Economics Learning Outcomes
“Economic education is about helping students understand the nature of their world, and that their world is not an alien unalterable system; rather, their world is a social construct, the form of which is the outcome of competing distributional objectives.” (Underwood, D.A. p.12, Forum for Social Economics, 2013, Pp. 5–23)
- 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.