Senior Seminar Descriptions
Economics Senior Seminar Descriptions
Seminars listed below are only open to CC and GS undergraduate economics majors.
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/)
PLEASE NOTE: This semester ALL seminars will be open to all Econ, Fin Ec and Econ-Math majors, and all seminars will satisfy the seminar requirement for the Financial Economics major.
GU4911 (Sec. 1 ) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Bernard Salanie
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: Prof. 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. Navin Kartik
Day/Time: Tues. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Applications of Game Theory
This seminar will introduce you to some advanced topics in game theory and empirical applications. On the theoretical front, we will study topics such as zero-sum games, signaling and signal jamming, beauty contests, information aggregation, social learning, behavioral game theory, and matching. On the applications front, we will look at sports, negotiations and auctions, charitable contributions, voting, labor markets, and medical residency matching. Some background in game theory, such as ECON W4415, is preferable.
GU4911 (Sec. 4) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Andrew Kosenko
Day/Time: Thurs. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
Topic: The Economics of Information
This is a seminar that 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 of having (or not having) it, survey the basic models of information that are used in economics, and finish the didactic part by discussing some of the empirical evidence on the implications of information asymmetries. The second part of the seminar will consist of student presentations of their work.
GU4911 (Sec. 5) 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.
GU4911 (Sec. 6) MICROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Laetitia Placido
Day/Time: Thurs. 12:10pm – 2:00pm
Topic: Decision Under Risk, Time and Uncertainty: An Experimental Perspective
This seminar focuses on models of decision-making under risk, time and uncertainty and introduces the use of experimental methods as a test of the validity of the rational decision-maker paradigm. We will review the models, their limits (as highlighted by experiments) and their refinements. We will introduce methods to measure individual preferences over risk, time, uncertainty, that students will use in their research project. The research project consists in designing an experiment to test a particular behavioral hypothesis.
GU4913 (Sec. 1) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Prof. Gouin-Bonenfant
Day/Time: Mon. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Distributional 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
Instructor: Dr. Edmund Phelps
Day/Time: Tues. 2:10pm – 4:00pm
Topic: Three New Theories in Macroeconomics
This senior seminar on macroeconomic theory is divided into three parts. The first part is about new insights into the determination of the level of economic activity – labor force and unemployment – the area pioneered by Pigou and Keynes almost a century ago. (In today’s advanced economies that activity would include, strictly speaking, both the activity of the labor force and the activity of the robot force.) This new theory, involving expectations of real interest rates and real prices of assets – capital goods or customers – determines share prices, employment and wages. In the case of an open economy, the model also determines a country’s real exchange rate. The distinctive case of China is examined. We will also read something on robots.
The second part is about sustained economic growth, its widespread rewards and its sources. The serious loss of this such growth in the early ‘70s and again around 2005 in the “lead economy” – that of the U.S. – and the resulting loss of growth in the West as a whole has had serious consequences. Labor force participation of men has been in a serious decline until recently, growth of wage rates started slowing in one country after another as early as the late ‘60s, and job satisfaction has been trending down for decades. All this presents another challenge for macroeconomists. These and related developments raise questions about causation and cure. Standard macroeconomics – neoclassical and Keynesian – is fundamentally inadequate. Society’s economy is not a machine that can be cranked up as desired: It is a living, organic entity, composed of the participants, there ideas and their values. We will read portions of the existing treatise on the question, Mass Flourishing, and tests of its hypotheses in Dynamism.
The third part of the course takes up dimensions of economic performance that lie outside both Keynesian economics and neoclassical economics: job satisfaction and, more broadly, the fascination and energy that came from the West’s “modern project” of exploration, creation and innovation, which was sparked in Britain around 1820 and some decades later in America and wound down in the mid-20th century. This historic wave of innovation helps us to understand the key sources of endogenous, pervasive innovation and the key forces operating to weaken and block innovation.
GU4913 (Sec. 3) MACROECONOMICS Seminar
Instructor: Dr. Hassan Afrouzi
Day/Time: Wed. 6:10pm – 8:00pm
Topic: Macroeconomics 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
Instructor: Dr. Joseph Stiglitz / Prof. Karla Hoff
Day/Time: Wed. 10:10am – 12:00pm
Topic: Behavioral 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: Prof. Tamrat Gashaw
Day/Time: Mon. 4:10pm – 6:00pm
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.