Although Matthew Caulfield spent the first year of his undergraduate education at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, he didn’t really start to delve more deeply into the study of public policy until after he had transferred to Wharton in 2013. With support from the Wharton Public Policy Initiative, Matt returned to Washington in the summer after his sophomore year to work at Third Way, a centrist think tank, in their Capital Markets Initiative. “The Initiative focuses on explaining financial instruments and concepts, such as derivatives or bank liquidity, to DC policy professionals,” Matt explains. Through his internship, he coauthored a report on Bitcoin’s monetary features, in addition to contributing to a paper on the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s designation of systemically important financial institutions. “My internship exceeded my expectations. I was given the opportunity to do real policy work… . It was a wonderful experience.”
Matt used his time on campus to pursue other policy-related activities, while also cultivating his interest in law and passion for classical music. He was an Executive Editor of the Penn Undergraduate Law Journal, which publishes undergraduate work in the field of law from students all around the world. He has wrote for the Law Journal’s popular legal blog, The Roundtable. He served as the Co-Chair of the University Honor Council as well and helped with their academic integrity initiatives, including organizing Greek life informational presentations and advocating for clearer syllabi collaboration policies. Additionally, he was involved with the Penn Government and Politics Association in several ways, as Treasurer on the Executive Board, as a member of the Polybian Society, a writer for The Spectrum, and Whip of the Liberal Caucus of the Penn Political Union. Despite the demands of his studies and these many extracurricular commitments, Matt still found time to pursue vocal training and performance. He was a soloist in the Penn Baroque Ensemble and a member of the Penn Singers Light Opera Company, and even had the opportunity to serenade President Amy Gutmann at a Penn summit in Washington, DC.
As Matt was finishing his undergraduate degree at Wharton, he had an offer to go right into a two-year executive training program in the private sector, but ultimately decided to stay at Wharton and continue his studies for a PhD in Ethics and Legal Studies, in preparation for an academic career. “I thought getting paid to read and write about whatever I’m interested in sounded like an amazing career option, and I’ve always enjoyed teaching,” Matt says. His interests are really in business ethics—issues “at the nexus of economics, management, law, and philosophy,” and that combine insights from these various fields to provide “a full outlook on how businesses can, do, and should operate.” Matt is currently finishing a dissertation entitled “None of Your Business Ethics: A Defense of Secrecy in Business” that examines the ethics of secrecy in firms and markets, including issues relating to pay secrecy, corporate regulation, and anonymity in markets.
While forging ahead with his dissertation, Matt also has been serving as the Principal Investigator for a research project sponsored by the Wharton Public Policy Initiative, to update PPI’s 2016 study of the election technology industry, “The Business of Voting.” Matt had been part of the team of six students who had contributed to writing the 2016 report, which explores ways in which the structure of the industry inhibits innovation in the development of more reliable, accessible, and secure voting machines. He initially got involved in the study because he saw it as “a good learning experience, combining economic/strategic analysis with policy analysis.” His affinity for the research was so great, though, that he became the spokesperson for it, and earned opportunities to present the findings from the study at multiple conferences, including the Global Elections & Technology Summit and National Conference of State Legislatures, and was invited to serve as an expert to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Committee on the Future of Voting. “Being treated as an expert in election tech markets has been both flattering and somewhat alarming,” Matt admits. “The fact that I, beginning as an undergraduate student, have become one of the main commentators on election technology markets points to how little market-oriented commentary currently exists” in the election tech field, despite how important voting systems are to our democratic way of life. Even more fundamentally, though, the opportunity to engage with the larger voting technology community—“people who have accumulated decades’ worth of experience and knowledge in this area”—has been very gratifying.
As Matt enters his seventh year as a Wharton student, between his undergraduate and graduate degree programs, he is busily applying for academic positions, and is deeply appreciative of all that the school has enabled him to achieve thus far. Matt states, “Wharton has made me feel more and more comfortable with piercing traditional disciplinary boundaries,” and has demonstrated that “deep engagement with philosophy, management, and law is not only possible but hugely valuable.” Particularly with the election technology research, “the access and institutional support Wharton has given me” has been extraordinary, Matt says. “The Wharton name has been instrumental to getting different stakeholders invested in our project, and the resources offered by the Wharton Public Policy Initiative have allowed us not only to conduct this research, but introduce it to most major groups working in this area by presenting it at conferences and meetings all around the country.”