Economics at Carleton

Economics is the study of how individuals and societies make decisions under conditions of scarcity, and it seeks to provide a framework for analyzing the problem of scarcity. The careful application of economic principles to solving social problems can lead to outcomes that benefit all of society. Using resources in more intelligent ways increases the likelihood of alleviating poverty, mitigating environmental degradation, and providing for future generations through economic growth.

In our department, faculty members work together with students to study a common theoretical core and then apply these principles to a wide variety of topics. In evaluating alternative policies to achieve various objectives, we cast a critical eye on the assumptions of the models. When possible, we subject theoretical models to empirical testing.

Class size in post-introductory classes has ranged from 8 to 30 in recent years, with an average class size of around 20. There are approximately 50 senior economics majors each year, with ten full-time faculty members.

The wide variety of special programs and opportunities for Carleton economics majors reflects the wide concerns of economics as a discipline and the interests of both our students and faculty members. These opportunities include the possibility of double majors (with biology, environmental studies, mathematics, psychology, political science, international relations, and history, for example) and participation in interdisciplinary courses (e.g., cross-cultural studies, Latin American studies). In addition to standard computer applications, we employ software that facilitates sophisticated statistical analysis, model building, and economic experiments. Individual students or a group with a common interest may initiate independent studies. The department brings in a number of guest lecturers each year, including the distinguished annual Veblen-Clark Lecture in Economics, which has regularly included Nobel Laureates.

Faculty members vary in age, background, experience, and personality, but are united chiefly in their abilities to teach well and convey to students the excitement and value of studying economics. They apply the training received in leading graduate programs and in subsequent research activities to the problems facing a variety of economies. Faculty members have received grants for special studies from a variety of foundations, published articles in leading economics journals, and authored books. They have conducted research not only in the United States but also in Africa, Canada, Latin America, Europe and Bangladesh.