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Willamette University

900 State Street
Salem, Oregon 97301

503-370-6300 voice

Economics View this department's website

The principal objective of economics courses is to help students develop the ability to think clearly about complex economic, political and social issues and to gain an understanding of how the economic activities of private and public institutions or interest groups relate to issues such as inflation, unemployment, poverty, environmental quality, urban and regional problems, and international economic concerns.

A solid background in economics is valuable to students preparing for graduate work in economics, business, public administration, and law; it is also useful as preparation for possible careers in such diverse fields as business, law, government, medicine, social work, and education. Courses in the other social sciences, mathematics and computer science, English and foreign languages, also contribute significantly to preparation for such graduate study and career opportunities.

The Economics major is structured to progressively build the skills and tools of economic analysis. Students in the major begin with a two-semester principles sequence (ECON 122 Principles of Microeconomics and ECON 123 Principles of Macroeconomics) which introduces students to the discipline and lays the foundation for subsequent study. ECON 230 Economic Statistics and MATH 140 Modeling with Calculus can be taken concurrent with or subsequent to the Principles courses. Modeling with Calculus is a prerequisite for ECON 357 Intermediate Microeconomics, and both Modeling with Calculus and Economic Statistics are required for ECON 470. To complete the major in the proper sequence students should complete the intermediate theory courses by the end of the junior year. ECON 470 Advanced Topics in Economics is the penultimate course in the major. The Advanced Topics course applies the analytical and empirical tools developed in intermediate economic theory to a contemporary public policy issue and prepares students for an independent research project in the capstone course in the major: ECON 496 Senior Research Seminar.

Advanced degrees in economics require a strong background in mathematics. Students who are interested in pursuing an economics education beyond the undergraduate level should consider supplementing the major requirements with MATH 249 (Multivariable Calculus), MATH 253 (Linear Algebra), MATH 256 (Differential Equations), and MATH 446 (Real Analysis).

Requirements for the Economics Major (10 Credits)

9 credits in Economics, 1 in Mathematics

  • ECON 122 (US) Principles of Microeconomics (1)
  • ECON 123 (US) Principles of Macroeconomics (1)
  • A Calculus course (MATH 140 or equivalent)
  • ECON 230 (QA*) Economic Statistics (1) or
  • MATH 266 (QA*) Probability and Statistics (1)
       (Note: Students taking ECON 230 will receive only 0.5 credit if they have completed
MATH 138 or similar statistics course.)
  • ECON 357 Intermediate Microeconomics (1)
  • ECON 358 Intermediate Macroeconomics (1)
  • ECON 470 (W) Advanced Topics in Economics (1)
  • ECON 496 (W) Senior Research Seminar (1)
  • Two elective credits in Economics (2)

Requirements for the Economics Minor (5 Credits)

  • ECON 122 Principles of Microeconomics (1)
  • ECON 123 Principles of Macroeconomics (1)
  • ECON 357 Intermediate Microeconomics (1) or
  • ECON 358 Intermediate Macroeconomics (1)
  • Two elective courses in Economics (2)

For students opting to take Intermediate Microeconomics, a Calculus course, MATH 140 or equivalent, also is required as a prerequisite.

Indicators of Achievement

The overarching goal of our curriculum is to instill in our students the capacity to “think like economists.” Such thinking involves problem solving (e.g., minimize the cost of achieving a goal), analytical reasoning (e.g., deduce conclusions from a set of assumptions and postulated relationships) and critical thinking (e.g., rigorously examine economic analyses for faulty logic or unrealistic assumptions). These fundamental skills transcend the discipline of economics and are at the core of the capabilities we aspire to cultivate in all Willamette students.

