Economics

Course Descriptions

ECON 111 Introduction to Economics (4)

Includes both microeconomics and macroeconomics. The price system as a mechanism for directing resource allocation. Demand, supply and market equilibrium in perfectly competitive markets. Development and application of criteria for efficiency and equity. Measures of the performance of the macroeconomy. Circular flow, aggregate demand, aggregate supply and equilibrium within the context of an international economy. Nature and impact of monetary and fiscal policies upon output, price level and employment. Fall and spring.

Social World Way of Thinking. Quantitative Reasoning Designation. Social Science Designation (Common Curriculum).
ECON 111A
Social World Way of Thinking. Justice Thematic Encounter. Quantitative Reasoning Designation.
ECON 314 Economics of Financial Institutions and Markets (4)

Why does news from the Federal Reserve cause the stock market to rise or fall? Should we regulate cryptocurrencies like banks? This course will introduce you to the basics of American finance. We will study interest rates and how they influence the value of bonds and money. We’ll learn about what central banks do (the “Fed” in the US), and how stock, foreign exchange, and mortgage markets work. We’ll then take a closer look at banks, mutual funds, insurance companies, and pension funds, and how they’re managed by owners and regulated by government amid the risks they face.

ECON 315 American Economic History (4)

Examination of the growth and development of the American economy from the 17th –century colonization to the present. Application of basic tools of economic analysis to explore the effects of the natural environment, public policies, changes in technology, and social and cultural forces on historical economic events, institutions and processes of economic growth and development. Prerequisite: 111 or Sophomore standing.

Social World Way of Thinking. Movement Thematic Encounter.
ECON 316 Asian Economies (4)

Life in the United States has deep connections to the global community. This course looks at some of the largest economies of Asia, such as China, Japan, India and South Korea, and traces their journey to becoming economic giants in today’s world. It looks at the role played by the United States in each of those stories as an economic and political partner. It addresses income growth in these economies and the quality of lives of citizens within them. Are they healthier? Are they happier? Do they have more equal access to the fruits of economic prosperity? It especially looks at gender equality between women and men. And this study asks whether those experiences parallel our own experiences in the US. The course focuses on understanding the interplay of economic justice with economic growth and learning how the complex process of economic development requires appropriate public policy to ensure a high quality of life for citizens.

Social World Way of Thinking. Justice Thematic Encounter. Gender Designation (Common Curriculum).
ECON 317 International Economics (4)

Is it easy to win a trade war? Does the labor of immigrants help or hurt the US economy? Should we be more concerned about China or automation as a threat to US jobs? Why do trade deficits matter? Does international trade make poor countries even poorer? Can Chinese “currency manipulation” hurt the US economy? International economics explores the theory of international trade and finance with attention to today’s problems of trade policy, the balance of payments, the international monetary system, and globalization issues. The course will help students understand such things in the news as comparative advantage, trade policy, international economic institutions (the WTO, the IMF, and the World Bank), regional trade agreements, foreign exchange markets, and the influence of multinational corporations. Prerequisite: Econ 111.

ECON 318 Natural Resource and Environmental Economics (4)

Do we have a right to place an economic value on the environment? Should United States promote Wind Power? What lessons can we learn about the utilization of environmental resources by looking at the collapse of Mayan civilization and the Easter Island settlements? Is valuing human life immoral? Is the high price of Bluefin Tuna part of the problem or the solution for the conservation of this species? Why is the state of Alaska saving part of the royalties from mineral extraction for the future generation?  

This class introduces the economic perspectives to investigate the challenging environmental issues of today, with special attention to the use, misuse, and the overuse of natural and environmental resources. Students will learn how to develop appropriate economic concepts and tools for analyzing environmental and natural resource issues. Students will also learn how to apply these tools in various applications such as to investigate the issues with fairness and justice when dealing with exhaustible natural resources. Prerequisite: 111.  

