Economics

economics

As an economics major at Saint Michael's you will explore the trends that are transforming our economy and changing the world we live in. Your classes will examine topics such as income inequality, immigration, international economic development, discrimination, globalization, health care reform, trade deficits, the U.S. debt, and more. In all your courses, you will learn a new set of analytical techniques, and critical thinking and communication skills that are in demand throughout the economy.

At Saint Michael's you'll find small, personalized, challenging economics classes taught by a group of dedicated faculty who bring diverse philosophical perspectives to the classroom, who care deeply about student learning, and who try to make economics relevant and fun.

Your first courses will teach you about key economic concepts and the role of markets, along with how to measure and interpret Gross Domestic Product (GDP), unemployment and price levels. You'll examine economic instability through a study of causes and policy prescriptions from two major opposing schools of thought: Classical and Keynesian. You'll learn about interest rates and the Federal Reserve and consider current policy debates on international trade, monetary and fiscal policy, the deficit, economic growth and productivity. You'll also have an introduction to how economists interpret the everyday decisions of consumers, businesses and workers and apply economic analysis to real-world questions like minimum wage, business profits, taxes, outsourcing and environmental policies.

Later courses cover statistical thinking as applied to such topics as probability distributions, regressions, correlation, analysis of variance and so on. Advanced macro- and micro-economics classes in our department delve deeper into theories and policies surrounding income and price level, interest rates and monetary and fiscal policy. You'll more closely examine market failures and government involvement in the economy.

Your studies will culminate as a senior in a research thesis. You will prepare an original research proposal on a topic that interests you, conduct research, and present your results with close faculty guidance from start to finish.


Sample Four Year Plan for Economics Majors

First Year
Fall Spring
EC 101 Principles of Macroeconomics  EC 103 Principles of Microeconomics 
First Year Seminar MA 130 or 150 Calculus
  Liberal Studies courses    Liberal Studies Courses 
Sophomore
Fall Spring
EC 205 Statistics for Economics EC 312 Microeconomic Theory
EC 311  Macroeconomic Theory Economics elective
  Liberal Studies courses    Liberal Studies courses 
Junior
Fall Spring
Economics elective Economics elective 
Senior
Fall Spring
EC 410 A Senior Seminar in Economics I EC 410 B Senior Seminar in Economics II 
Economics elective Economics elective
       

There are many options to sequence the Economics major. For example, students may take their theory courses in the Sophomore or Junior year. Your faculty advisor will help you develop a plan that matches your interests and career goals. Students are encouraged to look at the college catalog to find the wide-range of Economics courses we offer and familiarize themselves with pre-requisites for  upper level courses.

Herbert Kessel, PhD

Professor of Economics

Contact Professor Kessel

Saint Edmund's Hall 353
Box 166
802.654.2460
hkessel@smcvt.edu
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Education:

M.A., Ph.D. Boston University
B.S. University of Rhode Island
 

Courses Taught:

  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Senior Seminar in Economics
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Econometrics
  • Business and Government
  • Labor Economics and Income Distribution

Approach to Scholarship:

Approach: Engaged scholarship which bridges the gap between theory, practice, and the community to make academic research more relevant. The resources of the Academy are used to solve public policy questions.

Areas of interest: Labor markets, poverty and income inequality, survey research, Vermont Exceptionalism, Government sponsored social welfare and employment programs.

My Life at Saint Michael’s:

I first arrived on campus in the fall of 1977 from Boston University’s Ph.D. program. My expectation at the time was to remain in Vermont for at most two or three years and then move on to a major research institution. But time intervened and I never left.  After being educated in major university settings, I began to appreciate the value of a small liberal arts college with a strong philosophical student centered and personalized education. I found that Saint Michael’s provided both students and faculty with an environment in which they could make a difference in the life of the institution. It is a place that believes deeply in the transformative possibilities of higher education. We never know what a student will be like when they graduate after four intense years of study, but through the years I have seen how the close mentoring process that is at the heart of the College and the growth that comes from facing new challenges and experiences, both academic and otherwise, results in students that are more self-assured, thoughtful, intellectually engaged and better prepared to live a meaningful life.   

