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Senior Seminar Descriptions

Spring 2022

Economics Senior Seminar Descriptions

Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors.

NOTEAll seminars will satisfy the FE major for this semester.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL PREREQUISITES (ECON UN3211, UN3213, UN3412) must be successfully completed before the seminar may be taken—not after and not concurrently, otherwise the seminar will not count towards the majorCheck the CC/GS bulletin for all seminar prerequisites and details.

DAYS, TIMES and CLASSROOMS can be found on the Registrar’s DIRECTORY of CLASSES website (www.columbia.edu/cu/bulletin/uwb/)


GU4911 (Sec. 1) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Bernard Salanié
Day/Time: Tues. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: The Economics of Climate Change
This seminar will focus on the economic analysis of climate change: its economic causes and effects, as well as  policies that have been put forward to address it.   We will touch on a variety of topics: cost-benefit analysis, equity, trade, taxation, and regulation. A number of separate readings will be assigned. Seminar students are expected to actively participate in class discussions, make an in class presentation of selected readings and of original work and write a term paper on an agreed upon topic.


GU4911 (Sec. 2) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Sunil Gulati
Day/Time: Wed. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: Sports Economics
This seminar will focus on an economic analysis of the sports industry. Topics covered will include economics of sports leagues, the labor market for professional athletes, sports marketing and broadcasting, economic impact of teams & stadiums and antitrust policies. A number of guest speakers from the sports world (including the professional leagues and media industry) will be featured. One textbook and a number of separate readings will be assigned. Seminar students are expected to actively participate in class discussions, make an in class presentation of selected readings and of original work and write a term paper on an agreed upon topic.


GU4911 (Sec. 3) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Kosenko
Day/Time: Mon. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
TopicThe Economics of Information
In this senior seminar for economics majors we will focus on fundamental models of information economics. Information (and in particular, imperfect and asymmetric information) plays an enormous role in decision-making, and as such, is crucial to economic behavior. We will discuss what economists mean by “information”, the significance and implications of having it, and survey the basic models of information economics. The second part of the seminar will consist of student presentations of their work. We will discuss developing interesting ideas, going from ideas to a model, and some modeling tricks; these “tools of the trade” will help students independently develop and advance their own ideas.


GU4911 (Sec. 4) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Douglas Almond
Day/Time: Tues. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Environmental Economics
This seminar explores environmental economics and climate change mitigation from an applied-micro perspective. Readings include natural experiment-based “reduced form” research papers that utilize the practical and persuasive applied econometric tools such as difference-in-differences and the regression discontinuity design, as advocated by the most recent Nobel laureates in economics (Angrist, Card, Imbens). This empirical thread will be complemented by discussion of conventional environmental econ topics/frameworks, including why unregulated markets lead to suboptimal environmental outcomes due to market failures such as externalities and public goods. We will also discuss approaches for addressing market failures, including command-and-control style regulation, subsidies and taxes, pollution permits, and delineation of property rights. Students will initiate an original research project that leverages a natural experiment to support causal statements and inference, essential to identifying effective policies to address pressing environmental challenges and climate change.


GU4911 (Sec. 5) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Donald Davis
Day/Time: Wed. 8:10am – 10:00am
Topic: Cities and Economics
A quarter billion Americans occupy the 3 percent of the US devoted to cities. Our world is urban. Why are we so concentrated in so few places? When do cities work, when do they fail? For whom do they work or fail? Why? This seminar will focus on close reading and discussion of selected books. These include books by very distinguished economists. But they also include books by historians and other social scientists. The aim is to ask how you can take all you have learned in your undergraduate education in economics and apply it to think through social and public policy questions of pressing interest. For the large majority of students who will not pursue advanced training in economics, this is a seminar that will consolidate your ability to think carefully about the kind of social questions and problems that you will confront as a citizen and possibly as a policy maker. For those who do plan to pursue advanced training in economics, this will strengthen your ability to identify interesting problems in a broad social science literature that can be addressed more formally with the tools of economics. The seminar requires strong preparation for weekly discussions of the books, short weekly writeups, and a term paper on a topic relevant to the seminar.


GU4911 (Sec. 6) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Steven Olley
Day/Time: Wed. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
TopicAnti-Trust and Economics
This course will provide an overview of the economic tools and empirical methods relevant to antitrust law and policy. Topics will include economic and statistical methods used in antitrust merger review and in calculating damages associated with violations of antitrust laws. Specific topics may include: a review of the U.S. Horizontal Merger Guidelines; antitrust market definition; upward pricing pressure; challenges in estimating demand models; merger simulation methods; and tools for estimating antitrust damages in price fixing cases (and possibly other examples as well). Throughout, we will discuss how these methods would be used in selected current and recent antitrust cases.