Social World Way of Thinking. Justice Thematic Encounter.
ECON 320 Market Structures and Firm Strategy (4)

At your local supermarket there are likely over 200 different kinds of ready-to-eat breakfast cereals, but a few dozen brands of carbonated beverages. However, both are dominated by few firms producing a majority of the brands. Why does this occur? Many markets such as automobile, airline, videogame and online video streaming share similar characteristics. How can we better understand such market structures as well the firms who sell us the products that we consume? In this course, we examine the pricing, output, and welfare implications of different market structures such as perfect competition, monopoly, oligopoly, and monopolistic competition. Topics frequently include the structure of production and costs, industrial regulation, pricing and advertising strategy, and the sources of firm dominance in an industry. Prerequisite: Econ 111.

ECON 325 Political Economy of Gender and Race (4)

Over the past five decades, the top 1% of American earners have doubled their share of national income, from about 10% of all income to 20%. What are the forces creating this inequality? How equal is the American labor market? Is access to education an indicator of inequality? Access to health insurance? How will “Generation Z” (that’s you) deal with growing income inequality, declining prime-age employment, and less economic mobility? To answer these questions, we need to have a good understanding of the economy and a big part of that is understanding an upsurge in differences across various social groups in the most important factors that trigger inequality – wages, education, and health. The course not only explores competing explanations for gender, racial, and ethnic inequality in the US but pays attention to the way these imbalances shape the ideas of citizenship and employment, and how some public policies can contribute towards disparity. Prerequisite: Econ 111 or Sophomore standing.

Social World Way of Thinking. Justice Thematic Encounter.
ECON 326 History of Economic Thought (4)

Are ticket prices high because the salaries of sports superstars are high or are salaries high because ticket prices are high? Economists agree that David Ricardo answered this question 200 years ago, though he was talking about land and not superstars. Will the citizens of a poor country with inefficient production processes simply lose jobs if their nation begins to trade with a rich country that produces nearly everything more efficiently? Ricardo and others in the history of the discipline had a lot to say about this too. A number of other important contemporary questions have been addressed – and in some cases “solved” – by economists long ago. This course investigates the development of the discipline of economics, starting with the ancient Greeks, but focusing on the last three centuries.

Human Experience Way of Thinking. Truth Thematic Encounter.
ECON 327 Economic Thought and Religious Values (4)

Does competition in today’s global markets contradict the religious concern for the common good? Should a Christian – called to love one’s neighbor – refuse to act out of self-interest in economic life? These questions are actually very old ones. This course will investigate these and other issues of economic life, starting with the Hebrew Scriptures 3000 years ago, through history from the early church, the Middle Ages, the Protestant Reformation, and contemporary debates about free markets, liberation theology, feminism, and the social teaching of the Roman Catholic Church today. Prerequisite:  THEO 111 and either ECON 111 or sophomore standing.

Theological Integrations. Theology Upper-Division (Common Curriculum).
ECON 328 Economics, Philosophy and Method (4)

We regularly hear competing explanations of why things happen, even among economists. What makes for a good scientific explanation? Is it the same in economics and psychology as it is in chemistry and physics? This course will investigate the philosophical debates concerning what makes for a good explanation in natural and social science, including disagreements about whether explanations in social science are fundamentally different because they apply to human beings. It will begin with the philosophy of the natural sciences, move on to the philosophy of social science, and then to disagreements among differing schools within economics, which often reflect underlying philosophical differences. Prerequisite: ECON 111 or Sophomore standing.

Human Experience Way of Thinking. Truth Thematic Encounter. Humanities Upper Division (Common Curriculum).
ECON 329A Behavioral Economic Ideas (2)

Examines social influences and psychological constraints affect household choices. Questions asked include the following: Why is having more choice sometimes detrimental to good decision-making? How do common decision rules and behaviors lead consumers and managers astray? How can better systems and incentives help people improve choices? How can the introduction of market norms undermine social norms? Why do most people lie, cheat, and steal just a “little bit”? Course will explore how behavioral economic findings can be applied in policy, business, and finance. Prerequisite ECON 111 or PSYC 111 or Sophomore Standing.

