Economics

The principal objective of economics courses is to help students develop the ability to think clearly about complex economic, political and social issues and to gain an understanding of how the economic activities of private and public institutions or interest groups relate to issues such as inflation, unemployment, poverty, environmental quality, urban and regional problems, and international economic concerns.

A solid background in economics is valuable to students preparing for graduate work in economics, business, public administration, and law; it is also useful as preparation for possible careers in such diverse fields as business, law, government, medicine, social work, and education. Courses in the other social sciences, mathematics and computer science, English and foreign languages, also contribute significantly to preparation for such graduate study and career opportunities.

Advanced degrees in economics require a strong background in mathematics. Students who are interested in pursuing an economics education beyond the undergraduate level should strongly consider supplementing the major requirements with MATH 249 (Multivariable Calculus), MATH 253 (Linear Algebra), MATH 256 (Differential Equations), and MATH 446 (Real Analysis).

Requirements for the Economics Major (8 Credits)

8 credits in Economics

  • ECON 132 Introduction to Economic Inquiry (1)
  • ECON 230 Economic Statistics (1)
    • Note: Students taking ECON 230 will receive only 0.5 credit if they have completed MATH 138 or similar statistics course
  • ECON 363 Microeconomic Theory (1)
  • ECON 364 Macroeconomic Theory (1)
  • ECON 493W Capstone in Economic Inquiry (1)
  • Three elective credits in Economics (3)
    • At least one elective must be at the 400-level
    • The 400-level elective cannot be satisfied by ECON 496W

The Economics major is structured to progressively build the skills and tools of economic analysis. Students in the major begin with ECON 132 Introduction to Economic Inquiry, which introduces students to the discipline and lays the foundation for subsequent study. ECON 230 Economic Statistics can be taken concurrent with or subsequent to the Inquiry course. Students must complete Economic Statistics and the theory courses (ECON 363 Microeconomic Theory and ECON 364 Macroeconomic Theory) prior to enrolling in ECON 493W Capstone in Economic Inquiry.

Requirements for the Economics Minor (5 Credits)

  • ECON 132 (US) Introduction to Economic Inquiry (1)
  • ECON 363 Microeconomic Theory (1) or
  • ECON 364 Macroeconomic Theory (1)
  • Three other courses in Economics (3)

Indicators of Achievement

The overarching goal of our curriculum is to instill in our students the capacity for independent, critical inquiry into economic issues. The exercise of this capacity involves problem-solving, analytical reasoning, and the application of reflective judgment to reach defensible conclusions about questions for which there is no definitive answer (Gamett, Jr. Robert F. 2009. "Rethinking The Pluralist Agenda In Economics Education" International Review of Economics Education-8 (2) pp. 58-71.). These fundamental skills transcend the discipline of economics and are at the core of the capabilities we aspire to cultivate in all Willamette students.

In an effort to facilitate the development of such skills, the Economics Department has identified the following five student learning outcomes emphasized in the department’s curriculum:

The Student Learning Outcomes of the Economics Program include:

  1. The student can recognize economic theories as arguments. Economic theories can appear to be "fact" or "received truth," but they are neither. They are tools constructed by human beings as a means to understand particular aspects of the world in which we live. That is, they are arguments. As arguments they derive from premises--assumptions (stated and unstated) as well as the values of those putting them forward--and proceed to specific conclusions. A successful student will be able to identify the assumptions and values on which economic theories are constructed as well as the conclusions they reach.
  2. The student can understand economic arguments. A successful student can reproduce the deductive logic that links premises to conclusions in particular arguments. This requires knowledge of the analytical constructs (e.g. definition and calculation of basic economic indicators) and simplified models (e.g. the perfect market model) used to describe and analyze economic phenomena. It also involves the ability to apply deductive reasoning and problem-solving skills.
  3. The student can assess economic arguments. A successfully student can apply deductive logic, interpret evidence (including but not limited to statistical evidence), and apply moral/ethical reasoning to evaluate the premises and conclusions of an argument.
  4. The student can construct an economic argument. A successful student can formulate a question that needs to be researched, then master and assess existing arguments and evidence to reach a reasoned conclusion about that question.
  5. The student can communicate economic arguments. A successful student will be able to effectively communicate, both orally and in writing, his or her analysis of economic phenomena in an accessible way to the non-major.

