GREAT BASIN COLLEGE

COURSE SYLLABUS

ECON 104 - ECONOMIC ISSUES

 

Spring Semester, 2006

Instructor: Glen Tenney

Office: Technical Arts Bldg (775) 753-2203

Office Hours:  M-TH, 4:00-5:15 p.m. 

E-mail:  tenney@gbcnv.edu
 
 

IMPORTANT PRELIMINARY ITEMS!

1.    This course is an online course, but not a self-paced course except in a limited sense. Students taking this course must participate in discussions via the Internet numerous times each week, and also must meet specific deadlines on submission of quizzes and exams.

2.    In order to participate in this course, students must have access to the Internet and be ready to start discussions by the first Friday of the semester at the latest.  Those students who do not have their own computer with Internet access can use a computer on one of the college campuses or they can rent or borrow a computer of their choosing from whatever source they desire.
 
 

EDUCATIONAL BELIEFS

Human beings are somewhat unique in that they have the ability, responsibility, and even necessity, to reason. Society acts wisely when it fosters the cultivation of reason in its members. Most people do not live by their own stock of reason because it may be rather small. They do well availing themselves of the general bank of reason which may be available on all levels of education. Formal education is a conscious, organized effort to impart in individuals the qualities and characteristics that will enhance and encourage the use of reason.

 

COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is an analysis of current economic issues and their relevance to individuals in their roles as consumers, workers, businessmen, and voters. Basic economic theories and concepts are utilized in explaining important social interaction relating to such topics as medical care, antitrust, price controls, drug prohibition, environmentalism, tax policy, public debt, and income distribution. While a disposition to think about things from a logical perspective is required for the class, there are no formal academic prerequisites for the course.

 

COURSE PURPOSE & GOALS

Upon completion of the course the student will be able to:

1.  Recognize the bases upon which a study of economics rests, including the principles of scarcity, rational and purposeful behavior, incentives, and opportunity costs.

2.  Incorporate the concept of marginal utility, and its implications, into an understanding of important fundamental principles such as the personal and subjective nature of human wants and needs, the Pareto principle, the concept of demonstrated preference, and the idea of social welfare.

3.  Apply the laws of supply and demand to an analysis of changes in price and quantity in a variety of practical settings. 

4.  Utilize the economic principles related to related goods (substitutes and complements) to predict directional changes in prices and quantities in a variety of cases. 

5.  Calculate elasticity of demand, and understand the relationship between elasticity and total revenue to the seller of goods and services.

6.  Recognize and appreciate the value of the market process in coordinating human action in a free society, including the coordinating qualities of the principles of supply and demand.

7.  Correlate supply and demand with equilibrium levels in explaining why price controls undermine the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services in society. 

8.  Recognize the importance of generally agreed upon property rights as necessary in allowing the market process to coordinate economic activities in society.

9.  Use the principles associated with various political theories to explain the ability or inability of governments to attain economic goals such as stability, prosperity, and equality.

10. Conceptualize the role of competition in coordinating the desires of market participants. 

11. Be aware of the incentives in a democratic society that lead to the political pursuit of private gains through the manipulation of political processes.

These student outcomes will be measured by an evaluation of students’ responses to specific questions posed on the discussion board, by written papers, and by topical quizzes and examinations. In addition, this course is part of the Associate of Applied Science degree in which students’ overall progress is measured at the program level upon entrance into the program and upon graduation.

 

TOPIC & READING SCHEDULE

In the following schedule of reading assignments, the word Essentials refers to the short Essentials of Economics book, which will be emailed to each student on the first day of the semester. The word Miller refers to the Economics of Public Issues book written by Roger LeRoy Miller, Daniel Benjamin, and Douglas North. Please note that not every chapter in the Miller book is covered.



Week 1

Monday, Jan. 23 –

Sunday, Jan. 29

Essentials -- Chapter 1

Essentials -- Chapter 2

Preliminary Matters

Marginal Utility

Week 2

Monday, Jan. 30 –

Sunday, Feb. 5

Essentials -- Chapter 3

Essentials -- Chapter 4

The Law of Demand

The Theory of Supply

Week 3

Monday, Feb. 6 –

Sunday, Feb. 12

Essentials -- Chapter 5

Exam #1

The Market Process

Essentials, Chapters 1-5

Bulletin Boards and Low-stakes Quizzes for all preceding chapters will be closed Sunday night, Feb. 12.