GU4913 (Sec. 1) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Émilien Gouin-Bonenfant
Day/Time: Mon. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
TopicDistributional Macroeconomics
Economic growth does not benefit all workers and firms equally. This seminar provides an overview of how economic growth is measured and how we can use microdata to understand who benefits from it. We will cover macroeconomic models that incorporate heterogeneity at the micro level and will discuss recent trends such as rising inequality and declining business dynamism. Seminar students are expected to actively participate in class discussions, make an in class presentation of selected readings and write a term paper on an agreed upon topic.


GU4913 (Sec. 2) MACROECONOMICS Seminar


GU4913 (Sec. 3) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
InstructorDr. Hassan Afrouzi 
Day/TimeMon. 10:10am – 12:00pm
TopicMacroeconomics and Formation of Expectations
This seminar will explore selected topics and survey evidence in macroeconomics, with a focus on the expectation formation process of economic agents. We will start by going through some canonical models that are widely used for economic and policy analysis to understand the role of expectations in the decision making processes of households and firms. We will then go through a series of survey data and relate the empirical evidence to the theoretical predictions of the canonical models.


GU4913 (Sec. 4) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructors: Dr. Joseph Stiglitz / Prof. Karla Hoff
Day/TimeWed. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic Behavioral Insights into Economic Development
An exciting discovery (or rediscovery) in economics is that by taking into account culture, we can better understand and promote economic development. This seminar is an overview of the research in the new field of behavioral development economics. The seminar begins with an introduction to the first wave of behavioral economics, which focuses on universal, non-rational aspects of human thinking, including “fast thinking” and framing effects. Policy makers all over the world have designed “nudges” to help people avoid making choices they would later regret. Most of the seminar is about the second wave of behavioral economics that has arisen in the 21st century. It focuses on how our sociocultural experiences and exposure shape how we see and understand the world. It shows how the cultural lenses that we all acquire from the society around us influence our perception, cognition, preferences, and behavior. The mental models thus created mediate our experience, affecting how much we trust others and how we view things like government, gender roles, and race today.

The main objective of the seminar is to demonstrate that sociocultural experiences and the mental models they create influence not just individual behavior, but the social equilibria that societies attain. Paying attention to the ‘cognitive tool kits’ that members of a society have in common can help us understand societal rigidities and change. This understanding can, in turn, help us design interventions that influence behavior through multiple channels, including via role models, collaborative contact, mentoring, coaching, and immersion in fictional worlds. Rather than changing incentives, as policies in traditional economics do, these interventions help individuals expand their mental models of what is “imaginable,” possible, or desirable in their communities in ways that promote development.


GU4913 (Sec. 5) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
InstructorProf. Tamrat Gashaw
Day/TimeTues. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Topics in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Based Investing
This course is a senior level course on specific topics in Economics and Finance. The purpose of this seminar is to study some topics in Sustainable Economics and Finance/Investing using current empirical researches in the area. In this seminar, topics that are covering Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) indicators, both at macro- and micro-levels will be covered. Topics on ESG include corporate social responsibility, sustainable investing, performance of companies that pay attention to sustainability indicators, such as diversity in management/board, worker’s happiness, and pollution/environmental issues, will be covered. In particular, questions like: 1) Do companies that pay attention to sustainability (triple-bottom line) outperform others or the market portfolio? 2) Can welfare be enhanced if Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) investing is followed? 3) Does resource scarcity in the long run imply companies to follow ESG based investing? 4) Does social pressure lead to ESG based resource allocation? and so on.



GU4918 (Sec. 1) Seminar in ECONOMETRICS
Instructor: Dr. Seyhan Erden
Day/TimeWed. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
TopicTopics in Macroeconomics and Finance
This is an applied econometrics seminar focusing on macro and financial econometric applications about domestic and international markets. The Great Recession of 2008 clearly verifies the need for a deeper examination of links between volatility in financial markets and fluctuations in macroeconomic aggregates. In this seminar, we criticize and improve empirical papers that examine this link. The Covid-19 Pandemic injected an exogeneous shock to all macroeconomic and financial series. We study models on macroeconomic series and their forecasts as well as their mutual predictive power on equity and bond markets. We learn about ARIMA (Autoregressive Integrated Moving Average), VAR (Vector Autoregression) VECM (Vector Error Correction Models), volatility models such as ARCH (Autoregressive Conditional Heteroskedasticity process of Engle and many of its extensions). Additional topics include capital asset pricing models (CAPM), spurious regression, Structural VAR models, TAR (Threshold Autoregressive Models), Factor Models, IRFs (impulse response functions) and FEVD (forecast error variance decomposition), SVAR models with Panel Data. Students will learn how to conduct – and how to critique – empirical studies in financial and applied time series econometrics and related fields. Students are expected to choose a topic from a list of research topics and write a paper using econometric methods we discuss in this seminar.


1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)
Mail Code 3308  
420 West 118th Street
New York, NY 10027
Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.

1022 International Affairs Building (IAB)

Mail Code 3308

420 West 118th Street

New York, NY 10027

Ph: (212) 854-3680
Fax: (212) 854-0749
Business Hours:
Mon–Fri, 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m.
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