Faculty

Visiting Faculty

    Professors Emeriti


    Course Listings

    ECON 132 Introduction to Economic Inquiry (1)

    This course introduces students to economic inquiry. We will address questions such as: What kinds of questions do economists ask? How do they go about trying to answer those questions? Why do economists disagree with one another? and How does this conversation connect to current public discourse? Drawing on the work of important figures in the history of economic thought, students will encounter the arguments of two major approaches to economic analysis as developed by E. K. Hunt in History of Economic Thought: A Critical Perspective.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Staff

    ECON 230 Economic Statistics (1)

    This course is an introduction to the statistical techniques used in economics. It covers descriptive statistics, probability, statistical estimation, and inference, hypothesis testing, and simple and multiple regression. May not be taken after IDS 138, MATH 138, or AP Statistics unless approved by instructor or Chair of Economics.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Mathematical Sciences, Social Sciences
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Mascarenhas, Negri. Sivers Boyce

    ECON 320 Discourse on Income Inequality (1)

    Rising income disparity has sparked heated public discourse on the nature, causes and impacts of income inequality. Some scholars maintain that inequality is a natural, healthy product of a capitalist market economy and a stimulus for competition and progress. Others insist that vast income inequality produces debilitating impacts on the economy and society. Some attribute inequality to openness to trade while others blame government taxes and other policies. This course will explore these different theories of income inequality and the policy implications of these contending perspectives.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Liang

    ECON 344 The Economics of Race & Gender (1)

    In this course students are exposed to the political economy of race and gender and will evaluate labor market outcomes and inequality from both the neoclassical and heterodox perspectives. Each perspective will be evaluated in terms of its assumptions, theories, and policy conclusions. Additionally, students will work through advanced race and/or gender related models from feminist, institutional, and behavioral perspectives. Within the context of these multiple paradigms the following topics/models will be addressed: labor market outcomes such as work, wages, and discrimination; household decision making and bargaining; institutional discrimination; public policies and race/gender; experimental economics and irrational behavior; and structures of constraint.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Knight

    ECON 350 Introduction to Econometrics and Forecasting (1)

    This course examines advanced statistical methods used to quantify economic and business phenomena. Topics include regression, regression specification and functional form, multicolinearity, serial correlation, heteroskedasticity. Skill in combining economic theory and available data to produce estimates using computer statistical routines will be developed.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Mathematical Sciences, Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 230; Prior coursework in Calculus is recommended
    • Offering: Fall
    • Instructor: Negri, Sivers Boyce

    ECON 351 Comparative Economic Systems (1)

    This course examines the nature and performance of different economic systems in theory and practice. Included are capitalist market economies, centrally planned economies, socialist market economies and the economic systems utilized in various utopian writings and experimental communities. The challenges of reforming the economies of the People's Republic of China, East European countries and the republics of the former Soviet Union serve as a contemporary theme for this course.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Taylor

    ECON 352 The Economics of Developing Countries (1)

    This course examines the structural characteristics of developing countries and major theories of economic development. Specific topics will include land reform, agriculture and industrialization, population and employment policies, the role of money and capital markets in development, trade and development, the impact of aid and foreign investment, and strategies for development planning.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Mascarenhas

    ECON 355 The World Economy (1)

    This course examines the historical evolution and dynamics of global capitalism, from the Great Divergence around the 1750s to the contemporary area. It focuses on competing perspectives on the rise and fall of nations and the interplays of these nations through global unequal exchange. Topics include globalization waves and cycles; technological and institutional forces of development and underdevelopment; international trade and monetary relations; and global governance.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate Years
    • Instructor: Knight, Liang, Mascarenhas

    ECON 363 Microeconomic Theory (1)

    Formal models are an important way in which economists develop and communicate their arguments. This course builds on Introduction to Economic Inquiry, introducing students to the formal tools, models and methods from two major approaches to economic analysis. Students will explore theories that seek to explain the formation and meaning of prices, individual and firm decision-making, the mix of goods and services produced in the economy, and the distribution of income and wealth among the participants in a capitalist economy.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Mascarenhas, Negri, Sivers Boyce

    ECON 364 Macroeconomic Theory (1)

    Formal models are an important way in which economists develop and communicate their arguments. This course builds on Introduction to Economic Inquiry, introducing students to the formal tools, models and methods from two major approaches to economic analysis. Students will explore theories that seek to explain the total level of economic activity in an economic system with special attention to the business cycle and the ways in which government spending, taxation and monetary policies influence unemployment, inflation and the rate of economic growth.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Knight, Liang, Taylor

    ECON 372 The Political Economy of Oil (1)

    This course examines oil’s influence on the global economy.  Topics discussed include: the evolving structure of the oil industry beginning in the 1930s and up to the contemporary era, OPEC, the market for oil and energy derivatives, and how oil abundance has influenced the institutional structure of some of the largest oil exporters such as Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela, Iran, Russia and Norway.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Taylor

    ECON 375 Topics in Economic Inquiry (1)

    In this course students will engage with the process of economic inquiry at an intermediate level to explore the contending perspectives around various contemporary issues. The topical foci of this course will vary, with each semester exploring the economic arguments around a particular issue from multiple economic perspectives. Assignments may include writing assignments of various length, oral presentations, and/or data analysis. Topics will be announced prior to class registration. Course can be repeated if topic is different.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 132
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Staff

    ECON 394-395 Major Program Internship (1)

    Supervised interns apply and extend principles developed in the Economics majors in public and private sector placements. Students accepted for this course will normally have second-semester Junior or Senior standing and will have completed most of the courses required for the Economics major. Interns work 10-12 hours a week at the internship site, complete an analytical paper or other report based on their internship project under the guidance of the instructor and/or the off-campus internship supervisor, and attend periodic class meetings with other interns.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: Consent of instructor
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Taylor

