Senior Seminar Descriptions
PLEASE NOTE: Summer Seminars are listed at the bottom of this page.
Economics Senior Seminar Descriptions
Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors.
NOTE: All 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 major. Check 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. 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. 2) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Lena Edlund
Day/Time: Wed. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Seminar in Gender Economics
This seminar will take a critical look at the family. We will discuss the social, biological and material origins of different family systems, as well as consequences thereof, with a particular focus on the status of women. Sample questions include: Why would sons be considered more valuable than daughters, and why more so in China and India than in the West? Despite similar levels of son preference, women’s status appears greater in China than India, is that correct and if so why? Medieval Europe and 20th century East Asia are prominent examples of growth miracles; what do they have in common? Is contemporary Western family post-patriarchal? #MeToo, why now? Is surrogate motherhood the future?
Active class room participation and a term paper are required. (Rev. 3/2021)
GU4911 (Sec. 3) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Neal Masia
Day/Time: Thurs. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Public Policy, Economics and the Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry accounts for nearly 20% of GDP in the United States. This seminar will explore the links between major public policy events – for instance, healthcare reform or recent Medicare and Medicaid changes – and the financial prospects and implications for various healthcare industry sectors. Lectures will examine how current and potential public policy decisions impact the bottom line and the behavior of key industry sectors including pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, doctors, insurance companies, nursing homes, and others. Each student will conduct research on an industry sector and a live public policy or regulatory issue of their choosing. Students will be expected to use their quantitative and analytic toolkit to evaluate how a key government policy (or potential policy within the health reform context) is likely to affect the industry’s fortunes and behavior going forward, with implications for consumers, investors, and future policymakers.
GU4911 (Sec. 4) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Tri Vi Dang
Day/Time: Tues. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Private Equity & Hedge Fund Investing
This seminar course discusses the economics of professional asset management with special focus on private equity and hedge fund investing. The aim of this seminar is to provide the students with the analytical skills and conceptual frameworks necessary to significantly deepen their understanding of asset management. The first part of the course examines how private equity funds and hedge funds as the two most prominent alternative investment vehicles are raised and structured. The second part of the seminar discusses the deal making of private equity managers as well as various investment strategies of hedge fund managers.
GU4911 (Sec. 5) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Prajit Dutta
Day/Time: Mon. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: Economics of the Arts
The seminar will survey the art market. Readings will include exploration of the business model and common practices of for-profit art galleries and the primary and secondary markets for art sales. Art appraisals, auctions, art collectors and art as investment will be discussed in detail. Students will be required to attend an art auction.
GU4911 (Sec. 6) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Benjamin Ho
Day/Time: Mon. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: The Economics of Trust
Civilization is built on cooperation, and cooperation is built on trust. Yet while the likes of Ken Arrow and Amartya Sen noted that only a “rational fool” would neglect the importance of relationships and trust, it’s not something that comes up often in economics classes. Using the tools of behavioral economics, experimental economics, and game theory, we investigate the institutional history of trust from its origins in human biology to the advent of blockchain. Along the way we will investigate the institutional origins of religion, international trade and the rule of law, examine the role of trust in modern markets and financial systems, and examine how trust is central to solving the greatest challenges in human cooperation today, from public health to climate change.
GU4911 (Sec. 7) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Abere
Day/Time: Tues. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Economics of Antitrust and Regulation
The subject of this seminar course is government regulation of firms in the context of issues classified as antitrust and regulation. Sample questions include: Should a social media platform be broken up into a number of platforms? Will a merger of rivals lead to higher or lower prices? Should a firm be required to sell the products or services of its rivals on nondiscriminatory terms? Should prescription drug prices be regulated by the government? Attendance and a paper will be required. An effort will be made to bring in guest speakers from government agencies and the business community.
GU4913 (Sec. 1) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. M. Cary Leahey
Day/Time: Mon. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Modern Economic Crises 2007 and 2020: Causes and Consequences
This course will involve a wide-ranging discussion of the causes and consequences of modern economic crises, most notably the financial crisis of 2007 and the pandemic crisis of 2020. We will first put the 2007 and 2020 experiences into a broad historical perspective, discovering that financial markets, while necessary for modern capitalist economies, are fragile and sometimes break. In 2007, a combination of hubris, greed, debt, poorly understood financial innovation, and inadequate regulation and supervision contributed to the crisis and eventual “great” recession, the worst since the 1930s. In 2020, a self-induced economic lockdown reduced the pandemic health threat but caused an even deeper but shorter recession compared to 2007. The financial crisis has proven much different than 2007 with Wall Street doing much better than Main Street. We will learn how both situations were global in scope and how well economic policymakers handled them. We will compare economic and financial market performance with that of the “average” of other major disruptions, including the Great Depression. We will finish with a look at how the aftershocks of both crises are contributing to the societal discomfort both in the U.S. and around the globe.
GU4913 (Sec. 2) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Jennifer La’O
Day/Time: Mon. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Financial Intermediation and Macro.
Financial institutions are a pillar of the modern economy. Banks form a crucial link between borrowers and savers, channeling funds towards productive ventures, while managing economic risks and liquidity. This seminar strives to offer students an understanding of the theory of financial intermediation and banking, and the role financial institutions play in the macroeconomy. We will in particular study the topics of liquidity and financial fragility, and in addition examine historical periods of financial crises.
All economics majors who will have completed UN3211, UN3213 and UN3412 by the end of the current semester (Spring 2021) are eligible to take one of the two senior seminars that we are offering in the Summer A session. To register for one of these seminars, you will sign up for the wait list for the seminar. Priority will be given to students who plan to graduate in June or October 2021. Remaining seats will be given to eligible students in order of their position on the wait list.
GU 4911 Micro Seminar
Instructor: Andrew Kosenko
Day/Time: MW 12:10pm – 2:20pm
Topic: The 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.
GU 4913 Macro Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Andres Drenik
Day/Time: MW 10:00am – 12:10pm
Topic: Empirical Macroeconomics
This seminar will explore recent advances made in empirical macroeconomics. The goal will be to discuss applications of frontier econometric methods used in other fields in economics in order to test the mechanisms behind macro theory. The list of topics include: consumption/savings decisions, the effects of monetary and fiscal policy on the real economy, the role of the financial sector during the Great Recession, among others. Within each topic, we will briefly discuss the theory to guide us through the exploration of empirical research.