freshman, I did not really know what I wanted to do. I signed up for the sustainable business major, thinking it was a good idea to make money and save the world at the same time. After the banking crisis in Vietnam emerged in 2011 and soon crippled the country’s economy, I found myself deeply interested in the subject of economics,” he said.
He took macroeconomics with now-retired professor of economics Paul Hancock. At the same time he took math courses. “Kenneth Mulder has been a vital part of my education here,” he said, “and Paul Hancock, too. They were both major influences on my decisions.”
Over the summer of 2014, Tung interned with a National-Science-Foundation-sponsored environmental economics project at the University of Rhode Island. The research focused on coordination failure among polluters in a nonpoint pollution setting. “The idea is that based on the ambient level of pollution measured throughout a watershed, polluters are punished or rewarded for what they collectively do instead of individually, which is impossible to monitor,” he said. “If the total level of emission from everyone exceeds a certain standard, all will be charged. It sounds simple but actually gives rise to many other problems.”
He is still working on the research as a co-author with three other faculty members at URI—the group just finalized the theoretical design of their economic experiment. “We expect to have final data and hopefully a draft of the paper by the end of the year,” he said. “It will be submitted for a journal in environmental economics.”
On top of his rigorous course load, internship work, and self-reliant efforts, Tung tutors mathematics and economics in the Calhoun Learning Center. After graduating from GMC in May, Tung will attend Cornell University on a fully funded Ph.D. assistantship in applied economics.