Economics Program Mission and Goals
Introduction and Mission
" The Theory of Economics ... is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions."
J. M. Keynes
One can hardly pick up a newspaper these days without reading something about the economy; indeed, at times our media focus on little else. With an understanding of the basics of economics, regional and worldwide events that at one time seemed hard to understand become more clear and their economic effects more easily predicted. So, it’s no surprise to us that students are asking for courses in economics that give them a greater appreciation for economic theory and a greater understanding of our global economy.
At Loras College, the Economics Department strives to instill in our students a strong sense of local and global awareness, concern, and participation that will help them to become contributing members of society. From our introductory and intermediate theory courses to our senior applications seminars, the Economics Department at Loras provides students, both majors and non-majors, with the breadth of experiences that support their liberal arts degree and help them to become active learners, individual thinkers, and effective decision makers.
Department of Economics Mission Statement
The study of economics is the study of making choices, the study of decision making. It is a technique of thinking which helps us reach decisions. As a social science, economics is intended to help students to understand, think, and form opinions about and develop responses to the local, national, and global economic aspects of their lives. Towards that end, the economics department at Loras College offers courses for students who want to major or minor in economics or who wish to be exposed to the basic methodology and issues of economics. These courses help students become active learners, individual thinkers and communicators, and effective decision makers. In support of the liberal arts tradition, the department offers courses that fulfill general education requirements, as well as courses that are of service to other departments, notably: accounting, business, management, and international studies. As a department, we strive to instill in our students a strong sense of local and global awareness, concern, and participation that will help them to become contributing members of society.
The goals that we point out in the mission statement are to help students to become active learners, individual thinkers and communicators, and effective decision makers in areas concerning the economic aspects of their lives. We also encourage them to become active members of society. The means by which we achieve our mission is through our curriculum which may be divided into five sets of requirements: twenty-one hours in economics principles, theory, and fields; six hours in applied economics; nine hours in mathematics (6) and statistics (3). Students are exposed to a wide variety of sources of economic information. Within the economics knowledge and skills for critical thinking and decision making are practiced. Some of those skills include:
Evaluating sources of information.
The ability to choose from alternative sources the most reliable and accurate source relative to a given subject.
Separating positive from normative.
The ability to make a distinction between factual statements (what is and can be empirically verified) and statements of opinion (what ought to be and cannot be proven).
Identifying stereotypes. The ability to identify oversimplified, exaggerated descriptions based upon misinformation or lack of information. What we like to call "kitchen table" economics.
A Global perspective. The ability to recognize attitudes or opinions of superiority that judge another culture, group, or economic system in terms of one’s own location.
The department’s commitment to the liberal arts tradition, as articulated in our mission statement, is fulfilled by three courses: the principles level courses in macroeconomics and microeconomics, and a third course, contemporary economic issues. In these classes, students are exposed to and participate in discussions on local, national, and global issues and their economic consequences. We concentrate on problem solving and decision making with the use of economic models to demonstrate these issues from several different perspectives. In this way, we familiarize our students in the use of the tools of economists and their applications to world problems. It is also essential for students to learn of the various social relationships that exist in an economy. The effect of one person’s actions cannot be understood without recognition of the interactions with others. These social relationships of production bring forth various institutions within society and call forth a particular ideology. Understanding how collective behavior may control individual behavior allows students to form opinions about and to develop responses to policy aspects within the economic realm. Inclusion of such a study permits students to cross over from positive economics to normative economics. The basic understanding of the economy and the tools of economic analysis that allows students to logically develop these responses are conveyed through descriptive economics, graphical analysis, and mathematical modeling. A core curriculum in economics that lacks breadth or balance will create an excessively narrow image of the discipline. To broaden the image, this core of principles courses balances mathematical technique and economic substance with institutional behavior and a sense of economic history. These courses provide a "broad brush" survey of tools, concepts, and models, and an in-depth treatment of select issues. Upon completion, a student is familiar with a portfolio of models and techniques of economic reasoning. The use of written work, homework problems, papers, presentations, and class discussions provide students, majors and non majors, with the breadth of experiences that support their liberal arts degree.
The skills that economics majors obtain from the above course of study are the following:
Critical judgment: analyzing ideas, reviewing literature, formulating pertinent comments.
understanding and solving problems, making and analyzing logical arguments.
seeing practical implications of abstract ideas, analyzing real world policies and processes.
finding and manipulating data sources, translating statistical theory into functioning programs.
speaking and writing effectively with clarity off style, understanding spoken and written ideas of others.
conceiving interesting research questions, finding new ways of analyzing topics.