In an effort to facilitate the development of such skills, the Economics Department has identified the following five student learning outcomes emphasized in the department’s curriculum:

The Student Learning Outcomes of the Economics Program include:

  1. The student can interpret statistical evidence to analyze economic phenomena. A successful student will be able to construct and interpret statistical evidence, including estimating economic relationships and hypothesis testing
  2. A successful student will understand the definition and computation of basic economic indicators. In addition, the successful student will understand the limitations of such indicators and possible remedies to these limitations
  3. The student can communicate economic concepts both orally and in writing to a non-technical audience. A successful student will be able to effectively communicate his or her analysis of economic phenomena in an accessible way to the non-major
  4. A successful student will be able to understand the construction of and predicted outcome of a perfectly competitive market. In addition, the successful student will understand the limitations of the market model, as well as the limitations of efficiency as a criterion for evaluating market outcomes
  5. The student can use economic analysis to analyze the predicted impact of policy. The successful student will be able to choose the appropriate theory to analyze the predicted effects of economic policy. In addition, the successful student will be able to draw on related economic concepts in their policy analysis


Course Listings

ECON 122 (US) Principles of Microeconomics (1)

This course is a basic introduction to microeconomic analysis and its applications for public policy. Tools, concepts and models of economic analysis will be developed and applied to public policy issues. The course will explore the philosophy and values inherent in economic analysis and examine empirical methods to test the validity of economic models. Topics include: consumer and producer behavior, pricing and the forces of supply and demand, market allocation of scarce resources, the distribution of wealth and market failure.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ECON 123 (US) Principles of Macroeconomics (1)

This course is an introduction to macroeconomics analysis and its public policy applications. Macroeconomics develops the analytical tools for examining how such aggregate economic variables as national output, the unemployment rate, the price level, inflation, interest rates, exchange rates, budget deficits, the money supply and economic growth are determined. The models developed will be applied to consider how international trade and fiscal and monetary policy influence economic activity.

Mode of Inquiry: Understanding Society

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ECON 230 (QA*) Economic Statistics (1)

This course is an introduction to the statistical techniques used in economics. It covers descriptive statistics, probability, statistical estimation and inference, hypothesis testing, and simple and multiple regression. ECON 230 counts for only one half credit if the student has completed MATH 138, MATH 266 or similar Statistics courses.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning (*)

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Negri. Sivers Boyce

ECON 331 Corporate Finance (1)

This course examines financial decision making and business and corporate finance and investments as related to the business structure and the institution. It examines corporate financial policies and structure, the capital markets and the mechanisms of investment.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Frew

ECON 340 Labor Economics (1)

This course examines competing views concerning the fundamental determinants of labor market outcomes. The course explores the role of the labor market and other institutional factors in determining wages, employment and the distribution of income. Special consideration will be devoted to topics of poverty, underemployment and labor market discrimination.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Gray

ECON 341 Industrial Organization and Public Policy (1)

This course examines the relationship between market structure, conduct of firms, and market performance. Emphasis is on determining optimal public policy toward mergers, concentrated markets, and anticompetitive practices. Conflicting schools of thought and their implications for public policy are examined. Topics include specific monopoly and oligopoly behaviors, cartel theory, public policy toward mergers among large corporations, and antitrust case history.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Whiting

ECON 345 Environmental Economics (1)

The economic paradigm can make important contributions to understanding and alleviating environmental problems. This course examines the shortcomings of the market mechanism for allocating environmental resources and of public policies for mitigating environmental degradation. Topics include externalities, common property resources, public goods, property rights and cost-benefit analysis. Special consideration will be given to several contemporary environmental problems.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Negri, Sivers Boyce

ECON 347 Public Finance (1)

This course provides an examination of the government's role in the U.S. economy with an emphasis on policy analysis using the criteria of efficiency and equity. Typical coverage includes the rational for government intervention, theory of public goods, externalities, public choice, impact of government upon the distribution of income, transfer programs, taxation, and the economic consequences of a federalist system.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Mascarenhas

ECON 351 Comparative Economic Systems (1)

This course examines the nature and performance of different economic systems in theory and practice. Included are capitalist market economies, centrally planned economies, socialist market economies and the economic systems utilized in various utopian writings and experimental communities. The challenges of reforming the economies of the People's Republic of China, East European countries and the republics of the former Soviet Union serve as a contemporary theme for this course.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Taylor

ECON 352 The Economics of Developing Countries (1)

This course examines the structural characteristics of developing countries and major theories of economic development. Specific topics will include land reform, agriculture and industrialization, population and employment policies, the role of money and capital markets in development, trade and development, the impact of aid and foreign investment, and strategies for development planning.

Prerequisite: ECON 122

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Liang, Mascarenhas

ECON 353 International Economics (1)

This course examines the workings of the international economy with an emphasis on current policy issues. Economic theory will be used to study the effects of trade among nations, the factors which influence trading patterns and the effects of trade restrictions such as tariffs. Financial relationships among nations and the functioning of the international monetary system will also be explored. Other topics include the role of trade in economic growth and development and the impact of foreign investment and the multinational corporation in both advanced and developing nations.

