Rice Economics Spring 2019 Newsletter - Page 3

Great Course on the Menu! Menu Main Course: ECON 200, Intermediate Microeconomics Appetizers: ECON 100, MATH 101, MATH 102 Master Chef: Professor James Brown Dinner is Served: Fall 2019, Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:50 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. Microeconomics, or ECON 200, is the second core course in economics for both ECON and MTEC majors. In the RICE ECON interview below, Dr. James Brown, the instructor for ECON 200, provides some helpful advice for students who are planning to take his course in future semesters. In particular, he recommends several ways that students can prepare themselves to succeed in and fully enjoy the material presented in ECON 200 (in addition to completing the required prerequisites of MATH 102 and ECON 100). How does ECON 200 build on ECON 100, and how are the two courses different? As an introductory course that covers both microeconomics and macroeconomics in a way that is suitable for majors and non-majors, ECON 100 is necessarily limited in depth. In contrast, ECON 200 focuses intensively on a smaller set of topics in microeconomics and does so with an emphasis on analytical methods and mathematical modeling. ECON 200 is designed specifically for ECON and MTEC majors and is intended to prepare them for more advanced economics courses they will encounter later. As such, ECON 200 presumes a level of mathematical readiness far beyond that required for ECON 100. How can students best prepare themselves for ECON 200? In ECON 200, we explore models in which individuals and firms are assumed to optimize under various constraints, modeling human behavior and market outcomes in ways that lead to precise and empirically testable hypotheses. Because algebra and calculus are so often essential to the development and verification of economic hypotheses, students should expect to see a considerable amount of math in ECON 200. Partial differentiation is frequently employed, so students will find it helpful to take MATH 212 either before enrolling in or concurrently with ECON 200. Come enjoy a gastroeconomical delight! What can students expect to take away from ECON 200? Students who participate actively and take full advantage of all course components should see substantial improvement in their ability to think analytically and to model individual behavior and market outcomes in imaginative and insightful ways. Many will discover that they love economics, both because it provides tools that allow them to think more effectively for themselves and because those tools can be applied to so many fascinating features of human behavior. Some may later discover a love of teaching if they serve as course TAs. A Student Perspective — Meghana Gaur, Lovett Class of 2019 (MTEC and Math) As a senior who took Dr. Brown’s course many semesters ago and served as a TA for the class for several semesters, I can honestly say that ECON 200 with Dr. Brown can be a truly transformative experience. I found the material incredibly eye-opening in terms of the wide applications of economic analysis, and it spurred my interest in pursuing graduate studies in economics. The class trained me to learn and appreciate a concept deeply before moving on to the next topic, a skill useful in all disciplines. ECON 200 is certainly a challenging course, and for many students the first course that pushes them to leave their academic comfort zone. I recommend that all students who take ECON 200 commit the time necessary to engage with the material further than what is typically expected in most 200-level classes and also take advantage of Dr. Brown’s willingness to teach you as much as he possibly can. Dr. Brown’s dedication to his students and passion for the material is a remarkable resource, but success in this class requires a serious commitment of time and effort to learn the material in a rigorous way. RISE Lecture - Nobel Laureate Christopher A. Sims The eighth event in the RISE (Rice Initiative for the Study of Economics) Nobel Laureate Lecture Series will feature Christopher A. Sims, who is the John J. F. Sherrerd ‘52 University Professor of Economics at Princeton University. Sims – along with Thomas Sargent (a previous speaker in the RISE series) – was awarded the 2011 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for “empirical research on cause and effect in the macroeconomy” which provided pathbreaking answers to “questions regarding the causal relationship between economic policy and different macroeconomic variables such as GDP (gross domestic product), inflation, unemployment and investments.” This work had a foundational impact on the field of macroeconomics and how it is applied by central banks and governments around the world. Sims has also held teaching positions at Harvard, Yale, and Princeton, and is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He will present his lecture on “How to Worry About Government Debt” on Thursday, March 21 at 5:00 p.m. at Duncan Hall in McMurtry Auditorium. We hope to see you there! 3