What first attracted me first to Economics was a desire to learn more about the problems of poverty, income inequality and the ways that labor markets work. It has always been exciting to see how a set of simple principles, theoretical models and data can illuminate public policy and everyday life. I try to share with students my enthusiasm for learning and a conviction that economic ideas are stimulating, relevant and challenging.

Richard Kujawa, PhD

Professor of Geography

Contact Professor Kujawa

Saint Edmund's Hall 359
Box 144
802.654.2488
rkujawa@smcvt.edu
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M.A., Ph.D. University of Iowa
B.Sc. Brunel University, London

Courses I Teach:

  • Place and Placelessness (First Year Seminar)
  • Introduction to Human Geography
  • Urban Geography
  • Political Geography
  • Economic Geography
  • The Geography of Water
  • Environmental Policy
  • Community and Environmental Planning

My Saint Michael's:

In my classes, advising and in the human geography program, one-on-one contact is encouraged. I encourage students to present their findings to external audiences and professional conferences. I help students with graduate school applications (especially those in Urban and Regional Planning). In the past few years, I have helped Saint Michael's graduates successfully apply to Cornell, Rutgers, SUNY-Albany, Kansas State University, the University of Iowa and several others. I also have some connections for internships in the local area.

Hands down, my favorite thing about this college is the class sizes. At Saint Mike's I am able to shorten the distance between my role as faculty member and expert, and my role as motivator and mentor. I see part of my job as a salesperson for the power of intellectual growth and lifelong learning. I work hard each and every day to make the sale!

Tara Natarajan, PhD

Professor of Economics | Chair, Department of Economics

Contact Professor Natarajan

Saint Edmund's Hall 355
Box 234
802.654.2298
tnatarajan@smcvt.edu
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Ph.D. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
M.A. University of Bombay (Mumbai), India
B.A. Sophia College, Bombay (Mumbai), India

Areas of Expertise:

Theoretical Research: 1) Economic Thought: Theory &Philosophy, Methodologies & Practice; 2) Pluralism in Economics
Applied Research: 1) International Development & Poverty Studies; 2) Globalization, Institutions & Development Transformation

For examples of publications, please click on "Research"

Courses I Teach:

  • Economics of Development and Poverty
  • Economic Thought and Policy
  • Microeconomic Theory
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics (regular terms and summer sessions)
  • Senior Seminar
  • World Economies

My Saint Michael's:

I joined the college as a faculty member in 2001. Over the years I have realized that, the connection I develop with students, really matters to me. We first get to know each other in class, where I combine conversation and lecture along with spontaneous “call and response” modes of interaction. Our college engenders mentoring as an ethos which when combined with manageable class sizes, makes it possible for me to connect with students during extended sessions in my office to help and reinforce their understanding of the material. These interactions also provide the conversational space not only to explore a variety of topics related their career and academic interests but also lighter conversations about music and food for example. As a teacher, advisor and mentor in a residential liberal arts college, I am able to develop an ongoing relationship with many of my students, mentees and advisees during their four year college career which often continues after they have graduated.The kind of personal investment we make in each one of our students is a mutually reinforcing process between students, faculty and all those connected with them in a variety of capacities outside of classes. These relationships create our evolving institutional ethos and collective values at the college.

As a social scientist, specifically an economist, I understand the world as a social construct. The economy is socially, philosophically and culturally embedded, simultaneously shaping and shaped by values, through historical time and by events. The economy is alterable, evolving, and most importantly complex. My commitment to scholarship, teaching, and service are articulations of how I understand and live in the world. These three aspects of an academics avocation, for me are expressions of living both consciously and conscientiously.

