Thursday, August 24, 2006

Course Syllabus - Microeconomics

Nassau Community College
Department of Economics and Finance

Course Outline: Economics 208: Principles of Microeconomics, 2005 – 2006

Required Text: “Microeconomics” Custom17th Edition.
Campbell R. McConnell and Stanley Brue; Irwin/McGraw-Hill 2006.

Optional Texts: Other articles that I will incorporate into the class will either be provided by me or available free online.

“The ideas of economists and political philosophers, both when they are right and when they are wrong, are more powerful than is commonly understood. Indeed the world is ruled by little else. Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back”

John Maynard Keynes 1935

Instructor: Matthew Festa, MA E-mail:
Telephone: (cell) 516-987-0299 Dept: 516-572-7181
Office: None Office Hours: by request

Part I: What is this course about?
Catalog Description: . Overview of the economic problem, the traditional value theory, division of labor and its application to international trade. Analysis dealing with the behavior of individual elements in the economy. Organization of business, the various market structures, the theory of consumer behavior, price determination in the product and factor markets. Historic perspective of unions and their impact on the economy will be considered.

My Description: While economics can sound boring, it is actually a fascinating subject that has many broad applications. Essentially, the discipline focuses on a problem. That problem is that human desires are infinite. We all would like more stuff: tv’s, cars and vacations. However, there is not nearly enough “stuff” in the world to satisfy these unlimited needs. Therefore, we are forced to choose---economize---selecting A over B or B over C. This is essentially the problem that economics studies. Further, we economists have come to realize that people are often times not stupid in their desires as they oftent know what they want. With this further insight we can study an interesting phenomenon known as the invisible hand--- that is, people acting in their own self-interest tend to do what’s best for the economy as a whole. Granted there are important exceptions and limitations to this, but as a broad principle a market economy left on its own tends to produce better results than any comparable alternative that is more "planned." Finally, economics is not simply a dry discipline narrowly focused on “money.” Rather, economics has wide applications in politics, sports, movies, home life and a host of other subjects you would never think could be studied “economically.” I will try and incorporate various thinking on these subjects into the material.

Online resource: This semester I will try and incorporate the internet into the class. I found last semester that lots of quizzes, articles and even this very syllabus went missing for mysterious reasons that defy explanation. Therefore, I will try and get around that problem—and save some trees in the process—by posting most take home quizzes, class outlines, article, the syllabus and the course outline online on my blog. You can access this material here: On the right hand side are the links to all important documents so you do not have to search for them.

II Grades

30% exams (2 tests)
30% Final
30% Quizzes
10% class Participation

I will be giving 2 tests, the dates of which I will determine as the course progresses. Individually each midterm will be worth 15% of your grade. A final, given at the end of the term, will be 30% of your grade. I will be giving a take-home quiz/homework assignment once a week that you can take from the comfort of your home. Each quiz is 10 points. To get your quiz score you simply divide your points by the total possible quiz points. However, since quizzes can be annoying, I will do the following: I will allow each student the option of substituting his or her quiz average for their lowest midterm grade (note: this option is not available for the final exam). As you will soon learn, incentives matter, and this should provide you with enough of an incentive to take these quizzes seriously. It also gives you a bit of a leeway if a bad day occurs on one of the midterms. No Makeup exams will be given unless there is an extraordinary circumstance. If you believe you qualify please contact me immediately.

So what about class Participation? I am basing your class participation grade mainly on your attendance and your participation in class (i.e. questions are good, sleeping is not). I will allow up to 3 absences without penalizing your class participation grade. This should allow you room in the event that you cannot make any one class for whatever reason may arise.

Extra Credit: As a student I always loved extra credit opportunities and I believe they are a good learning tool. So here is how I will help you. If there is any article that you come across that is relevant to the class (either on your own or on the website) I want a 1-2 page analysis of what the article is saying and how it applies to what I have taught you. You can do up to three with each one worth 2.5 points.

Math Background: Economics is an empirical science and thus knowledge of mathematics is essential to success in the discipline. However, being that this is a principles class, I am going to restrict the math to the basics: so knowledge of arithmetic is required for this class. Calculators are permitted (as they will be when you get a job). You do not need to know advanced math, but I will ask you to do some arithmetic work on the quizzes and tests.

Withdrawal Policy – Department Policy for withdrawals is as follows: Students can withdraw from a course at any time up to and including the official withdrawal date of March 26th, 2007. After that date, students will only be given withdrawal for extraordinary reasons supported by appropriate documentation. This documentation should be copied and retained by the instructor.

The “W” grade is only guaranteed to those students who officially withdraw from class and obtain the faculty member’s signature during the automatic withdrawal period. Most important, a grade of “W” cannot be granted to any student who takes the final examination.

Note: The “W” grade may possibly impact financial aid and Academic Standing
Days Off

Note: There may be one or two times when a 6:30 start time may be slightly problematic (meaning I may be 10-15 minutes late). I will notify you a week beforehand as I can anticipate any possible problems.

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