Advice to First-Year Students
ECON 101 (Principles of Microeconomics and Public Policy) and ECON 102 (Principles of Macroeconomics and International Trade) are the complementary set of foundation courses in economics. ECON 101 concerns the behavior of consumers, workers, businesses, and government in a market economy. The course addresses problems such as shortages, black markets, monopoly power, cartels, pollution, and the distorting effects of taxation and regulation. We also focus attention on government policies designed to solve some of these problems. ECON 102 concerns the overall performance of the economy, with attention to unemployment, inflation, recessions, government budget deficits and surpluses, financial markets, poverty, economic growth, and international trade. We study government policies designed to influence the overall economy and improve its performance.
ECON 101 and 102 are an excellent introduction to economics for those who plan no further work in the discipline, but they are also the foundation and prerequisites for all upper-level courses and the first courses in the economics major. They are also "foundation courses" for the International Studies major and the Public Policy concentration, as well as a core course for the Environmental Studies concentration.
ECON 101 and 102 are lecture and discussion courses with between twenty and thirty students in each section. Sections are taught by different instructors using different teaching styles. All sections, however, feature several essay examinations each semester and homework assignments, and in some sections there is also a paper. In addition to a common major text, most sections also assign readings about current issues.
ECON 101 and ECON 102 satisfy the Quantitative Requirement (QR). There is no MATH prerequisite for these courses; all techniques that we use in the courses will be developed within the courses. Some sections will use the Excel spreadsheet program for homework assignments. These courses do not require extensive mathematics or computer skills.
When should one enroll in ECON 101 and ECON 102?
Even though ECON 101 and 102 are challenging introductory courses, most first-year students who take these courses perform well. Those students who are most successful in the principles courses have a strong general preparation for college, reasonably good study habits, and academic motivation to keep up with reading and homework assignments every week. It is our experience that the principles courses can help students develop better study habits.
There are significant advantages in taking ECON 101 and ECON 102 as a first-year student. The courses prepare one to take virtually any other economics course starting in the sophomore year. Students who are seriously considering an economics major often find this early start helpful. If you are planning off-campus study during your junior year and you are either planning on majoring in Economics or taking economics courses off-campus, you should take ECON 101 and 102 in your first year. That will prepare you for more advanced courses and allow you to complete the intermediate theory sequence, which will provide you with a sound base for off-campus study.