8 December 2022

This year's 'invisible hand': "Capturing the attention of a student requires relevance and motivation"


The teaching prize "The Invisible Hand" is awarded each year to a lecturer at the Department of Economics who has demonstrated excellent teaching skills. This year the award goes to associate Professor Anders Munk-Nielsen.

Anders Munk-Nielsen
Anders Munk-Nielsen with the visible evidence on receiving 'The Invisble Hand'

It is no easy task to teach with a combination of enthusiasm, high professionalism and a sharp focus on pedagogy. Anders Munk-Nielsen manages just that, according to the students who have nominated him as this year's winner of the "The Invisible Hand" award.

Anders Munk-Nielsen teaches Advanced Microeconometrics, which is considered to be among the most difficult electives in the economics programme.

"Both in the evaluations and in the vote on "The Invisible Hand", the students recognize Anders' ability to make difficult material accessible through pedagogy and commitment," emphasizes Thomas Markussen, head of studies at the Department of Economics.

In addition to teaching at the economics studies, Anders Munk-Nielsen has been a main driving force in the development of a completely new education – the bachelor's program in Computer Science and Economics, which the Department of Economics has created together with the Department of Computer Science.

"Here, he has insisted on creating courses that integrate the two disciplines of computer science and economics, e.g. in microeconomics where Python programming is included as a central tool for solving the models," mentions Thomas Markussen.

It's about connecting with people and getting a reaction. It gives me a huge kick to see a Eureka moment wash over a person. I'm always chasing that experience.

Anders Munk-Nielsen, associate professor and this year's receiver of 'The Invisible Hand'

Got favorite formula tattooed

If you ask the award recipient himself, teaching is one of the things he enjoys most.

"Every semester, when the course starts, I look forward to 'getting on stage'. As a mediocre amateur drummer, I get the same energy from teaching as from playing a concert," he says and elaborates:

"It's about connecting with people and getting a reaction. It gives me a huge kick to see a Eureka moment wash over a person. I'm always chasing that experience."

A wild story about a tattoo illustrates how Anders Munk-Nielsen manages to engage his students.

"One day I told them that if you were to have just one formula tattooed on your body, it would have to be the formula for Ordinary Least Squares, which we use so frequently in the course. At the end of the semester, a student wrote to me that you have to be careful what you suggest as a teacher – he simply had the formula tattooed," says Anders Munk-Nielsen.

"I have to admit that this is probably the biggest educational thing that has happened to me. Although it puts a certain amount of pressure on getting that tattoo done myself," he says with a smile.

Anders Munk-Nielsen continuously tries to balance the tradeoff between maximizing the difficulty of the course while making it as enjoyable as possible for the students.

“Those two motives can be in contrast, but in many situations they can be reconciled. In my case, it’s a question of ensuring complete clarity about what the students are held accountable for in the exam. And then to be painstakingly honest about the relevance of the content in each lecture," he says.

Research and teaching go hand in hand

All content in teaching must be relevant and lead somewhere. Otherwise, you aren’t taking seriously what it costs the students to learn new material, believes Anders Munk-Nielsen.

"You can buy concentration and attention from students, but you have to pay with relevance and motivation. That is why I see it as a central challenge to always find the motivation – regardless of whether it is based in real-world examples, in exam-relevance, or in the aesthetics of a beautiful theory,” he says.

Alongside his teaching, Anders Munk-Nielsen does recognized research, e.g. about the markets for medicine and for cars.

"Anders' research is published in the best scientific journals and influences the political decision-making processes. In this way, he shows that excellent teaching goes hand in hand with excellent research," says Thomas Markussen and continues:

"In short: this year's award recipient is the epitome of enthusiasm, thorough pedagogical work and high professional ambitions on behalf of the students."


Anders Munk-Nielsen
Associate professor
Department of Economics
Mail: amn@econ.ku.dk 
Phone: +45 35 32 44 26

Simon Knokgaard Halskov
Press and communications consultant
The Faculty of Social Sciences
Mail: sih@samf.ku.dk 
Mobile: +45 93 56 53 29


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