“The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.” – Joan Robinson
My approach to teaching economic policy and theory emphasizes pluralism by introducing a number of schools of economic thought. By studying the variety of underlying assumptions and policy implications of theory, students become proficient in a number of intellectual traditions. When students learn that there are different perspectives in economics, their substantive knowledge of economics increases while they comprehend the social and political implications of different theories. For this reason, I design syllabi that balance teaching traditional economic theory with political economy perspectives. In the course I am teaching this semester, students are exposed to the theories of economic liberalism, as well as Polanyi’s critique of laissez-faire. In Economics of Health, we study traditional health economics material, such as the supply and demand for health services, as well as caring labor from a feminist economics lens and the socioeconomic determinants of racial health disparities. My goal is for students to develop an understanding of the complexity of economic questions and their relevance to real world problems and social justice issues.
My teaching method emphasizes seminar-style discussions, although I have also taught lecture-style classes that encourage student participation. My approach to teaching seminars has been greatly influenced by the pedagogy in Elements of Discussion (Backer, 2015). This method involves assigning short writing prompts as homework to encourage students to read carefully and prepare a discussion question to be shared in class. I teach formal models and use mathematics as way to deepen, rather than substitute for, critical thinking about the economy. For example, I have found that it is useful to present the Keynesian multiplier in three different ways: algebraically, illustrated graphically with a cognitive map, and also with a discussion of the historical context of the Great Depression. This allows students with different learning styles to fully grasp this essential concept.
Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY
Visiting Professor, Department of Economics
Courses Offered at Sarah Lawrence:
Regulating Labor, Land, and Capital: The Political Economy of Social, Environmental, and Economic Policy
Undergraduate Seminar: Open-Level, Fall 2016
Description: Among the most divisive and controversial questions in capitalist society is if and how to regulate markets. While the usefulness of policy is debated fervently, in reality there has never existed a completely “free market system,” as capitalist markets and economic policy developed in tandem. In this course, we will focus on what Karl Polanyi called the “double movement” of the development of capitalist markets for land, labor, and capital, and the corresponding growth of regulatory institutions for these special commodities. We will begin by delving into Polanyi’s classic text, “The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time,” as well as contemporary authors that build upon and critique Polanyi’s intellectual legacy. In the second section of the course, we will study labor and social legislation. We will discuss the historical foundations and contemporary challenges of the modern welfare state, with special attention to economic inequality. In the third section of the course, we will focus on the issue of land, broadly defined to include natural resources more generally. Our analysis will focus on how capitalist accumulation entails the distribution and extraction of natural resources and therefore laws that govern their use, particularly within the context of climate change. In the fourth section of the course, we will turn our attention to the regulation of capital and the use of monetary policy to control the money supply. This class will conclude by considering the applicability of Polanyi’s theory of policy in the 21st century.
Controversies in Microeconomic Theory and Policy
Undergraduate Seminar: Intermediate-Level, Spring 2017
Description: How do economists study economic behavior on the individual level? What must we learn about the nature of people, households, firms, and markets in order to understand capitalist society? How do our theories of individual behavior inform our interpretation of distributional outcomes? As an intermediate course in microeconomics, this course will focus on economic decision-making and theories of market mechanisms, production, distribution, consumption, and competition. To do this, we will cover a broad range of perspectives on economic behavior so that students will gain a deep understanding of the essential ideas that underlie contemporary economic, political, and public policy debates. Throughout the course we will also discuss a number of hotly debated questions about how to study economics including: methodological individualism, conflicting theories of value, the neoclassical representative agent, Friedman’s as-if proposition, the importance of microfoundations, among other topics.
The Economics of Health
Graduate Studies: Masters-Level, Spring 2017, Spring 2016, Spring 2015
Description: What are the differing perspectives from which economists analyze the economy? How do these perspectives impact policy prescriptions for the U.S. economy and the U.S. healthcare system? This course will attempt to answer these questions in three parts. First, we will begin by examining the basic theoretical conceptions of the economy from several important economic paradigms: classical, neoclassical, Keynesian, feminist, and behavioral. Our study of different schools of thought will inform our understanding of various economic policies. The second theme of our course will examine how our economic system impacts the health of individuals and communities. We will study the socioeconomic determinants of health to understand the relationships between race, class, and health outcomes. The third section of the course will examine how economists conceive of healthcare as a commodity, and how distinct healthcare models are financed in various advanced capitalist countries. Finally, we will examine the economic implications of the Affordable Care Act and the political economy of healthcare in the United States.
Syllabi available upon request.
ADDITIONAL TEACHING EXPERIENCE
The New School for Social Research, New York, NY
Teaching Assistant, Department of Economics
Historical Foundations of Political Economy, Fall 2013
The New School for Public Engagement, New York, NY
Teaching Assistant, Economics for Management and Public Policy, Summer 2015
Teaching Assistant, Economics in International Affairs, Spring 2013
New York Public Library, New York, NY
Introduction to Political Economy and Economics: A Six Session Course
Winter 2016, Jefferson Market Branch Library
Description: This course offers a critical introduction to the essential ideas economists employ to understand capitalism. Drawing upon the work of eminent economists such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman, this class will cover the fundamental claims and controversies in economic theory from classical, neoclassical, and Keynesian perspectives. Specific topics will include theories of economic behavior and market forces, with special attention to questions of income distribution, economic crisis, unemployment, and government intervention. Suitable for students new to economics as well as those with a prior background in mainstream economics or other social sciences. Class discussions will draw upon economic theories as well as current events and economic history in an effort to analyze the problems and possibilities of contemporary capitalism.
Syllabus available upon request.