The purpose of this assignment is for you to take an interest in either an economist/economic theory, or real world event, and relate to the Classical theory presented throughout second half of the course. I have provided a list of topics to write on. You may either write on one of the suggested topics below, or approve a topic idea with me to write on via email, office hours, in class, etc..
Requirements: You should aim for about 2-4 pages, although there will not be a specific length requirement. Papers must demonstrate understanding of some economic history topic(s) presented in the class and relate these topics and theories to the topic of your paper. Papers earning grades of “A” and “B” must formally cite the author you are writing on, information from the class, and outside information demonstrating a connection between your author, the class, and your topic, and the highest scoring papers will be successful at drawing some relevant connection to the modern world. MLA Format tends to be the standard for economic writing. If there is a pressing reason for you to use an alternate format, we can talk.
Topic Ideas (You may also approve an alternative topic with me):
- Choose an author or economist of either a present or past era. Carefully explain one key model or idea of this author. Relate this work to the themes/authors from the second two modules of class. If this is an author on our class reading list, you must go beyond what was presented in class for full credit, and some relevant connection should be drawn to the modern world.
- Choose a movie or book. Carefully explain how the plot, themes, or motifs of the movie relate to the economic theory presented in the final two modules, and how it relates to the modern economy.
- Choose one modern market which you believe should or should not be regulated (pick one, not one of each). Clearly explain your position on regulation within this market, using external sources to justify claims. Papers must consider their own position in detail, but also the most relevant costs of regulation/non-regulation, and why in light of those costs your position is preferred. A position that either regulation or non-regulation is costless will not be considered valid without extensive justification.
- Authors such as Veblen in the late 1800’s-early 1900’s wrote about conspicuous consumption as purchases made with the sole intent of displaying wealth. To what extent does conspicuous consumption occur today, and of what relevance is it to the modern economy? This paper must utilize outside resources to support your claims. Personal anecdotes are not considered evidence.
- Using the example of at least one policy decision from your country of choice (US being the default, but you should specify), describe which economic ‘School of Thought’ the policy most closely adheres to. For example, in class, we briefly discussed the March 2020 stimulus plan. Describe the elements of your chosen policy, placing each clearly within a school of thought.
Grading: Your paper will be graded according to the following standards. I will review drafts of your paper submitted by class on the Friday before the due date.
Introduction (20 points): Should not exceed about half a page. Clearly state your thesis. The most important aspect of an effective introduction is to concisely state what you are talking about and why anyone should care. If the topic is more academic in nature, explain what the value is to academia/history of economic thought.
Body (60 points):
Explanation of Concept (20 points): Clearly explain one concept. This can be either one of the five choices above, or an author/idea you have approved with me. In doing so, you should assume that the reader has no prior understanding of the subject.
Main Body (40 points): Relate your concept to at least one author we studied in Modules 3 and 4, making sure to carefully cite your sources. Relate your concept to the modern economic world or to its importance in the history of economic thought, bringing in external sources.
Conclusion (20 points): Should not exceed about half a page. Restate your thesis, main conclusion, and the most important pieces of information to your argument.
A (90-100): Clearly explains one focused economic concept/model. Relates this concept to material learned in class, with correct citation. Brings in external sources which aid which strengthen the argument.
B (80-89): Clearly explains an economic topic. Relates this concept to material from class with correct citation and uses external sources. Small errors in argument or understanding of authors’ work or could use additional explanation from class or external sources.
C (70-79): Explains one or more economic topics. Unclear in its focus or lacking in accuracy of understanding and relating authors and concepts from class. Clear topic, but lacking explanation, etc..
D and below: Does no more than explain/summarize a concept. Fails to incorporate understanding of authors from class and/or use of external sources.