Economics 100 Staff
An introduction to economics as a social science for students with essentially no background in economics, this course provides an overview of the tools that Neoclassical economists use to investigate the behavior of consumers and firms in markets. The course starts with examining consumer choice, production decisions, and income distribution. We then turn to an overview of the economic landscape we have built. Along the way, we seek to examine what is at stake in our choice of economic explanations by discussing various critiques and extensions of basic microeconomic theory.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Economics 101 Staff
This course provides a comprehensive introduction to macroeconomics. The course acquaints the student with the prevailing economic theories used by today’s policy makers. During the course, we will consider all major economic perspectives, including the central view that markets are a good way to organize the economy, but that markets generate certain significant flaws that need to be fixed. In discussing a number of alternative economic theories and perspectives, the ultimate goal is to increase students’ awareness and understanding of economic issues, to improve their ability to evaluate various policy options, and to help them decipher political-economic rhetoric. The course starts with the evolution of societies in human history and the development of modern economic thought. The emphasis is on a conceptual understanding of topics such as economic growth, inflation, unemployment, the role of governments, and fiscal and monetary policies. No prerequisites.
This course is generally offered every semester.
Economics 106 Neilson
What is money? Why does it have value, and how is that value affected by the actions of participants in the money system (e.g., the IMF, world central banks, commercial banks, and individuals)? This class provides an introduction to the institutions, operation, and origins of the modern money system and to how economists and others think about that system. It assumes no previous knowledge of economics, though students with prior knowledge of economics will find connections to these fields. The course incorporates primary readings from economists including Young, Bagehot, Hicks, and others, as well as contemporary analysis of the IMF and the U.S. Federal Reserve and other central banks. No prerequisites; open to first-year students.
Last taught F08.
Economics and Technology
Economics 107 Neilson
This course considers the relationship between economics and technology from several viewpoints. First, we look at the relationship between technological change and economic growth, both historically—especially in the context of the Industrial Revolution—and in a contemporary setting. We examine the role that technology plays in economic development and how different policy choices succeed or fail to transfer technologies to the developing world. Next, we extend this relationship to understand the effect that technology has had not only on economies, but on the discipline of economics itself. Theorists are shaped by their times, and their theories are as well. We ask how economics has developed with the economy and how the future of economics might be affected by technological changes taking place today. Finally, we study intellectual property—the ownership of ideas—and the patent regime, which codifies and enforces that ownership. We examine critically the arguments for and against the current intellectual property system, and consider possible alternatives. We study open-source software as an example of innovation without intellectual property.
Last taught S09.
Intermediate Political Economy
Economics 209 Staff
This course offers an introduction to political economy, including radical economics. Political economy offers alternatives to the neoclassical view of modern capitalist economies. We start the course by studying the economic theories of Karl Marx such as labor theory of value and surplus and exploitation, and continue with brief introductions of contemporary political economic issues, among which are gender and economics, environment and economics, globalization and its institutions, political economy of agriculture and food crisis. This course also offers a close look to the theories of an American radical economist, Thorstein Veblen, and his theory of the leisure class. We complete our semester by looking at two alternatives at different scales: First, the Swedish economic system, an alternative to both capitalism and communism, and second, Mondragon Cooperative, a successful co-op in northern Spain. Prerequisites: Economics 100, 101, or permission of the instructor (prior coursework in politics is recommended).
This course is generally offered once every year.
Crisis! Economics of the Financial Crisis and Recession of 2007–08
Economics 224/324 Neilson
Starting in 2007, the world economy entered a severe crisis and deep recession. In this course, we will study the events of the crisis itself, its macroeconomic and financial root causes, and its effects in terms of policy, economic thought, and individual and national welfare. At the intermediate level, the course readings and discussions will remain relevant to students with limited background in economics. Students taking the course at the advanced level will also be expected to master formal mathematical models describing the circumstances leading to the crisis and approaches to the recovery. Prerequisites for the intermediate level course are completion of one 200-level social science class or permission of the instructor; prerequisites for the 300-level version of the class are Introduction to Macroeconomics or permission of the instructor.
Last taught S10.
Economies of the Middle East and North Africa
Economics 320 Staff
This course provides an economic survey of the region of the Middle East and North Africa. This is a seminar course in which examples from countries across the region illustrate the themes of interaction with Western capitalism and the global economy and variations among patterns of economic transformation and growth. We discuss topics such as the importance of oil and capital flows, industrial and agrarian trends, the role of government in the economy, employment and the export of labor, human development and gender, the impact of Islamism, export-led growth, and import-substitution industrialization. Prerequisites: Economics 100, 101, or 209, or permission of the instructor.
Last taught F09.
Economics 300/400 Staff
Under these course numbers, juniors and seniors design tutorials to meet their particular interests and programmatic needs. A students should see the prospective tutor to define an area of mutual interest to pursue either individually or in a small group. A student may register for no more than one tutorial in any semester.