BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Tom Sweeney, a senior at Indiana University Bloomington, has been awarded the 2020 Marshall Scholarship through the Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission.
The scholarship, valued at nearly $50,000 per year, pays for graduate study at any university in the United Kingdom, including fees, living expenses, fares to and from the U.S., and grants for books, research, daily travel and a thesis. The scholarship was founded by the British Parliament in 1953 to commemorate the Marshall Plan, in which the United States helped the countries of Western Europe rebuild after the destruction of World War II.
Sweeney, one of 46 recipients of the scholarship this year, is pursuing three bachelor’s degrees across four major areas of study – economics, philosophy, math and statistics – and will graduate in May. During the 2018-19 academic year, he was a visiting student at Oxford University, where he excelled in his studies and engaged in the community, joining student groups and engaging in political activism.
During his tenure at IU, Sweeney, a Wells Scholar, led the student organization Culture of Care to become one of the largest student organizations on campus by redefining the group’s mission, recruiting students and securing grant funding. The organization now has a $30,000 operating budget and more than 200 members; it provides campuswide programming on issues related to sexual health and well-being, mental health, drug and alcohol awareness, and discrimination.
“Tom is extremely intelligent, creative and driven, and he possesses a profound sense of compassion for others,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “Despite a rigorous program of study, he has excelled academically, while also specializing in research on economic inequality and committing himself to fostering a just and inclusive campus community. We are excited for the research and learning opportunities that Tom, who is most deserving of this prestigious honor, will have as IU’s newest Marshall Scholar.”
Sweeney has also served twice as a summer research intern for the Federal Reserve Board of Governors, where he analyzed wealth inequality and the widening wealth gaps along divisions of race, education level and generation.
“There is a serious concern about whether the growing inequality is associated with worse economic outcomes at the macro or aggregate level, which is a focus of my current research,” he said. “I’m eager to learn more about how and why the changing economy affects different groups in different ways.”
Sweeney joins only 17 other students from Indiana University to have received this award, and he is the first IU Marshall Scholar since 2012.
Over the next two years, the scholarship will cover Sweeney’s plans to study econometrics, the statistical science of economics, at the London School of Economics and Political Science. During his time in London, he will work with top researchers in the field and specialize in aspects of economic inequality.
“One of my inspirations has been Elinor Ostrom, the late economist at IU who was the first woman to receive the Nobel Prize in Economics,” he said. “Her work on common-pool resources challenged the conventional wisdom in the field at the time. Her ideas were somewhat heretical, but in the end, she was right.”
Office of the Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education