Faculty Profile: Professor Becky Haney, economics

Economic professor Becky Haney will lead the Rehoboth Bridge Semester in New Mexico.
Economic professor Becky Haney will lead the Rehoboth Bridge Semester in New Mexico.

CREDENTIALS: PhD in economics, University of Chicago; MDiv, Duke Seminary
OFF THE CLOCK: Loves playing in the park with 2-year-old son, Micco
GUILTY PLEASURE: Buttery popcorn and an action movie in the middle of the day

On paper, it may seem strange to tap an economics profes- sor to lead the Rehoboth Bridge Semester—a program that revolves around cultures, geography, sociology, service and Native American history. But Professor Becky Haney is just the woman for the job.

For the past few years, Haney has taught a class on crossing cultures that focuses on the Native American experience. For her, the topic is personal: Prior to teaching at Calvin, Haney spent five years as a pastor to at-risk teens in a Native American community in Oklahoma. And her husband, a Native American, works in ministry to tribal members in Michigan.

When the Rehoboth opportunity came up, she jumped at the chance.“I am really excited to see this course on cultures come alive and be taught in a community setting where the students will literally be part of the ongoing story of Christian life in Indian country.”

Why she loves teaching at Calvin

“There is a wide variety of backgrounds and personalities here, but the common thread is a love of God and neighbor. I enjoy talking with students who care about the world around them and helping them discover their place in it.”


Among other adventures, she has gone dog sledding in Alaska, backpacked through Europe and ridden a camel to see the sun rise over Mount Sinai.“I’ve seen in my own life how much the fresh perspective of a new place can expand one’s understanding of God, God’s creation and one’s self.”


Professor Haney studies how differences in cultural values affect the economic well-being of future generations. She helped develop a computer simulation program called Societies (similar to “SimCity”). By tweaking different cultural aspects of a society, such as selfishness, the program shows what happens to wealth, inequality and sustainability over many generations.


“I relate easily to students who see themselves as a little outside the norm, so my office can be a safe space for them. I also take seriously the privilege of praying with students when they are struggling. I want to help those on the fringes of social groups realize that we’re all made in the image of God.”

VERGE: winter 2012

First-Year Experience