Emily Oster speaks to NDSU

The first Menard Family Distinguished Speaker discusses COVID-19 and parenting

Emily Oster was the first Menard Family Distinguished Speaker. North Dakota State University is hosting a series of leaders who speak on “big questions that explore ways to improve the human condition and create economic opportunity.” On Thursday, Sept. 23, Oster spoke through a Zoom meeting on COVID-19, parenting and pregnancy.

Oster is an economist and professor at Brown University. She is a bestselling author and has written many books on parenting and pregnancy. Through this, Oster’s goal is “creating a world of more relaxed pregnant women and parents,” according to her website. Oster graduated from Harvard University with a PhD in economics. Through the discussion, Oster spoke of the COVID-19 situation at Brown and how the pandemic has impacted parents and children in schools. Oster and her research team were the first to release COVID-19 data in relation to reopening schools.

Oster and a team started collecting data during the pandemic to see how they could safely get students back in schools. She found that others were not looking into this data and decided to take it upon herself to find it. “When I looked out at the landscape of both research and policy, there was very limited effort to collect data,” Oster stated. Oster told how she could see the learning losses in children with at-home learning and hear the stories of kids who had to take on more responsibility.

Oster also spoke on the false perceptions of pregnancy. When women are pregnant, they are told that they should not drink coffee, alcohol, smoke, eat sushi or deli meat. Oster explains that although many of these should not be consumed by pregnant women, moderation of some of these items is okay. Oster has two children of her own, and as they grow she writes a series of parenting books according to the age and stage they are at. Her most recent book, released in 2021 is titled “The Family Firm.” This book is focused on parenting children in the early school years. Her books contain data that help parents learn more about their children.

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