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Economics 384: Research Project in Economics

Objective
The Research Project in Economics is designed to be a capstone research experience for senior Economics majors. This senior-level research project is designed to fulfill these learning goals of researching, writing, and presenting a paper addressing a significant economic question or issue. Each student develops an economic question, which is then analyzed using an appropriate economic framework and evidentiary support. Students are asked to respond to criticisms to make this a wholesome research experience. In a nutshell, you will be "doing economics."!!!

Other upper-level Economics courses were offered to expose students to research opportunities to begin this process. Guided by the professor of record as well as the entire Economics department, students apply their knowledge from previous coursework as they "do economics". The small class size is purposefully kept small so that it permits greater interaction between the professor and each student, as well as more interaction among students.

Combining an Honors Thesis and ECON 384
Students planning to write an Honors thesis should register for HONR 398 in the fall of their senior year.

Students are also expected to attend the class meetings of the ECON 384 course in the fall of their senior year. The ECON 384 models the research process in economics and provides useful deadlines for completing the research project. In addition, if circumstances prevent a student from completing an honors thesis, the student will have completed the work for ECON 384, a necessary requirement for graduating with an economics major.

The department chair will accept the substitution of HONR 398 for ECON 384 when auditing the student's application for degree.

Pre-requisites
The course prerequisites are:

1. ECON 333 - Macroeconomic Theory
2. ECON 334 - Quantitative Methods in Economics
3. ECON 332 - Microeconomic Theory
4. Coursework in Calculus and Statistics
5. At least one Tier Three course (any ECON course numbered 350 or higher).

Recent Work:
Here are some recent abstracts from the ECON 384 projects:

Crime Rates, Income Inequality, and Density at the Neighborhood Level -

"An economic model of crime can help policy makers understand how income inequality and population density relate to crime on the Census Tract level. Higher levels of income inequality suggest more social tension and higher returns to crime while population density influences the probability of recognition and apprehension of criminals. My cross-sectional Poisson analysis of Los Angeles Census Tracts uses tract-level demographic data comes from the National Neighborhood Crime Study and PUMA-level income data from International Public Use MicroSample database. I find that income inequality, as measured by a Gini Coefficient, and population density both relate negatively and significantly with crime rates." Andrew Hovel (Fall 2013).
Please check out the video: 

An Empirical Analysis on Estimating the Demand for Housing Services:

"This research paper attempts to estimate the demand for housing services across the United States. More specifically, the research paper examines the price and income elasticity of demand and compare the results between a single market and multiple markets. An empirical analysis on 32 Metropolitan Statistical Areas in the year 2005 suggests that the price elasticity of demand for multiple markets is inelastic; and the price elasticity of demand has relatively smaller magnitude in multiple markets compared to corresponding elasticity in a single market. In addition, the income elasticity of demand has a relatively larger magnitude than the price elasticity of demand for multiple markets." By Nhu Nguyen (Fall 2013)
Please check out the video:

Course Timeline:

Typically, the coursework involves these stages:

  1. The research project and selecting a topic - Weeks 1-3
  2. Initial written proposal and faculty review - Weeks 4-5
  3. Expanded written proposal and preliminary bibliography - Weeks 5-6
  4. Researching, research advice and first draft - Weeks 7-8
  5. Small group discussions and practice oral presentations of work-in-progress - Week before the final presentation
  6. Final/formal oral presentation
  7. Final draft - At end of semester, after the final presentation.

Student Profiles: 

Heather Kaluzniak 

What inspired you to become an economics major? 

I think economics teaches a person how to ask good questions.  After taking an introductory course, it seemed like field which combined hard data and artful theory. The idea of a subject with that kind of dichotomy inspired me to major in it.  

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics? 

I would encourage a prospective major to read reliable newspapers and keep an eye out for economic topics that pique her or his interest. Once a student knows what areas she or he likes, it's pretty easy to find relevant classes offered at CSB and SJU. Beyond that, talk with friends, professors, or anyone else who's interested in economics. 

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation? 

I'm planning on going to medical school and becoming a physician. From my experience so far, it seems like knowledge regarding the economics of medicine would be helpful for a well-rounded medical professional to have. One possible application of an economics degree that I've considered is in the area healthcare policy creation and reform. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU? 

The highlight of my experience is being a part of a lasting community that fosters intellectual and personal growth. It seems like everyone says this, but it's completely true. There's something intangibly cool about the students and faculty at these two colleges. CSB and SJU cultivate good, smart people.

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I've had to overcome here is ACL surgery during my toughest semester. The recovery forced me to put life on hold for a while, but luckily I had support from some understanding professors. Other than that, with my double major, switching from thinking like an economist to thinking like a biochemist is hard sometimes too (but there are some parallels - enzymes operate like the free market). 

Are you involved in any other activities or clubs at CSB/SJU? 

At CSB/SJU, I play for the soccer team and the lacrosse team. I am also a teaching assistant for the economics and biology departments.

 

Roman Derevyanko 

What inspired you to become an economics major? 

Pursuing an economics major was an easy decision for me to make after understanding the benefits. I came to CSB/SJU interested in finance and business and quickly realized that the best option for me was to understand how and why these two subjects interacted the way they do. This is the holistic approach of an economics major that inspired me to pursue a degree that helps me understand how our society allocates scarce resources. 

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics?

I thought I knew what economics was when I first started at CSB/SJU, but there was so much more. Take an introductory class as soon as possible, talk to the professors, and talk to students that are in the major. My classmates and I are always happy to share with current and prospective students about the economics major and life at CSB and SJU. 

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation?