ECON 329B Behavioral Economic Analysis (2)

Focuses on how cognitive limits, social forces, and psychology interact to affect human decision making under conditions of uncertainty and over time. Traditional economic theories will be compared with behavioral economic models. The course will also explore behavioral games with applications to bargaining and questions of fairness. Applications will include considerations of risky behavior, insurance pricing and choice, savings and investment behaviors, eating/exercise behaviors, and the extent of cooperation in groups. Prerequisite ECON 111 or co-requisite ECON 329A.

ECON 329C Economics of Climate Change (2)

Examines the economic effects of climate change. Some important questions explored include the following: Which communities and countries are most affected by climate change? How does climate change affect agricultural production, our food supply, livelihoods, air quality, human health, and ecosystems? What are the different methods of measuring the economic cost of climate change? How do international climate negotiations like the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement or the UNFCCC meetings try to mitigate and prevent the effects of climate change? It also considers policy options that will help different communities and groups to adapt to climate change, and explores economic models and impacts of policies intended to affect the rate or nature of climate change. Pre-requisite(s): ECON 111 or permission of the instructor

ECON 329D International Economic History (4)

A survey of trends in the international economy since the industrial revolution. Primary emphasis on the role of trade in industrialization and growth. Other topics include the spread of the industrial revolution from Britain; the role of domestic and international financial markets in growth; the nature and causes of international business cycles; the international nature of the Great Depression; and economic growth since World War II. Prerequisites: ECON 111 or Sophomore Cohort Standing.

ECON 332 Microeconomic Theory (4)

Why have seat belt laws led to an increase in the rate of auto accidents? Why are some people workaholics and others take more time off to enjoy life? Why doesn’t the US allow buying and selling kidneys, even though this would extend the lives of those with kidney disease? These are the kind of questions we will be looking at in Micro Theory. This course examines how producers, consumers, and resource owners, acting through the market, determine the prices and output of goods, the allocation of productive resources, and the distribution of incomes. The market system is seen as a network of interrelated decisions, with prices communicating information among decision makers. Prerequisites: Econ 111 and one semester of calculus.

Abstract Structures Way of Thinking.
ECON 333 Macroeconomic Theory (4)

Why do some countries grow faster than others? What causes unemployment and what can the government do about it? What causes inflation? US households are saving more than ten years ago: is this good or bad for the economy? Is a recession coming soon? Macroeconomics studies aggregate economic activity, which affects the decisions of households, businesses, and policymakers. It focuses on saving, consumption, investment, and international economic influences that affect national output, inflation, and unemployment rates. The course will help students become informed decision-makers who can use analytical tools to understand today’s economy. Prerequisite: Econ 111 and one semester of calculus.

ECON 334 Quantitative Methods in Economics (4)

An examination of quantitative methods employed in economic research. Emphasis will be placed on a working knowledge of quantitative methods in economics, the economic meaning of quantitative results, and the ability to evaluate the appropriateness of alternative methods and types of data for particular economic questions. Students will regularly employ software and data sets available in print and on the Internet. Prerequisite: MATH 124 or 345 or HONR 260A & ECON 332 & 333 (one ECON course may be concurrent). Special note: If a student has completed the MATH prereq & either ECON 332 or ECON 333 but are not concurrently enrolled in the other ECON prereq, they may still enroll if they have completed another ECON 300 level that is numbered 300-329. In such cases, the students must submit a course override request form to the course professor. Fall and spring.

Social World Way of Thinking. Truth Thematic Encounter.
ECON 384 Advanced Research in Economics (4)

A directed research experience in economics. Application of economics research methodology and analysis in various sub- disciplines of economics. Each student intensively explores a topic and makes a formal presentation to the department. Prerequisite: 332, 333, 334 and one course numbered 350 or higher. Fall and spring.

Experiential Learning Designation (Common Curriculum).