“I hope they take away that, even though I teach economics, this isn’t all about money. It’s about relationships and what you give the world.”
During his lecture, Byrns said that learning to love yourself is the greatest love of all, quoting Whitney Houston.
“Giving love is so much harder than receiving love because in order to give love you have to be a whole person,” Byrns said. “Asking and demanding love is a sign that you have issues you need to work through and that love should be a gift.”
However, Byrns didn’t begin his love lectures with such deep intentions. His lectures began in 1991 as he traveled to several universities, trying to market his textbook on economics.
But in 2002, a year after he arrived at UNC, Byrns began the lectures as an annual event in order to give back to the economics program for which he was a sponsor.
“I enjoy teaching,” he said. “It’s fun. The idea that people think I have something to say that they want to hear, that’s nice.”
And on Monday, nearly 650 students crammed into 400-person lecture hall to hear him teach.
Byrns’ lecture combined his notions of love with his love of economics, often simplifying what many people see as complicated emotions and reactions to simple mathematics.
At times he even incorporated graphs and charts, and of course he brought supply and demand into the equation.
“You have to focus on how you feel about your attribute and find a way to make it more powerful,” he said, adding that he noticed girls like dancing, so he would use anything, even a laundry machine, to learn how to dance.
Srikar Bongu, executive co-president of the Carolina Economics Club, said he was pleased with the turnout, and attributed much of the success of the event to Byrns’ name recognition.
“He is a very big person on campus.” Bongu said. “He has a strong presence, and he’ll definitely be missed.”
Jenna Koester, a student who attended the lecture, said she enjoyed the human aspect of Byrns’ lecture.
“It’s different than reading it in it Cosmo because he’s a real person with real relationships,” she said.
Byrns has been a professor of economics at UNC since 2001, but he will be moving to Phoenix with his ill wife in June in order to be closer to family members.
For what could be his last-ever lecture on love, Byrns noted one significant change to the end of this year’s presentation.
To the students, he said: “And I want you to know something, I love all of you.”
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