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Frank Knight typing at his desk

Frank Knight Lecture

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The Frank Knight Lecture is an annual scholarly event named in honor of Cornell's most esteemed Ph.D. student in Economics.  Knight was a pioneer in the study of uncertainty and entrepreneurship was one of themostt import economist of the 20th century.   This annual lecture is traditionally open the Economics department faculty, field faculty, and graduate students.

Frank H. Knight:

"Frank H. Knight received his Ph.D. in Economics from Cornell in 1916 and served as an instructor from 1917-1918.  " Knight is one of history’s most influential economists and spent most of his career at the University of Chicago, where he became a co-founder of the famous Chicago school (with Jacob Viner). Nobel Laureates Milton Friedman, George Stigler and James M. Buchanan were all students of Knight at Chicago."

"Knight made his reputation with his book Risk, Uncertainty, and Profit, which was based on his Ph.D. dissertation. In it, Knight set out to explain why “perfect competition” would not necessarily eliminate profits. His explanation was “uncertainty,” which Knight distinguished from risk. According to Knight, “risk” refers to a situation in which the probability of an outcome can be determined, and therefore the outcome insured against. “Uncertainty,” by contrast, refers to an event whose probability cannot be known. Knight argued that even in long-run equilibrium, entrepreneurs would earn profits as a return for putting up with uncertainty. Knight’s distinction between risk and uncertainty is still taught in economics classes today." Few economists have achieved Knight’s pedagogic impact. Each spring, the Cornell Economics Department honors Knight with the Frank H. Knight Lectureship.

Future Lecture:

To be announced.

Past Knight Lecturers:

Dr. Parag Pathak
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
"Improving Opportunities For Public Education: Recent Lessons From Urban School Reform"
April 12, 2016

Dr. Roger Koenker
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Risk, Uncertainty and the Pessimistic Portfolio"
March 24, 2015

Dr. Liran Einav
Stanford University
"Adverse Selection and Moral Hazard in Health Insurance"
September 10, 2013

Dr. Andrew Chesher
University College London
"Incomplete Models of Ambiguity in Economics"
March 7, 2013

Dr. James J. Heckaman
University of Chicago
"Hard Evidence on Soft Skills"
April 26, 2012

Dr. Thomas Sargent
New York University
"Knightian Uncertainty in Macroeconomics"
April 11, 2011

Dr. Roger Myerson
Univerisity of Chicago
2007 Recipient of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences
"Understanding the Foundations of Institutions: Moral Hazard in High Office"
December 4, 2009