In a brief interview Professor Scordis, from the Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science in New York City, talks about his teaching methodology, challenges and opportunities of online teaching and what he likes about Hamburg and HSBA.
You live and lecture in NYC. What made you want to come over to Hamburg to teach here? Please describe your teaching style.
I engage with my students to create knowledge, and to develop their ability to apply that knowledge to resolve authentic risk challenges managers are likely to face both now, and in the near future. I engage with my students under the frameworks of Understanding by Design and of Differentiated Instruction. These frameworks call for first deciding the objective of learning and then designing a curriculum backwards from that objective. Then as the curriculum unfolds, I have to understand differences and similarities in how students learn so that I adjust my instruction to best fit the students. In my experience at the University level, this approach works especially well with smaller groups of students. Thus, given the small number of high quality students in each of HSBA’s cohorts, I had to accept this invitation to guest lecture. Plus, perhaps some of Europe’s most experimental craft beer is produced in Hamburg with much of it extremely well done! So, with every glass of beer in Hamburg, there is that anticipation of reward for risk, which is at the core of what I teach.
As many others you have recently been thrown into online teaching. How is it going? Does it have any advantages over on-site teaching?
I have attended several seminars over the years, and read many scientific articles, on best practices for online learning. I developed asynchronous online learning modules for corporations and taught synchronous on-line courses. My strong preference is for synchronous online courses like this one. In my experience, this generation of students are much better at truly interacting, meaningfully, in the online learning environment than students from earlier years. Also, the possibilities for parallel learning that the online environment allows, provides interesting applications of Differentiated Instruction.
What type of discussions with students do you most enjoy?
I genuinely enjoy class discussions at the point where students are able to apply their knowledge to interrogate different points of view with logically rigorous, and conceptually solid arguments. I especially enjoy discussions with students that make me reconsider my own view.
Do you see any difference between US and German students?
Both groups of students are bright, hard-working, among the best their countries have to offer. I have to admit, however, that I do not understand the German way of grading where the higher the points a student earns, the lower and the better the grade. But then as a comparison, my country still uses the Fahrenheit scale to measure temperature!
You have won a number of national (USA) awards for innovation in risk and insurance education and in your research you investigate how publicly-traded firms engage with risk and uncertainty in their evolving operations. How has Corona changed/ How is Corona changing the behaviour of companies?
Yes, I have won awards from the American Risk and Insurance Association, and I work at the intersection of risk, value and uncertainty. In the case of Corona, I will argue that we are still dealing with uncertainty, rather than risk. And to quote from a 1937 paper written by Keynes, “we simply do not know”.
If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would the top three core values for your company be?
1. Smarter business decisions follow from building smarter risk models.
2. Treat all as I would like to be treated.
3. Strive to maximize welfare.
If you had the chance to have dinner with anyone from history, who would it be?
Assuming we overcome all culture and language barriers so this dinner is convivial let’s have a small gathering instead. Let’s invite Brahmagupta from the 7th century al-Khowarizmi from the 9th and perhaps Robert of Chester from the 12th. The first two for “inventing” the concept of zero as a mathematical quantity, and Robert, for choosing to translate their work on zero into Latin.
The part-time Master of Science programme Finance, taught entirely in English language, is designed for ambitious graduates, who are eager to prepare themselves for demanding professional roles in finance. It conveys comprehensive competences which are essential both to financial intermediaries in particular as well as the wider business world in general. In order to equip financial experts with the skills necessary to face tomorrow’s challenges, the MSc in Finance is designed with both methodology and application in mind.
In the module “Quantitative Risk Management” students are concerned with the measuring and hedging of financial risks. This includes, first and foremost, market risks like prices and interest rates, credit risk, liquidity risk, and operational risk. Emphasis is put on credit, liquidity, and op risks.