How I Teach

I have three objectives as a teacher:

First, my responsibility is to orient students to the economic way of thinking; that is, facilitate their understanding of the concepts of scarcity, competition, and opportunity cost.  These concepts, when mastered and complemented by the:

  • Role of incentives
  • View that a substitute exists for everything
  • Idea of comparative-statics

are powerful analytical tools. 

Second, it is my responsibility to demonstrate the versatility of these tools.  The evaluation of choice, in my classroom, is not confined to traditional economic actors and/or determinants (e.g., prices and income).  My students are encouraged to recognize and appreciate the contributions of other disciplines (e.g., political science, anthropology, and sociology); therefore, my classes examine choice in an interdisciplinary context (e.g., a woman’s reproductive choice, a soldier’s choice to fire a gun or retreat in combat, and a nation’s environmental policy). 

The exercise of traditional economic concepts in an interdisciplinary context, I believe, empowers students to approach the world critically and comprehensively, while also valuing its complexity. 

Finally, it is my responsibility to produce students who can communicate their thoughts to others, whether in the written form or verbally.  The power of persuasion is severely constrained if one is incapable of capturing and holding onto one’s audience.   

Contrary to its reputation as the “dismal” science, I labor to highlight an aspect of economics that is routinely undervalued – namely, economics engenders commiseration.  That is, students, when they comprehend the mechanics of choice in an interdisciplinary context, come to understand the rationality of choices that they may have previously considered perverse and/or inexplicable.  For example, the resistance of individuals and/or organizations to the implementation of particular public policies becomes understandable when students have the tools with which to identify the sacrifices these groups must make.  The awareness and sensitivity that the economic way of thinking engenders in others motivates my effort.