POEC 250(F) SEM Economic Liberalism and Its Critics

Economic liberalism holds that society is better off if people enjoy economic freedom. Its critics point to what they believe this position ignores or what it wrongly assumes, and hence, how it would make bad policy. This course explores the relationship between politics and economics by surveying influential works of political economy. Its first part examines major thinkers in relation to the historical development of capitalism in Western Europe and the United States: the classical liberalism of Adam Smith, Karl Marx's revolutionary socialism, and the reformist ideas of John Maynard Keynes. The second part considers mid-20th-century writers who revise and critique economic liberalism from a variety of perspectives, including Joseph Schumpeter, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase, Arthur Okun, and Albert O. Hirschman. The third part surveys significant topics relevant to the themes of the course, with applications to current public policy issues, such as: power relations and autonomy in the workplace; asymmetric information and social insurance; economic inequality and distributive justice; equality of opportunity; the economics of health care; positional goods and the moral foundations of capitalism; social media and addiction; economic nationalism; behavioral economics; climate change and intergenerational equity; finance and financial crises; and rent-seeking. The combination of the historical focus of the early part of the course with discussion of modern policy issues and debates in the latter part of the course permits you to appreciate the ongoing dialogue between classical and contemporary views of political economy. [ more ]

POEC 253(F) LEC Empirical Methods in Political Economy

This course introduces students to common empirical tools used in policy analysis and implementation. Students will develop skills in statistical literacy to become critical consumers of public policy-relevant research. The emphasis in the course is split between an intuitive understanding of statistical foundations, and applications in data visualization and science communication. Through hands-on work with data and critical assessment of existing empirical social scientific research, students will develop the ability to choose and employ the appropriate tool for a particular research problem, and to understand the limitations of the techniques. Topics to be covered include basic principles of probability; effective data visualization; statistical inference and hypothesis testing; and multiple regression analysis. A particular focus will be placed on understanding causality, the challenges of estimating causal relationships, and the design of evidence-based policy. Throughout the course, the focus will be on public policy applications relevant to the fields of political science, sociology, and public health, as well as to economics. [ more ]

POEC 397(F) IND Independent Study: Political Economy

Open to juniors or seniors majoring in Political Economy, with approval of a faculty supervisor and the chair. [ more ]

POEC 398(S) IND Independent Study: Political Economy

Open to juniors or seniors majoring in Political Economy, with approval of a faculty supervisor and the chair. [ more ]

POEC 401(F) SEM Contemporary Problems in Political Economy

This course examines contemporary problems in political economy at and across diverse spatial scales. Using both Economics and Political Science methods of analysis, students will study the way societies respond to the myriad risks facing its citizens. The goal of this course is both to build upon theoretical debates encountered in POEC 250 as well as to prepare students for the public policy analysis they will do in POEC 402. [ more ]

POEC 402(S) SEM Political Economy of Public Policy Issues

In this course, students form groups that conduct a political and economic analysis of a public policy issue of their choosing. They do extensive reading, conduct interviews in Washington, D.C. (during spring recess), write a major report on their findings and recommendations, and present and defend their findings in a public talk. Students visit Washington, D.C. Sunday night through Wednesday of the first week of spring vacation to conduct interviews relating to their group projects. This is a course requirement. [ more ]

POEC 493(F) HON Honors Thesis: Political Economy

Due to the special demands of this interdisciplinary major, the only route to honors in Political Economy is the thesis, a substantial and original work of scholarship. Students pursue the honors thesis course (Political Economy 493-W31) during the fall semester and winter study period. They work closely with two faculty advisors -- one in Economics, one in Political Science -- throughout the thesis process. [ more ]