Students will not be able to get credit for these assignments after this date.

Week 4

Monday, Feb. 13 –

Sunday, Feb. 19

Miller -- Chapter 1

Miller -- Chapter 2

Killer Airbags

Terrible Tradeoffs

Week 5

Monday, Feb. 20 –

Sunday, Feb. 26

Miller -- Chapter 3

Miller -- Chapter 4

Flying the Friendly Skies?

The Mystery of Wealth

Week 6

Monday, Feb. 27 –

Sunday, Mar. 5

Miller -- Chapter 5

Miller -- Chapter 6

Sex, Booze, and Drugs

Expanding Waistlines

Week 7

Monday, Mar. 6 –

Sunday, Mar. 12

Miller -- Chapter 7

Exam #2

Is Water Different?

Miller, Chapters 1-7

Bulletin Boards and Low-stakes Quizzes for all preceding chapters will be closed Sunday night, Mar. 12.

Students will not be able to get credit for these assignments after this date.

Week 8

Monday, Mar. 13 –

Sunday, Mar. 19

Miller -- Chapter 8

Miller -- Chapter 11

Slave Redemption in Sudan

Bankrupt Landlords

Week 9

Monday, Mar. 20 –

Sunday, Mar. 26

Miller -- Chapter 13

Miller -- Chapter 14

Effects of the Minimum Wage

Heavenly Highway

 

Monday, Mar. 27 –

Sunday, Apr. 2

 

Spring Break: No Class Activities

Week 10

Monday, Apr. 3 –

Sunday, Apr. 9

Miller -- Chapter 15

Miller -- Chapter 17

Give Me MP3 or Give Me Death

Coffee, Tea, or Tuition-Free

Week 11

Monday, Apr. 10 –

Sunday, Apr. 16

Miller – Chapter 18

Exam #3

Keeping the Competition Out

Miller, Chapters 8-18

Bulletin Boards and Low-stakes Quizzes for all preceding chapters will be closed Sunday night, Apr. 16.

Students will not be able to get credit for these assignments after this date.

Week 12

Monday, Apr. 17 –

Sunday, Apr. 23

Miller – Chapter 20

Miller – Chapter 23

Raising Less Corn and More Hell

The Graying of America

Week 13

Monday, Apr. 24 –

Sunday, Apr. 30

Miller -- Chapter 25

Miller – Chapter 26

The Trashman Cometh

Bye, Bye, Bison

Week 14

Monday, May 1 –

Sunday, May 7

Miller -- Chapter 28

Miller – Chapter 29

Greenhouse Economics

Free Trade, Less Trade, etc.

Week 15

Monday, May 8 –

Sunday, May 14

Miller -- Chapter 30

Miller – Chapter 32

The $750,000 Steelworker

The Rise of the Dragon

Week 16

Monday, May 15 –

Sunday, May 21

Special Topic

Exam #4

Blood and Organs for Sale

Miller, Chapters 20-32

Bulletin Boards and Low-stakes Quizzes for all preceding chapters will be closed Sunday night, May 21.

Students will not be able to get credit for these assignments after this date.


In the above schedule, each week of study begins on a Monday and continues through the following Sunday night. This gives students the ability to catch up with any assignments on the weekend. While students are encouraged to work on their weekly assignments much earlier in the week, the weekend is provided if necessary. Students should not, however, go beyond the weekend for submitting any assignments.

 

 

METHODS OF INSTRUCTION

The student starts his or her study in this course from WebCT, which is accessed from a link on the GBC Home Page, located at http://webct.gbcnv.edu/ECON104/www.gbcnv.edu. The opening screen of WebCT provides information on their User ID and Password, which will be need to access and use the system during the semester. For each topic covered in the course, there are five aspects of learning the material, and students should be engaged in all five of these aspects as they are explained below.