Prerequisite: ECON 122 required; ECON 123 preferred

  • Offering: Every fall
  • Instructor: Liang, Mascarenhas

ECON 357 Intermediate Microeconomics (1)

This course explores modern theories of the behavior of households and business firms in determining prices, the mix of goods and services produced in the economy, the allocation of scarce resources and the distribution of income and wealth among the participants in a market economy. The successes and failures of different types of markets are considered along with public policies aimed at improving the performance of markets.

Prerequisite: ECON 122, MATH 140 or equivalent

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Frew, Sivers Boyce, Whiting

ECON 358 Intermediate Macroeconomics (1)

This course examines theories of how consumption, investment and government spending behavior influence the total level of economic activity in an economic system and the impact of foreign trade on the national economy. Also explored are the ways in which government spending, taxation and monetary policies influence unemployment, inflation and the rate of economic growth.

Prerequisite: ECON 123

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Gray, Liang, Taylor

ECON 394-395 Major Program Internship (1 or 2)

Supervised interns apply and extend principles developed in the Economics majors in public and private sector placements. Students accepted for this course will normally have second-semester Junior or Senior standing and will have completed most of the courses required for the Economics major. Interns work 10-12 hours a week at the internship site, complete an analytical paper based on a project under the guidance of the instructor and the off-campus internship supervisor, and attend periodic class meetings with other interns. Two credits are granted only in exceptional circumstances.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Gray, Negri

ECON 448 History of Economic Thought (1)

This course will trace the development of economic thought from the decline of feudalism to the present while investigating Classical, Marxist, Neoclassical, Keynesian and Modern Heterodox theories. The goal will be to understand the various theories as well as the historical context in which they became important.

Prerequisite: ECON 122 and ECON 123

  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Gray

ECON 451 Economic Simulation (.5)

Students enrolled in this course participate in the International Collegiate Business Strategy Competition. This course provides students with a hands-on understanding of economic analysis and business management through business simulation models. Students in this course will manage a business in a computer-simulated industry. Participation in the course requires that students put into practice the tools of economic analysis they have acquired in other courses. This course does not count toward the Economics major or minor.

Prerequisite: ECON 357 and consent of instructor.

  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Negri

ECON 452 (QA) Introduction to Econometrics and Forecasting (1)

This course examines advanced statistical methods used to quantify economic and business phenomena. Topics include regression, regression specification and functional form, multicolinearity, serial correlation, heteroskedasticity. Skill in combining economic theory and available data to produce estimates using computer statistical routines will be developed.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Quantitative and Analytical Reasoning

Prerequisite: ECON 122, ECON 123 and ECON 230, MATH 140 or equivalent.

  • Offering: Fall
  • Instructor: Negri, Sivers Boyce

ECON 458 Mathematical Economics (1)

In this course students work independently to explore the ways in which formal mathematical models can be used to analyze and interpret microeconomic and macroeconomic relationships and phenomena.

Prerequisite: Consent of instructor

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Sivers Boyce

ECON 470 (W) Advanced Topics in Economics (1)

This course examines an economic theme or topic using the analytical and empirical skills developed at the intermediate theory level. The course culminates in a project proposal for the Economics Senior Seminar course and in a major paper which develops core components of the proposal. Assignments include written and oral evaluation of the work of both peers and professionals, multiple drafts of the research paper and classroom presentation of principal methods and conclusions.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: ECON 230, ECON 357 or ECON 358 (determined by instructor) and MATH 140 or equivalent

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

ECON 490 Independent Study (.5 or 1)

This offering is designed to enable a qualified student to engage in supervised study in topics not covered in other departmental courses.

Prerequisite: Approval of instructor

  • Offering: On demand
  • Instructor: Staff

ECON 496 (W) Senior Research Seminar (1)

Each student completes a research paper that builds on analytical methods from the required courses in the major. Other activities include written and oral evaluation of the work of both peers and professionals, development and presentation of a research paper and presentation of principal methods and conclusions.

General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing centered

Prerequisite: ECON 357, ECON 358 and ECON 470

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff