Haley Harwell, who joined the Jepson School as assistant professor of leadership studies in fall 2016, speaks about her research, the Jepson School, working with students, and her interest in cooking.

Much of your research examines altruism and charitable giving. What inspired your interest in this area?

One reason I pursued a Ph.D. was because I was interested in human behavior, specifically pro-social behavior. My adviser in graduate school introduced me to research in altruistic behaviors. These behaviors are shaped by individual preferences and social norms. There are so many unknowns about behaviors that influence charitable decision making and altruistic behavior, it is fascinating. I am intrigued by looking at how people make decisions that affect others. This has inspired my research into altruism and specifically charitable giving. Americans gave over $315 billion dollars to charities in 2015. This is a huge amount of money and, ultimately, I want to understand individuals’ motives for giving. There are many important organizations and causes that rely on individual donations. I believe this is one way that I can help the industry and in turn help people indirectly.

What attracted you to the Jepson School?

Jepson is a unique place. I really love the fact that the Jepson School is interdisciplinary. Having scholars from so many diverse backgrounds allows individuals to grow as a scholar and teacher. My work bridges several disciplines. Another huge benefit to the Jepson School is the importance placed on teaching, mentoring, and doing research with undergraduate students. Mentoring and working with undergraduates on research is something I have enjoyed tremendously in the past. So ultimately it was a good fit. I also think the students and faculty here are amazing. The environment and collegiality in the Jepson School is something that is not found in many places.

What do you enjoy about working with undergraduate students?

Working with undergraduates is one of the highlights of being a professor. They are enthusiastic and many times have great ideas and questions. It is easy when you do research to get so caught up on some small piece of a design that you forget the overall big question. When you work with undergraduates, they help you remember to keep things simple and break things into doable pieces. I also love seeing their interest grow and develop. Many times students have such a unique way of looking at things, and their enthusiasm inspires me to step outside my comfort zone and explore their ideas, concerns, and interests as well.

Tell me about your teaching style.

My teaching style is trying to get the students engaged in the topic. I try to make activities that are memorable as well as fun. If the students are excited to come to class, it makes the experience better for everyone, including me. I use active learning, such as economic experiments (games) and pop culture references, to invite discussion and inclusion of the students.

You are also a professionally trained chef. What’s your favorite dish to prepare and why?

That is a really challenging question. I have many favorite dishes. I really enjoy Asian fusion dishes, and my favorite to prepare is a hearty stir-fry with homemade sauce and lots of fresh vegetables. Whenever I do this, I also prepare fried rice as well as homemade crab ragoons and eggrolls to accompany the stir fry.

I also enjoy barbecue and grilling. Being from Texas, it is important to know how to cook a perfect steak. This is one of my favorite dishes to prepare. Something so simple that people really enjoy when it is done right. There is also the ability to make steak an adventure by using different sauces to complement the meat.