    ECON 431 Public Finance (1)

    This course provides an examination of the government's role in the U.S. economy with an emphasis on policy analysis using the criteria of efficiency and equity. Typical coverage includes the rational for government intervention, theory of public goods, externalities, public choice, impact of government upon the distribution of income, transfer programs, taxation, and the economic consequences of a federalist system.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Mascarenhas

    ECON 432 Work, Wages, and Compensation (1)

    This course examines competing views concerning the fundamental determinants of labor market outcomes, and explores the role of the labor market and other institutional factors in determining wages, employment and the distribution of income. Special consideration will be devoted to topics of poverty, underemployment and labor market discrimination.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Gray

    ECON 433 Financial Markets and Institutions (1)

    In this course students are introduced to the major financial institutions and markets, and the role they play in the U.S. economy. Topics addressed include: the functions of financial institutions and markets; the arguments of major financial theories such as the Efficient Market Hypothesis; the linkages between financial markets and the macroeconomy; the regulatory oversight of financial markets; and the relationship between monetary policy and financial markets.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 364
    • Offering: Alternate Years
    • Instructor: Liang, Taylor

    ECON 445 Environmental Economics (1)

    The economic paradigm can make important contributions to understanding and alleviating environmental problems. This course examines the shortcomings of the market mechanism for allocating environmental resources and of public policies for mitigating environmental degradation. Topics include externalities, common property resources, public goods, property rights and cost-benefit analysis. Special consideration will be given to several contemporary environmental problems.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363; Cannot be taken after ECON 345
    • Offering: Annually
    • Instructor: Sivers Boyce

    ECON 448 History of Economic Thought (1)

    This course will trace the development of economic thought from the decline of feudalism to the present while investigating Classical, Marxist, Neoclassical, Keynesian and Modern Heterodox theories. The goal will be to understand the various theories as well as the historical context in which they became important.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Gray

    ECON 451 Economic Simulation (.5)

    Students enrolled in this course participate in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition. This course provides students with a hands-on understanding of economic analysis and business management through business simulation models. Students in this course will manage a business in a computer-simulated industry. Participation in the course requires that students put into practice the tools of economic analysis they have acquired in other courses. This course does not count toward the Economics major or minor.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363 and consent of instructor
    • Offering: Spring
    • Instructor: Negri

    ECON 453 International Economics (1)

    This course examines the workings of the international economy with an emphasis on current policy issues. Competing economic theories will be used to study the patterns of trade, the effects of trade restrictions and the impacts of trade on growth and distribution. Financial relations among nations and the functioning of the international monetary system will also be explored. Other topics include balance of payment adjustment, exchange rate adjustment, and open economy macroeconomics.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 364; Cannot take after ECON 353
    • Offering: Alternate Years
    • Instructor: Liang, Mascarenhas

    ECON 454 The Next System (1)

    This course examines alternatives to capitalism. In Introduction to Economic Inquiry and Microeconomic theory student engage arguments from the production/conflict/labor theory of value tradition. Many of these arguments highlight the problematic nature of capitalism and beg the question: If not capitalism, then what? In this class, students will review arguments against capitalism, analyze historical attempts to establish a socialist alternative, and explore theoretical proposals for the design of the next system.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 363
    • Offering: Alternate years
    • Instructor: Sivers Boyce

    ECON 458 Mathematical Economics (1)

    In this course students work independently to explore the ways in which formal mathematical models can be used to analyze and interpret microeconomic and macroeconomic relationships and phenomena.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: Consent of instructor
    • Offering: On demand
    • Instructor: Sivers Boyce

    ECON 490 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

    This offering is designed to enable a qualified student to engage in supervised study in topics not covered in other departmental courses.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: Approval of instructor
    • Offering: On demand
    • Instructor: Staff

    ECON 493W Capstone in Economic Inquiry (1)

    In this course students experience the complete process of economic inquiry. Within the context of a given economic theme or topic, students will be involved in framing a question for analysis. Then, drawing on the analytical and empirical skills acquired in the major, students will work with evidence and theoretical reasoning published in the economics literature to develop and refine their own arguments about the answer to this question. Students will be asked to communicate these arguments orally and in writing appropriate for academic audiences.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered; Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 230 and ECON 363 and ECON 364 and Junior or Senior standing
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Staff

    ECON 498W Independent Research Seminar (1)

    Each student completes an independent research paper that builds on the theoretical pluralism developed in prior coursework. Drawing on the analytical and empirical skills acquired in the major, students independently develop a question of economic inquiry, work with evidence and theoretical reasoning published in the economics literature, develop and refine their own arguments on their chosen research question, and present, orally and in writing, the principle methods and conclusions of their independent research. This course will include production of multiple written drafts, as well as peer evaluation of other students’ work. Enrollment in this course requires advanced department approval of a research prospectus.

    • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered; Social Sciences
    • Prerequisite: ECON 493W and Senior standing and instructor consent
    • Offering: Every semester
    • Instructor: Staff