EEA Award for Innovation in Teaching

The 2023 EEA Award for Innovation in Teaching has been announced and presented to:

Wheeler Institute for Business and Development at London Business School for the African History through the lens of Economics lecture series.

Over 27,000 people from over 160 countries and 1,000 universities and academic institutions participated in the African History through the Lens of Economics online course developed by London Business School’s Wheeler Institute for Business and Development.
The course, the first of its kind, delivered as an open-access learning experience, combined insights into cutting-edge research on African economic history and political economy. It brought together a large, diverse, and engaged community of individuals worldwide to learn evidence-based practices to address Africa’s challenges. Remarkably, 77% were drawn from the African Continent.
The core teaching team – Elias Papaioannou, Professor of Economics, London Business School, who led the course development, Stelios Michalopoulos, Eastman Professor of Economics, Brown University, Nathan Nunn, Frederic E. Abbe Professor of Economics, Harvard University, and Leonard Wantchekon, Maddison Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University – was joined by close to thirty guest speakers and twenty collaborators who acted as moderators and teaching assistants. Besides, the team, working with doctoral students from London Business School, Brown University, and the University of Zambia, run review sessions, delving into the material, addressing technical issues, and going over research ideas.
The course took the attendees on a journey through the history of Africa, addressing subjects such as precolonial political and social organizations, the slave trades, the 'Scramble for Africa’, colonisation, and independence movements. The course presented both historical and modern datasets, including geospatial data, archival material, anthropological maps, and social narratives, discussing in depth how researchers across social sciences can use these sources. The course offered several opportunities to highlight interdisciplinary research in areas such as the legacy of private concessionary companies during colonization, Christian missionaries, prison labor, colonial tax policies, the impact of foreign aid, the psychology of Africans, and the future of Africa.
African History through the Lens of Economics drew on the core teaching team research, as well as Elias Papaioannou’s ongoing research project on African colonisation, funded by a European Research Council Consolidator Grant and supported by the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR) and the Structural Transformation and Economic Growth (STEG) Initiative. It offered an unparalleled opportunity to hear from various academics at various stages of their careers and from different institutions.

Motivation from Award Committee:: The panel were impressed with the Wheeler Institute’s "African History through the lens of Economics" project and with the large number of people that the project has reached and could potentially impact. It has already reached over 25 thousand people across many countries and the unique contribution it brings to the economics profession and accessibility of economics research was considered to be hugely valuable by the awarding panel.


  • Andrés Maroto, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid for the Digital Educational Escape Rooms (DEER) for teaching Economic Theory in the Higher Education.
    Several academic works have been published in recent years that examine the impact of gamification on motivation or learning outcomes in higher education. The proliferation of novel technologies and the dawn of e-learning have significantly transformed the landscape of pedagogical approaches. The educational use of escape rooms is considered one of the most groundbreaking methodologies in the realm of game-based learning. As a result, digital educational escape rooms (DEER) have been integrated into our academic curricula. This project expands on earlier research by Maroto (2021 & 2023) and originally contributes to the literature highlighting the impact on learning outcomes. The learning outcome serves as a metric for assessing the effectiveness of students' learning and is a significant factor in evaluating the quality of teaching. As much as the existing literature on educational escape rooms is about motivation there a clear gap about learning outcomes. The objective is to examine the impact of employing Digital Educational Escape Rooms (DEER) in theoretical subjects on Business and Economics. This outcome complements previous applications of this methodology in this. IT makes a valuable contribution to the existing literature by examining the impact of interventions on both motivation and learning outcomes. The project demonstrates that the use of the DEER results in an enhancement of the participants' endogenous motivation. Additionally, it effectively helps students to review the contents studied during the year. Furthermore, other transversal skills, such as collaborative teamwork and communication, critical and deductive reasoning, and practical problem-solving, is also enhanced. The methodology presented in this study is applicable to various teaching domains and academic levels. The applied digital environment exhibits a reduced barrier to entry and acquisition of knowledge. In addition, a variety of templates and formats are at one's disposal. They can be customized to suit any academic subject matter and level of complexity. After the design of the DEER, the presence of scale economies becomes outward.

    Motivation from Award Committee:  This well-conceived project achieved a runners-up prize for its development of the idea of digital "educational escape rooms" using gamification ideas. The innovation builds motivation and complex individual and team-working skills among students. The application and project is well embedded in the educational literature on active learning.
  • David Stolin, Toulouse Business School for Communicating Cutting-Edge Economics Research Through Interviews With Comedians
    This project consists of video recordings of comedian-led interviews with prominent scholars (at Cambridge, Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, UCLA and others) about their recent work.  Humor is used both to illuminate the subject matter and to make it appealing to non-specialist audiences. The videos take the form of scripted sketches as well as unscripted interviews. Comments, suggestions and questions are welcome, please email - - the project’s coordinator, Dr. David Stolin

    Motivation from Award Committee:  The candidate's approach of using comedy is unusual in economics and shows a very innovative approach to the ways economists' work can be communicated and narrated using the tropes and techniques of comedians. The panel were impressed by the originality of the project as well its potential reach to a wide and non-traditional and more diverse audience.


The winner of the Innovation in Teaching 2022 is:

Graduate Applications International Network (GAIN) for their support of prospective graduate students from all countries across Africa applying for MsC and PhD programs in economics and related fields, who are largely under represented. GAIN supports graduate applicants through information sharing, mentoring, peer-to-peer support, and reduction of financial barriers, with the goal of strengthening the pipeline for African students into the economics profession.


Honorary Mentions: 
Florian Oswald

Award Committee : Maria Guadalupe (INSEAD), Meg Meyer (University of Oxford) and Pedro Rey Biel (ESADE)