Teaching Philosophy

I design my classes around two central goals. The most important goal in any class is providing students with the tools they need to learn the material. Since different students learn in different ways, accomplishing this goal means taking a variety of different approaches in teaching. In addition to standard techniques like presentation slides or written notes, I take advantage of technology in and out of the classroom by asking students to answer questions on their phones and computers, providing online quizzes after class to reinforce the material, and using online discussion forums to enable discussion even in large classes.

The second goal is to make the class interesting to students. Understanding economics is essential for making sense of many current issues that students care about. Even in more technical economics classes, I believe that using concepts and theories to understand reality is a necessary component. I use additional readings to connect class material to current events and ask students to post their own questions on articles they find in the news.

Courses Taught

Econ 2 – Principles of Macroeconomics
Econ 11 – Intermediate Microeconomics
Econ 102 – Intermediate Macroeconomics
Econ 162 – Monetary Policy
Econ 165 – History of Capitalism in America
Econ 187 – Applications of Economic Theory

Selected Comments From Student Evaluations

5000 characters are not nearly enough to describe all of the strengths of Chris Surro, so recognize that this is merely a summary of his strengths. There is a reason why his classes always fill up immediately. Chris Surro is by far one of the coolest, nicest, best Econ professors at UCLA (no shade to the other professors, but it’s a fact). He has the ability to make literally anything interesting. He even made macroeconomics sound interesting enough that I was contemplating taking it for my other field for my master’s degree (I know this gave away who I am, but I don’t care about being anonymous), but he reassured me that graduate macro is nowhere as cool as the macro he has taught us (which is such a shame because his classes are AMAZING). I don’t know what you’re paying him, but I can guarantee you that it’s nowhere near the amount he should be getting. Unlike many other professors I’ve had at UCLA, Chris actually cares about teaching and, more importantly, he cares about his students. He doesn’t just care that we learn the content, he cares that we develop our skills in order to be better applicants in the workforce (something other professors don’t really care about). In terms of weaknesses, Chris has none.
This class has been an absolute joy and I’ve loved having the opportunity to prepare for the Fed Challenge. As a result of taking this class, I feel much more confident in talking about the Fed and the economy as a whole without sounding stupid. Most econ courses offered at UCLA are kind of pointless. You just learn about theories that are frankly irrelevant and unrealistic. But in this class, we not only learned about the ACTUAL economy, but we also had opportunities to enhance our own skills. We had
multiple in-class presentations and Q&A rounds that gave us the opportunity to not only think like the Fed, but also think on our feet and present in front of our peers and judges. Creating this class was an amazing idea, as I feel it will prepare us well to compete in the Fed Challenge in the fall.
– Econ 187, Spring 2023

Well, this is a pretty unique class. To expand upon the above categories that I answered with a medium score, this class is largely as difficult as you make it yourself. Professor Surro gives a lot of freedom for students to take responsibility and hold themselves accountable. I think that is the greatest strength of this course. For the first time in my college career, I was given a bunch of group work with different peers, and I never felt like anyone wasn’t pulling their weight. This stands as a testament to Professor Surro’s structure in this class. Clearly, the students who make it through the application process respond well to the added level of personal accountability that is required to succeed in this course. I feel like I learned more in this class than I have in any other UCLA course I have taken yet. The information learned here may not be used by many of the people taking the class. However, it gave me a deep understanding of how the US central banking system works which allowed me to better understand the how economy as a whole operates. I feel like I now can better understand why the theoretical economic models I learned about in other Econ classes work when I had previously just memorized relationships. I also gained valuable public speaking skills, especially experience answering high-pressure “think on your feet” type questions that I feel will be useful in future job interviews, presentations, and general life situations.
– Econ 187, Spring 2023

I think integrating so many peer activities in the course, not only makes the class more fun but allows you to hear other opinions that you might not necessarily observe on your own. UCLA econ classes truly lack any sort of group work or projects, and when done right can make the class way more engaging. Usually its just a competition for an A which discourages any sort of teamwork so I’m glad with the amount of communication in this class.
– Econ 165, Spring 2023

Professor Surro is an excellent lecturer, organizer, and motivator. From day one, Professor Surro shares a strategy for success that consists of advice that is proven to help students get significantly higher grades in the course. When I first saw this presentation on how to succeed in Econ 11, I knew that I was in the right place. Professor Surro’s lecturing talent alongside his indomitable dedication to helping students learn is one that is truly rare to come across.

Alongside his commitment to helping the entire class learn, Professor Surro always makes time to speak to his students one-on-one — whether it is a question related to the course or just a random conversation about the field of economics, you will never find Professor Surro walking alone between classes. I believe this truly speaks to both his character as a Professor and how much each one of his students, including me, looks up to him. As an aspiring economics professor myself, Professor Surro made time to give detailed career advice and even directed me to opportunities where I can apply my passion for economics.

