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Improving Undergraduate Economics Education at USC

Sunday, January 8, 2017 16:44
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In my capacity as the Director of Undergraduate Studies at USC Economics, I worked hard during Fall 2016 to put together some interesting programming for our students.  Our set of fall events is listed here and here is the new USC Economics Review (our undergraduate journal).   In Spring 2017, we will hold more events where students will meet and eat pizza and talk about economics.  Given the diversity of our students in terms of their interest in economics and their career goals, we are structuring a major that allows for multiple different paths.   Economics is the largest major at USC Dornsife and we are determined to be the best major in the College.  What does the word “best” mean?   I want it to mean that students both become better problem solvers, are proud of their choice, do not regret it relative to other options and that they use their economics education to achieve their goals.     Jed Kolko has written an excellent piece discussing how new economy firms use economics and this lays out a blue print for what I want our students to achieve.  For those with a taste for research, I want them to match with our growing faculty to work as research assistants and to identify mentors to help them on their own independent research initiatives.

We will make undergraduate economics great again!  We are investing more in our Ph.D. graduate program to both recruit students with the capacity to do original research who also will be good teachers in our undergraduate sections.  I am personally training our current students to do a better job educating our undergraduates.  In my office hours with my undergraduates and by speaking to them in the Economics Lounge, I learn about what we are doing well and what we need to do better in order to compete with the Ivy League economics departments.   I have taught at Columbia, Harvard and Stanford and I know what those schools do right.

Finally, for those students who want to work on some hard economics problems — here is my $1 resource for you to ponder.


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