Chair: Professor Tara Natarajan
Professor: M. Reza Ramazani
Associate Professors: Patrick M. Walsh
Assistant Professor: Allison Oldham Luedtke
The economics major provides an understanding of economic theory and institutions. Additionally, the major prepares students to apply this knowledge in the analysis of a wide range of economic problems and policies.
Students majoring in economics have a broad range of interests. Some seek training for careers in business or industry; others seek preparation for graduate school in economics, finance, business administration or law; some simply have an interest in the social sciences and are particularly intrigued by economic problems while others hope to use their knowledge of economics to improve societal outcomes through their work in government and non-profit agencies. The economics program is designed to accommodate this diversity of interests among majors.
The major consists of core courses at the introductory level, followed by skill-building courses in statistics and mathematics, after which students take two intermediate or upper level courses in macroeconomic and microeconomic theory. Beyond this, students choose a sequence of economics electives that are consistent with their interests. All students in the major work closely with an advisor in the department to plan their program of study. Students also complete a two-semester Senior Seminar in economics consisting of weekly meetings with a faculty advisor. This seminar enables them to pursue research on topics that interest them with the guidance of the faculty member. At the end of the spring semester, students discuss and present the results of their work to their peers and professor. Additionally, some seniors also have the opportunity to present their findings at a college wide research symposium at the end of the academic year.
Note that students should complete Economics 101 or 103 prior to enrolling in other economics courses, unless specific exception is made.
Students in good standing have the opportunity to apply for internships in economics. These are taken during the junior or senior year. Except in unusual circumstances, internships are not a substitute for a regular elective. The department also encourages students to study abroad.
Economics Learning Outcomes
- The recipient of a B.A. in Economics must have knowledge, tools and skills acquired over a four year period and a minimum of eleven courses in the program.
- First and foremost, their knowledge is based in theoretical and conceptual foundations of economics.
- Second, their tools and skills comprise of quantitative methods such as statistical, mathematical, econometric techniques and non-quantitative methodologies of analysis such as integrated approaches to studying economies, and policy studies.
- Students must gain comfort with analyzing questions from a quantitative perspective.
- Students must be able to use common statistical procedures ranging from simple hypothesis testing, descriptive statistical methods and basic regression analysis.
- Familiarity with using theoretical models to describe and predict human behavior and that of markets under a variety of conditions and contexts.
- Familiarity with economic history and the intellectual evolution of economics. The latter consists of basic familiarity with major thinkers and schools of economic thought.
- A well-developed understanding of key economic concepts, including but not limited to opportunity cost, comparative advantage, competition, the role of prices and profits, markets and market failures, productivity, Gross Domestic Product accounting, business cycles, income and wealth inequality, measurements of poverty, human development, interest rates, exchange rates, externalities;
- Students must understand the workings of markets and government, the public sector and the private sector; the basic interconnectedness between product markets, factor markets and financial markets both domestic and global.
- Students must understand the role and functioning of key domestic and international institutions such as the Federal Reserve, Treasury, International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the World Bank along with the basics of public finance and social programs such as social security and varieties of taxes.
- Second, the recipient of a B.A. in Economics must have experience applying these “tools” to real-life circumstances, and be able to communicate the insights of economics to laypersons. These applications include:
- Recognizing the economic basis for phenomena in everyday life
- Understanding the dynamics of fluctuations in the U.S. Macroeconomy, both historically and as they happen
- Understanding the dynamics of movements in prices and profits in particular industries or occupations, both historically and as they evolve in the present
- Understanding the economic approach to the environment and being able to critically evaluate the following: alternative environmental standards, benefits and costs of environmental protection, and incentive-based environmental policies
- Understanding the phenomena and data related to income and wealth inequality, poverty, both domestic and global.
- Correctly predicting the economic consequences, both intended and unintended, of public policies in the microeconomic sphere, such as taxes, subsidies, price controls, labor regulations, and entitlement programs
- Correctly predicting the economic consequences, both intended and unintended, of public policies in the macroeconomic sphere, such as fiscal policy, monetary policy, government debt, and trade policies
- Correctly predicting the economic consequences of national and global trends, as well as the choices of individuals and firms
- Being able to evaluate the economic impact of tariffs and non-tariff barriers and identify the validity and efficiency of protectionist policies
- Constructing convincing arguments, in formal and informal settings, that explain the economic point of view on all these issues to non-specialists.