Economics has taught me to love analyzing numbers and graphs. This, combined with own fast-paced personality, has provided me with inspiration to pursue management consulting. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

As you step foot on either the CSB or SJU campus you instantly become a part of a large family. Bennies and Johnnies are the base to your educational experience and will certainly be a highlight to it as well! However, don't think that it's just the students - it's the professors, parents, and alumni as well. 

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome?

An economics major will push you in your studies and stretch your intellectual ability, and it has certainly challenged me. I think that the real challenge is the best part about the major. You're four years away from the "real-world;" you're going to want to be prepared when you leave college, and the economics major's challenging curriculum will do just that. 

Are you involved in any other activities or clubs at CSB/SJU?

I am currently the president of Square One, a student-run nonprofit on campus, and I was Vice President of Enactus in my junior year. I am also an Entrepreneur Scholar at the Donald McNeely Center for Entrepreneurship, a competitive entrepreneurship program where a cohort of students is taught to design and implement a business venture.  Lastly, I am teacher's assistant for the Global Business Leadership department.

 

Megan Posusta  

What inspired you to become an economics major?

Economics is an intriguing field because we study real life scenarios. There are several approaches you can take to this field because of the many areas of study it has to offer. Economics is challenging, applicable to real life, and always changing, and that holds my interest and keeps the passion in learning alive. 

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics?

Keep an open mind! There are two types of economics, macro and micro, which branch into numerous other areas of research. If you take a class that doesn't pique your interest, don't be discouraged, and try another one. You're bound to find something that fascinates you. 

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation?

After graduation, I plan to get out and get some experience in business. I have paired my economics major with an accounting minor which has allowed me to gain a unique skillset and opened many doors for future work opportunities. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

The highlight of my time here at St. Ben's has been the ability to take advantage of a lot of special opportunities available to students here. During my time here at school, I've been able to better myself through relationships with professors and mentors, participate in unique extracurricular activities, and use the tightknit Bennie/Johnnie network to build my personal network. I look towards my future after St. Ben's. 

What has been the biggest challenge that you have had to overcome?

I would say that my biggest challenge was finding my real academic interest.  I started in a pre-optometry/science track in my first year, and it was hard to let go of that idea, but once I opened my mind and started taking different classes, I found something I thought I could see myself doing well with after my years here at St. Ben's. 

Are you involved in any other activities or clubs at CSB/SJU?

In addition to academic studies, I am a member of OIKOS economics honor society, a board member for the Women in Economics Program, a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters, a mentor in the First Year Forward Program, and a member of the Benedictine Friends Program here on campus.

 

Annie Lauber  

What inspired you to become an economics major?

I was inspired to become an economics major because of the passion and positivity of economics professors. I was also attracted the economic major's applicability to the real world. Not only is the major intellectually challenging, but it also has given me the tools to think critically about economic issues and problems, leaving me with a greater understanding of economic events that occur all around the world. The major is also fairly flexible and that allowed me to pursue a double major (Economics and Hispanic Studies) and spend a semester abroad in Spain.      

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics?

Talk to professors and students currently in the major. Every professor in the department knows the importance of obtaining a degree in economics, and current students are familiar with classes and may help you understand what you can expect from the major. I would also advise to read up on current economic events and get familiar with topics that pertain to economics. 

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation?

I plan to go to law school and use my economics degree in the legal field. As I have been studying for the LSAT and applying for law schools, I'm confident the analytical and critical thinking skills I've acquired from the economics major will successfully support a career in law.  Economics and my study of the law will enable me to have an impact on a wide range of issues in virtually any area of legal practice. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

The highlight of my time at CSB/SJU has been my time abroad in Spain. Being completely immersed in the Spanish culture allowed me to learn more Spanish than I ever could have in a semester at CSB/SJU. I gained a new found independence and confidence, and I developed close relationships with my program director, other students in my program, program professors, and my Spanish host mom. The experience was trying, eye-opening, exciting, and left a lasting impact on my world view. 

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

The biggest challenge I have had to overcome was finding a major that not only was intellectually challenging but also sparked my curiosity. It took me a while to understand that liking the idea of something is much different that actually having an interest in something. Once I discovered that I really enjoyed the topics and ideas underlying the economics major, I was able to channel my curiosity into something about which I have great interest.

Are you involved in any other activities or clubs at CSB/SJU?

I am currently the Vice President of Spanish Club, a member of OIKOS, a study abroad ambassador, and a part of the Women in Economics organization. Outside of CSB/SJU, I love to run and participate in half/full marathons a couple times a year. 

 

Erik Ternsjo  

What inspired you to become an economics major?

I was inspired to study economics because it is applicable in various diverse careers. Economics also has a huge impact on global issues such as politics, history, finance, and international relations. Having lived in several countries, I am also fascinated by the different international aspects of economics and analyzing large sets of data. 

What advice do you have for students considering a major in economics?

My advice for students considering a major in economics is to understand that there are different perspectives and seldom simple solutions to complex questions. 

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation?

I anticipate on using my economics degree after graduation by keeping an analytical mindset. After graduation, I plan on getting more work experience, and then continue my education by studying a masters in a similar field. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

Coming from Sweden, the highlights of my time at CSB/SJU and the liberal arts program it provides have been getting to know students and professors from many different backgrounds, studying diverse subjects, and seeing more of the United States. 

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

A challenge I have had to overcome is being able to get internships in America under a student visa.  This challenge is not unique to CSB and SJU, but it has required creative thinking.  

Are you involved in any other activities or clubs at CSB/SJU?

During my time at CSB/SJU, I have been involved in cross-country, varsity swimming, photography, The Record (the student newspaper), economics club, the Washington, DC intern program, and the education abroad program in India.