My thoughts on Teaching

Reza Ramazani, PhD

Professor of Economics

Contact Professor Ramazani

Saint Edmund's Hall 357
Box 133
802.654.2360
rramazani@smcvt.edu
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Education

M.A., Ph.D. University of Colorado, Boulder
B.A. Ghazvin College of Economics, Iran

Areas of Expertise:

  1. International Trade
  2. International Finance
  3. International Macroeconomics
  4. Environmental Economics

Courses I Teach:

  • Environmental Economics
  • International Economics
  • Statistics for Economics
  • Macroeconomic Theory
  • Senior Seminar
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics

Patrick Walsh, PhD

Associate Professor of Economics

Contact Professor Walsh

Saint Edmund's Hall 363
Box 365
802.654.2682
pwalsh@smcvt.edu
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Ph.D. University of Michigan
B.A. Washington University in St. Louis

Areas of Expertise:

Economics of education; focusing on competition in education; sorting among schools; and peer externalities. Other topics include occupational choice and occupational switching.

Courses I Teach:

  • Economics of Health Care
  • Principles of Macroeconomics
  • Principles of Microeconomics
  • Public Finance
  • Money and Banking
  • Macroeconomic Theory

My Saint Michael's:

I chose to pursue a Ph.D. in economics so that I would have the opportunity to show students that economics is a powerful, interesting, and relevant way of understanding the world's problems.

Saint Michael's is a tight community where the individual doesn't get lost. As a young faculty member, I can have a much greater impact at Saint Michael's - both in and out of the classroom - than I can at a larger university.

The lights really come on when students see that economics offers a way to make sense of real-world issues. I think students gain a real sense of power in being able to cut to the core of an economic question.

Saint Michael's students are willing to have fun in their classes. While they are receptive to an in-class demonstration or exercise, these experiments can get some laughs, and yet they will ultimately stick in the students' minds better than a straight lecture.

My favorite class to teach is Principles of Microeconomics. My goal is to get students excited about economics during their first exposure to the subject. Even if they don't take any more classes in economics, I want them see how economics is a powerful, interesting, and relevant way to address today's problems.

The class sizes at Saint Michael's allow students to do more project-based work in my courses. Students in Public Finance design their own healthcare system, education system, and Social Security system - and then have to design the taxes to pay for it all.

I’ve taken the opportunity presented by digitial media to take my passion for Economics to the wider world.  I’ve created a YouTube channel, https://www.youtube.com/user/thateconguy/ that features short videos on a variety of subjects, including Minimum Wage, Free Trade, Taxes, Welfare, and Healthcare Reform.  Check it out if you’re interested in an example of the dynamic teaching at Saint Michael’s.

Outside the classroom, I’ve had the opportunity to supervise a number of students in summer research projects.  Under my supervision, they’ve posed a research question, gathered their own data, and used statistical methods to answer that question.  Students have studied the differences between U.S. and French healthcare systems, developed computer models of the economy, and examined the impact of funding on educational outcomes in New England.

Economics opens up many job opportunities.  As an economics major you will learn analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills that are in demand by many firms and government agencies.  After graduation, our majors go on to careers like:

  • Financial Analyst
  • Mutual Funds Associate
  • Senior Research and Statistics
  • Equity Derivatives Specialist
  • Financial Services Coordinator
  • Global Relations Management
  • Internal Sales Representative
  • Market Research Analyst
  • Account Manager
  • Climate Solutions Advisor
  • Policy Analyst

You'll find recent Saint Michael's economics graduates working at places like:

  • Bank of America
  • UBS Financial Services
  • Travelers Insurance Company 
  • NativeEnergy
  • Cabot Creamery
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • State of Maryland
  • Fidelity Investments
  • HSBC Bank

The major provides an ideal background for those who hope to pursue advanced degrees in business, law, public policy, or economics.  Recent graduates have pursued advance degrees in:

  • Law:  Syracuse, Boston University
  • MBA:  Clarkson, Boston University, Northeastern, Boston College
  • MA:  Duke, Tulane, Clark, University of Vermont
  • Ph.D.:  Rutgers, University of Michigan, University of Connecticut

To find out more about what our graduates are doing, see our Economics Alumni Profiles.  For more information about careers in economics generally, visit the American Economic Association.