Background Materials

The Background Materials for each chapter can be accessed from the “Daily or Weekly Activities” link on the Econ 104 Home Page. The Background Materials consist of short introductions to the material under consideration, suggested study hints, and a link to a related article or two from the Web. These outside articles should be considered optional reading for those who would like to know more about the topic under consideration. Serious students will want to read these articles in order to obtain a better understanding of the principles involved, while those students whose time or inclination is limited, or lies in other directions, may find it unnecessary to read these articles.

 

 

PowerPoint Presentations

The PowerPoint Presentations can be accessed from the “Daily or Weekly Activities” link on the Econ 104 Home Page. These presentations are closely correlated with each chapter under consideration, and should be thought of as substituting in part for the in-class lectures that would be obtained in a more traditional classroom situation. These presentations provide the instructor's essential discussion of the matters contained in the chapters read in the textbook. If the student does not have the PowerPoint software, free alternative software can be obtained from GBC that will allow the viewing of the presentations. Please call Dr. Tenney if you need this software.

 

Bulletin Board Discussions

The Bulletin Board Discussions are accessed from the “Daily or Weekly Activities” link on the Econ 104 Home Page. For each topic under consideration, the instructor will post a question that is intended to be the basis for the discussions. In order to get proper credit for this part of the course, students should make sure to post their comments in the proper category pertaining to the specific chapter under consideration. The due dates for the student comments are the dates listed in the Topic and Reading Schedule section of this syllabus. Students should feel free to make several posts to the bulletin board for each topic, while at least one good post is required at minimum. Student will have one full week in which to make their posts, but it is highly recommended that students make their initials posts early in the week, and then return several times during the week to respond to what others have said on the bulletin board. Periodically, as noted in the schedule above, certain sections of the bulletin boards will be closed, and postings will thus no longer be allowed.

 

Low-Stakes Repeatable Quizzes

For each week of the course, students are required to take a short, 10-question quiz covering the material under consideration for that week. Students may take each quiz as often as they like, and only the highest score obtained will be counted toward their grade. Some of these quiz questions may show up on the midterm exam or the final exam, so students should make good use of this opportunity to preview possible exam questions. While the quizzes are due weekly, students should not wait until the deadline to take these quizzes. By taking the quizzes early, students will have the opportunity to study the material again if desired, in order to improve their scores and to expand their understanding of each topic.

 

Examinations

The exams will be made available to students two days before they are due, and will be accessed from the “Periodic Activities” link on the Econ 104 Home Page. Students will have three hours to complete the exam once they have started, which means that they will have some time during the exam to review any textbook material that they would like. Students are, however, cautioned against leaving their studying until they have started the exam. The three-hour time limit for taking each exam will probably not be sufficient time to look up the answers if the student is not already familiar with the material. Furthermore, the nature of some of the questions on the exams will not be such that the answer can be simply looked up in the textbook materials. Rather, some of the questions will require some application of principles to scenarios that are not specifically addressed in the reading materials. Upon completion of the test, and after the due date has passed, students will be provided with the answers and their grades on each exam.

 

 

MATERIALS

Textbooks: Two short books are required for the course.

    1.  Essentials of Economics, by Glen Tenney, published by the Bastiat Foundation. This book will be emailed to the students the first day of class. 

    2.  Economics of Public Issues, by Roger LeRoy Miller, Daniel K. Benjamin, and Douglas C. North, Fourteenth Edition, published by Addison Wesley. This book is available from the GBC bookstore, or it can be obtained from Amazon.com or many other sellers of books.
 
 

EVALUATION & GRADES

Passing grades for the course will range from A to D, and will be determined based on the student's performance on the exams and the semi-weekly bulletin board posting assignments.  The relative importance of these items is described in the chart below.

4 Exams @100 points each

400

16 Weekly bulletin board postings @ 10 points each

160

16 Weekly low-stakes repeatable quizzes @ 10 points each

160

Total Points Available

720

 


 

SUPPLEMENTARY READING

Throughout the course, students will be guided to outside articles written by various economists. Students are encouraged to read these short articles in the context of the materials under consideration. In addition, students will find The Wall Street Journal a very readable daily publication with general applicability to this course.

Note: The instructor reserves the right to change certain aspects of the course syllabus, such as the schedule, grading procedures, or materials. However, no changes will be made without informing class members in a timely and clear manner. It is not anticipated that there will be major changes in the content of this syllabus.