While Econ 11 is certainly a challenging class, I believe taking it with Professor Surro made it much more manageable and enjoyable. The homework is rewarding, the lectures were crystal clear, and despite being harshly graded at times, the tests were fair and even fun. I absolutely plan to take Professor Surro again when the opportunity arises.
– Econ 11, Fall 2022

WOW, where do I even start. I heard about Professor Surro so many times through other students (he is famous as the best professor in the Econ department), so my expectations were already high. But he still exceeded by expectations by far. I was shocked.

He obviously cares about both his students learning and wellbeing, and pushes us to do better without stressing us out. Even though he was very relaxed about the grading for the class (which I am grateful for), I still felt like I wanted to put in more work than other classes simply because he made me want to do my best. I loved how the work was extremely flexible; if there was a hard week, you could knock out the assignments quickly. If you wanted to dedicate more time some weeks, the assignments let you go in depth. So it was very self-determined and easily to incorporate into your schedule.

He was so kind when organizing meetings made sure everyone’s schedule worked, and he put in extra effort to give us learning opportunities like interview practice. He is always available on Slack when I’m struggling with Python and need help. I never knew a professor could teach you so much without causing any anxiety whatsoever. And, not only did I learn a LOT, but the things I learned were the most practical skills I’ve ever gained from UCLA. Interviewing, data analysis, research methodologies, Python coding, and more. I loved each assignment and it was clear how much time and thought he put into each section of the course.

In the future, I don’t care what Professor Surro teaches, I will try to take whatever it is, because I know I will learn a ton. He is the nicest professor I have ever met and whenever I was ever struggling, he was always there to help and provide support. He goes the extra mile with everything that he does and I am SO grateful to have gotten into his course. I remember when I reached out about it in winter and he was so kind and responded almost immediately.
– Econ 187, Spring 2021

Everything was useful. And that’s not even an exaggeration. I’ve never had a class where there was a clear purpose with every assignment. There was a learning goal and aim behind every lecture and topic, and he always made sure to show the applications and connections. We never felt like something was pointless or busy-work. I especially loved Professor Surro’s choice to teach us Python. I am currently learning R in 103 and Stata in another class, so I’ve had a lot of coding this quarter (and I’m definitely new at coding haha). But I really enjoyed learning it and I am now seeing the benefits everywhere. For example, I am an internship over the summer at Amazon and they said that understanding Python will help us with our AWS work, so I’m so glad Professor Surro helped me get a head start. Also, the interview practice was extremely helpful, I wasn’t planning on doing it because I get VERY anxious and petrified during those things but Professor Surro was so supportive the entire time and really helped me learn. I am normally not very confident at all, but Professor Surro always made me strive to complete my best work and try my hardest, even though he was very relaxed and allowed us to put in as much effort as we wanted. He is easily the best professor I’ve ever had.
– Econ 187, Spring 2021

Thank you UCLA! F I N A L L Y !!!
Strengths: Chris Surro is extremely knowledgeable and passionate about economics and is always well- prepared for lectures. There is a great balance in lectures too: some are ipad notes, some power point. You can tell Chris is very hard-working as it shows in the way he lectures and the way he designed the class itself. He could have had a standard midterm and a final for grading but instead we also have quizzes after each class, online discussions, and problem sets. It is definitely more work for him but gives a lot more value to students. Chris also has a kind personality, is very responsive to his students and genuinely wants everyone to succeed. He even comes to class early so that students can ask him any questions they have about the class (Chris has us post our questions online so that everyone can see his responses – very convenient for a 300 student class). The class is extremely tough but Chris gives us everything we need to succeed, the rest is up to us.
Weaknesses: This class is too good and creates a wrong incentive – I almost want to fail it, just so I can repeat it
– Econ 102, Spring 2019

Surro is one of the best econ professors I have ever had at my time in UCLA. I thought this class was going to boring, but he somehow made it interesting. One of the smartest ideas that he did were those articles that you have to research and type it. I never thought I would actually get interested in macroeonomics, but it is so apparent in the real world. There’s interest rates, China’s trade war, GDP. They are all factors in how the world operates. He was also so smart in tackling the subject with both slides and on the board. It spiced up the material and made his teaching more convenient and efficient. Lastly, Surro is great at teaching in general. He is so articulate and his lectures are incredibly organized, like he knew what he was doing every time. He could ease up on the emails he sent us. They were a bit much. Oh I forgot, he went the extra mile to help students by providing answers to the homework if they showed proof that they tried. That’s like so much extra work, and he still accommodated us. I am wholefully impressed. It would be a shame if he doesn’t teach at UCLA again. He is truly a gem in this academic community.
– Econ 102, Summer 2018

Bruinwalk Reviews