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Course Syllabus

"One must learn by doing the thing; though you think you know it,
you have no certainty until you try." Publilius Syrus, Moral Sayings


Learning Objectives

The general objective of this course is to help you learn to think as an economist. Toward that end we will explore economics as economists see it -- not a collection of facts about markets but a powerful approach to thinking about almost all human behavior.

My specific goals are to help you become competent microeconomic technicians, to help you learn how to apply what you have learned to the "real world", and to help you develop an ability to explain what you are doing and why. The former goal will help you in the 200- and 300-level economics courses you will take to complete the major. The latter two goals help you develop crucial skills you will use for the rest of your life. The Department of Economics has also specified a set of tasks important for students majoring in economics to master. The tasks relevant to this course are listed below. Graded work related to them are marked "Task #_".

After successful completion of this course you will be able to:

  1. Explain basic and intermediate microeconomic concepts and apply them to new situations;

  2. Demonstrate command of basic and intermediate microeconomic concepts and graphical models.

Recommended Background Top of page.

Because the economic way of thinking sometimes seems foreign to the way of thinking about human behavior learned "on the street", learning economic theory requires dedication and systematic study in order to master its logic and structure. At the intermediate level this takes form in rigorous use of verbal reasoning and mathematical and graphical modeling. All three methods of inquiry will be pursued in this class. As a result, you must have a good grasp of freshman economic principles (ECO 105) and have retained much of what you learned in calculus (MAT 121) and statistics (ECO 138).

Textbook Top of page.

There is no textbook assigned to this course. All readings are on the course Web site under the Tutorials link at the top (and bottom) of every page. I require that you read the relevant tutorial(s) and related chapter(s) each week as an introduction to the material and as a way to prepare you for the assigned Excel workbooks and questions. Knowledge of the readings will reduce the time it takes you to "learn by doing the thing".

If, after reading a Tutorial, you would like additional informtion to help your understanding, I have three textbooks that I recommend:

  1. Microeconomics, Robert Pindyck & Daniel Rubinfeld, 5th edition, 2001, Prentice Hall.
  2. Microeconomics, David Besanko & Ronald Braeutigam, 2002, Wiley.
  3. Microeconomics and Behavior, Robert Frank, 2003, McGraw-Hill/Irwin.