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Senior Seminar Descriptions

Spring 2024

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
InstructorProf. Murat Yilmaz
Day/TimeWed. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Economics of Industrial Organization
This seminar will focus on a variety of topics within industrial organization, which is concerned with the study of imperfectly competitive market structures and strategic interaction among firms. The topics to be covered include but are not limited to price discrimination, product differentiation, dynamic competition under demand shocks, entry deterrence, and also some behavioral concepts that are widely incorporated into the study of industrial organization, such as loss aversion and inequity aversion. A reading list will be provided along with a few recommended textbooks. Each student is expected to give two presentations: one on a paper chosen from the reading list, and another on the student’s agreed-upon research topic. A term paper based on the student’s research topic is required. Active class participation during the lectures and presentations is expected.


GU4911 (Sec. 2) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
InstructorDr. Sunil Gulati
Day/Time: Mon. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
TopicSports 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
InstructorProf. Graciela Chichilnisky
Day/Time: Wed. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
TopicGlobalization and its Risks
The world is being transformed by dramatic increases in flows of people, goods and services across nations. Globalization has the potential for enormous gains but is also associated to serious risks. The gains are related to international commerce where the industrial countries dominate, where economic growth in based on a highly resource intensive (including fossil fuels energy) industrial production and exports and while the risks involve the global environment, poverty and the satisfaction of basic needs needed for survival of the human species that affect in great measure the developing nations. Both are linked to a historical division of the world into the North and the South-the industrial and the developing nations. Key to future evolution are (1) the creation of new markets that trade privately produced public goods, such as knowledge and greenhouse gas emissions, as in the Kyoto Protocol carbon market embodied and financially executed in the EU ETS that successfully reduced CO2 emissions by 5% in participating nations from those the base year (2005) over 20 years ago; which now requires a more drastic embodiment as Carbon Removal Market (according eg to the UN IPCC and the US National Academy of Sciences) to reduce the enormous increase in Legacy emissions caused by in non- participating nations (including USA and China), using recent breakthrough carbon removal technologies that can reverse climate change.


GU4911 (Sec. 4) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
InstructorProf. Douglas Almond
Day/Time: Mon. 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
InstructorProf. Brendan O’Flaherty
Day/Time: Tues. 10:10am – 12:00pm
TopicCriminal Justice
Crimes can impoverish us, take our most precious possessions, make our lives miserable, injure us, and even kill us. So can the actions of those who are supposed to be protecting us from crime. We examine how to trade off these two dangers in a realm where considerations are not always utilitarian. Topics may include mala prohibita vs mala in se; Beccaria vs Lombroso; what police do; police stops; particular crimes (murder, robbery. domestic violence; weapons offenses); prosecution; incarceration and  other forms of punishment; algorithmic decision-making; long swings in crime; and police homicide. Most of these topics have important racial and gender dimensions which will not be ignored. Students will make presentations in class and write a research paper.


GU4911 (Sec. 6) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Andrew Abere
Day/Time: Thurs. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Economics of Antitrust (Competition Policy) 
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.


GU4911 (Sec. 7) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Rosanne Altshuler
Day/Time: Tues. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
TopicEconomics of Tax Policy
Government expenditures are financed through the taxation of individuals and businesses. How should tax policies be structured and who should bear the burden of taxation? This seminar will focus on the economic analysis of tax policy. Topics include, but are not limited to, the impact of the individual income tax on decisions related to savings, labor supply, and investment; the effects of taxes on business decisions such as where and how much to invest; tax avoidance and evasion; and the distributional consequences of tax policies aimed at low- and high-income individuals. Each student is expected to give two presentations: one on a paper chosen from the reading list, and another on the student’s agreed-upon research topic. A term paper based on the student’s research topic is required. Active class participation during the lectures and presentations is expected.


GU4911 (Sec. 8) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
InstructorDr. Andrew Kosenko
Day/Time: Mon. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
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 critical for understanding economic behavior. We will discuss what economists mean by “information”, the significance and implications of having it, survey the basic models of information economics, and discuss contemporary issues in this field. 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.


GU4913 (Sec. 1) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Richard Clarida
Day/TimeThurs. 8:10am – 10:00am
TopicInternational Monetary Economics
This seminar will study and assess central bank policies in the world’s major economies in the first 20 years of the 21st century. The format will combine lectures with class discussion led by student presentations of recent central bank decisions.  Requirement for the course will be a term paper on the post pandemic monetary policy of a G3 central bank as well as presentation to the class of the paper.


GU4913 (Sec. 4) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Joseph Stiglitz / Dr. Karla Hoff
Day/Time: Wed. 10:10am – 12:00pm
TopicBehavioral Insights into Economic Development
The starting point for this course on behavioral development economics is the recognition that humans think and act very differently than economics has long assumed. Behavioral development economics has two strands. In the first strand, which incorporates insights into human behavior from psychology, the decision maker is the quasi-rational actor. Individuals, for instance, seem to save less than they should and come to regret the decisions that they have made. For specific behaviors that are inefficient and undesirable, government can often design “nudges” to help people avoid making choices they would later regret. This strand has led to advances in many kinds of policies that increase welfare—for example, policies that increase poor households’ savings to finance medical needs and the proportion of their children who are vaccinated.
But such policies are not about changing people—their aspirations, self-efficacy, and how they process information. Development entails individual and societal transformation. Promoting the desired transformation is the subject of the second strand of behavioral development economics and the main focus of the seminar. Here the decision maker is referred to as the quasi-rational, enculturated actor, a psychologically and sociologically more realistic decision maker than either the rational actor (the decision maker in traditional economics) or the quasi-rational actor. How individuals think and what they want are shaped by the social structures and cultures that they have experienced or to which they have been exposed.  A society can get stuck with dysfunctional beliefs and norms that impede economic development. Individuals and whole cultures, including even experts, can fail to learn from the information available to them because their conceptual frames bias their judgment.
Controlled and natural experiments in the past two decades show how widely shared concepts, identities, and narratives are factors in the choices all of us make. They frame the problems we try to solve and influence what we focus on, how we interpret it, and what we remember.
While the course begins by focusing on the determinants of individual behavior, its objective is to understand societal rigidities and change, and on that basis, to understand what kinds of public interventions might better promote societal change and, in particular, economic development. The course will look closely at many outcomes, including cooperation, corruption, discrimination, governance, and domestic violence. The interventions we study include programs designed to ‘graduate’ people from extreme poverty; quotas in elected political positions and in education to change stereotypes; mentoring programs that increase pro-social behavior; edutainment experiments that have promoted good nutrition and HIV-testing; participatory theater to reduce domestic violence; and an intervention to reduce impulsive behavior that has helped many males from impoverished neighborhoods avoid school suspensions and recidivism.


GU4913 (Sec. 5) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Tamrat Gashaw
Day/TimeMon. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
TopicTopics in Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Based Investing
This course (ECON GU 4913) 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/Time: Wed. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: Topics 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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