Courses

POEC 250(F)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 Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase, Arthur Okun, and Albert O. Hirschman. The third part surveys significant recent contributions relevant to the themes of the course, with applications to current public policy issues, including topics 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; economic nationalism and new trade theory; behavioral economics; 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)Empirical Methods in Political Economy

This course introduces students to common empirical tools used in policy analysis and implementation. The broad aim is to train students to be discriminating consumers of public policy-relevant research. The emphasis in the course is on intuitive understanding of the central concepts. 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; random variables and distributions; statistical estimation, inference and hypothesis testing; and modeling using multiple regression, with a particular focus on understanding whether and how relationships between variables can be determined to be causal--an essential requirement for effective policy formation. 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)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)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)Contemporary Problems in Political Economy

This course examines contemporary problems in political economy in the United States and across the developed world. Using both Economics and Political Science methods of analysis, students study the exercise of power and the accumulation of wealth in the world today as well as central public policy debates around those processes. We begin with a discussion of the philosophical foundations of economic policy-making. We then discuss welfare states in comparative perspective with special attention to the development of the American welfare regime. The remainder of the course is dedicated to particular issue areas of contemporary concern: pensions, health insurance, education, family policy, and immigration. The goal of this course is to build upon theoretical debates encountered in POEC 250 as well as to prepare students for the public policy projects they will do in POEC 402. [ more ]

POEC 402(S)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 ]