“May you live in interesting times!” — reputed to be an ancient Chinese curse.
These certainly do seem to be interesting times in which to be studying economics. The college students of today have discovered themselves to be living in a rather turbulent economic landscape, to say the least. As well, the political leadership and the electorate, and even the economics profession to some extent, seem to be having trouble agreeing on what to do about this.
Here at the University of Denver students in economics seek to understand how the social apparatus which governs the production and distribution of goods and services works. Students inquire into the causes of the process of economic growth and development, both within and across nations, and examine its social impact. They study topics such as the availability and consequences of government policy alternatives, the relation of the financial markets to the economy, the impact of the increasing globalization of economic activities, or the interaction of the economy with both the natural and the social environment. They also study how economic theories have developed over time to address these various topics.
The major uniqueness of our program is due to the fact that our faculty have a somewhat broader view of what Economics is about than is found in the average Economics program in the U.S. We present alternative perspectives on the historical and present-day relevance of our material. Our curricula encourage students not to take in received knowledge as the truth but to examine it and question it.
We regard the economy as one element of a complex society, so we feel that to understand the aspects of society pertaining to Economics, students have to understand something about the other elements as well. Related benefits arising from our approach are that it decreases the “dryness” of Economics often experienced by students and that it lends itself quite readily to emphasizing the importance of writing. Indeed, the department prides itself on the fact that we emphasize written assignments and critical thinking in our assessment of student performance. We also consider our use of primary sources and greater reading assignments than one finds in the typical U.S.Economics curriculum to be huge benefits to our students.
The study of Economics provides students with the knowledge required to be a strong citizen-participant in economic affairs. Economics majors are prepared for a wide variety of careers in government, business, finance, politics, and education. It is also an ideal major for students who plan to pursue higher degrees in law, business, or international studies. Indeed, the kinds of writing and mathematical skills that a student can acquire in our program can prove to be very valuable to a graduate, no matter what road he or she may follow.