Michael Clark is an associate professor of economics at Hillsdale College. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Where is your favorite place to travel?
Walt Disney World, mostly because I talk about Disney a lot in my classes and I use them as an example for things. So if I said anything other than Disney there would be revolt against me as a professor.
What is your favorite sport?
Disc golf. My family’s big into disc golf right now. My kids play in tournaments, my oldest daughter is currently the Michigan Junior state champion, and the littlest of my kids are even playing even though they can hardly throw.
What is your favorite sport to watch?
I’ve been a lifelong NBA fan, but over the last two or so years it’s been very hard for me to watch because it’s turned into political advertising and I watch the sport as an escape from that world. So, I would probably say the NFL.
Do you prefer dark or milk chocolate?
I’m kind of converting which makes this a hard question for me. I think I’d have to say dark chocolate.
What is something you hope is discovered in your lifetime?
If you could wake up one day and play any instrument expertly, what would it be?
I’d probably want to be a drummer, like a rock or a punk rock drummer. I’d rather be in the background of things than up at the front of the stage.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
A professional athlete and that’s about it. I wasn’t that ambitious other than I just liked playing sports.
Who is a living person that you admire?
My dissertation adviser, Dan Klein. He is not famous, but even to this day, almost 20 years removed from the program he still looks out for me. He wants what’s best for me even though it does nothing for him. He was harsh with me, and always thought I could be better than I thought I could be.
What is a talent of yours?
I used to be able to seriously jump. I could do 360s, windmills, and all kinds of crazy stuff. I once entered a dunk contest and in the first round I made the guy that was announcing it drop the microphone, because I didn’t warm up. I just did some layups, and I’m six foot one, very unassuming.
What is one of your favorite classes you have taught?
Behavioral economics, which is kind of a mix of psychology and economics. We do lots of experiments and games. It’s a very interventionist course, here at Hillsdale College where we are defending liberty and pursuing truth and it plays devil’s advocate for most students.
What gets you most excited as a professor?
My unique answer to this is that I find what makes me excited in a class. For instance, I used to teach at the University of Baltimore, and I fell in love with trying to get students through that class when it was a class that they’d failed a couple of times, and helping them to understand the material so they could do the things they wanted to do. The same thing happens here at Hillsdale. I ask what’s important about this class or these people or this situation.