You'll have opportunities to apply your knowledge to real-world situations through internships with businesses and organizations such as:

  • National Life Insurance
  • Northeast Water Resources Network
  • Nowak and Nowak Financial Services
  • UBS Paine Weber Financial Services
  • Vermont Department of Labor
  • Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program
  • Wells Fargo Securities 
  • Williams & Associates Financial Services

We support internships whenever, in the judgment of the department, the internship substantially adds to the student's background in economics. The internship must in some significant way be relevant to the discipline and offer an educational opportunity not found in traditional course work. We believe that internships can be important to a student's educational experience for many reasons. We will specifically evaluate internship proposals on the basis of their academic merit. Approval of an internship proposal is based on the quality of a student's proposal and the academic character of the candidate. The department is selective in its sponsorship of students and selective in its acceptance of internship sites.

Please click here for Guidelines, Policies, and Procedures.

As an Economics major you will have the opportunity to conduct research on and off campus.

Senior Seminar in Economics (EC 410 A-B) provides all Economics majors with the opportunity to complete a major research project on a topic of their choice.  This two semester class includes a review of research methods and skills and an exposure to peer-reviewed scholarly research in various sub-fields in economics. In the first semester students prepare an original research proposal. During the second semester students complete their research, submit a final written thesis, and present their results. 

Recent student research topics include:

2016

  • Predictors of Orphan Product Approval: A Comparison Between the United States of America and the European Union - Brianna Healy
  • Effort and Compensation: An Analysis of NBA Players’ Productivity in Contract Years - Nate Hodge
  • Renewable Portfolio Standards: Solar Energy Investment in the United States - Erica Kamerzel
  • The Impact that School Size and Administration Costs Per Pupil Has on Student Outcomes In Vermont’s Public High Schools - Tanner Pratt
  • The Price of a “Great Wall” - Michael Conor McNally

2015

  • Engendering Social Change for Long Term Development: A Model Comparing Three Types of NGOs - Sarah Healey
  • What is the Role of Intellectual Property Rights in Innovation and Economic Growth? A Cross-Country Analysis - Amanda Battista
  • Drinking Water Infrastructure in Rust Belt Cities: Public Health and Finance Challenges in the Twenty-First Century - Peter McKenna
  • Determining the Feasibility of Universal Anti-Retroviral Drug Therapy for HIV Patients in Developing Communities: A Comparison of the Economic Agent Across Two Frameworks - Benjamin Rosbrook
  • Does E=α? A Comprehensive Study of Environmental Impact Based Investing - August Koch

2014

  • The Relationship Between Gender Diversity in Executive Management and Financial Performance - Courtney Bedell
  • Predicting Rigor: Criteria for Qualification of State Special Education Programs - Katelyn Heath
  • Political Economy and the Effect of Human Capital on Indigenous Population of Guatemala - Christopher George
  • The Impact of Sugar Protections on Food Prices - Silke Hynes 

2013

  • Do Major League Baseball Teams Receive a Return on Investment in First-Year Player Draft Signing Bonuses? - Jessica Morrissey 
  • The Impact of Malpractice Payouts on the Supply of Physicians within U.S. States - Kaitlyn Newdorf
  • Does the Presence of Capital Punishment Deter Murder? - Nick Colangelo 
  • Do Increased Athletic Expenditures Lead to Increased On-Court/On-Field Success Among NCAA Division I and II Athletic Programs? - Rachele Bernache

Students can apply for competitive funding to do in-depth research projects during the summer through the Trustee Scholar Summer Research Fellowship program.

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