General information that you may need at the beginning of the semester.
|Email address:||wilcoxen at syr.edu|
|Office hours time:||Mon and Wed, 10:00-11:30 or by appointment
|Office hours location:
All course materials, including instructions for assignments and the corresponding due dates, will be posted at the URL below. In addition, Microsoft Teams will be used for submitting most assignments. Blackboard will not be used.
This course focuses on two skills needed for policy analysis: (1) economic modeling and analysis of decision-making by individuals and firms, including how both kinds of agents react to policy changes; and (2) professional quality quantitative analysis, writing, and presentation. Economic topics include demand, supply, competition, monopoly, welfare analysis, strategic behavior, market failure, decision-making under uncertainty, cost-benefit analysis. For a detailed list, see the Course Outline page.
By the end of this course you will be able to: (1) construct quantitative economic models suitable for analyzing a wide range of decisions and policies; (2) use those models to analyze impacts on individuals, firms and governments; (3) discuss key economic concepts such as efficiency, elasticity, and net present value; (4) be comfortable building and using complex, professional-grade spreadsheets; (5) be comfortable analyzing large datasets; and (6) prepare professional-grade written documents and presentations.
No previous courses in economics are required. The math used will involve graphing, algebra and spreadsheets but no calculus.
There's no required textbook. However, if you'd find one useful, a good bet is Jeffrey Perloff's Microeconomics from Pearson/Addison-Wesley. It's totally optional. It's a good book but we're not going to follow it very closely. If you do decide to get a copy, it's not necessary to have the latest edition: renting the 6th or 7th edition, for example, would be fine.
There are two required applications. Both are are covered by the University's Microsoft site license and available for free:
Microsoft Teams: phone and computer
Teams will be used for distributing and submitting most assignments. You'll need it on both your phone and your computer.
Microsoft Excel: computer
Many of the assignments will involve Excel. Please note that except in unusal circumstances you'll need to use Excel specifically, not Apple's Numbers or Google Sheets. The others are perfectly good spreadsheets but they have significant differences in their user interface and functionality that would add confusion during class. Also, many assignments will require the actual app on your computer, not the web version, so you may want to download it soon if you don't have it already.
Grades will be based on the activities listed in the table below. The weight of each component in the overall semester grade is indicated in the "weight" column.
|Attendance and Daily Exercises
|Briefing Memos and Flash Talks
||40%||See Flexibility Option below.|
Attendance and Daily Exercises:
Attendance is required: you'll lose a point of your final grade for each day you're absent without being excused in writing in advance.
On most days there will be an exercise in class. They'll be graded on a 0-1 scale and almost entirely on effort: as long as you make an honest try and submit a response you'll get credit for it. However, if you don't give it a serious try or don't submit a response you'll get a 0.
Many of the daily exercises will involve spreadsheets, so you should be sure to bring your computer.
On days when there is not a daily exercise, you'll get a point for being in class and a 0 if you miss class without having let me know in writing in advance.
These will be given out about once a week and due the following week. There will be about 6 total and they'll be graded on a 0-5 point scale. Most will involve building Excel spreadsheets but there will be a few paper-and-pencil assignments as well.
About three times during the semester the weekly exercise will be replaced by an assignment to write up the results of an analysis as a 1-2 page briefing memo. A briefing memo is a short document that's used to inform a policy maker about an issue. Here they will be very short memos that usually present a table of numbers, a graph or two, and a short description of where the numbers came from and what they show. They'll be graded on a 0-8 point scale.
About three times during the semester the weekly exercise will be replaced by an assignment to prepare and deliver a 5 minute "flash talk" on an economic policy issue or event of your choice. These assignments have two purposes: (1) to help you practice giving a top-notch presentation, and (2) to give you a chance to teach other people in class a little about a topic that interests you. They'll be graded on a 0-8 point scale.
All together, there will be about 6 memo and flash talk assignments. However, I'll drop the lowest score of the 6 so only 5 will count. In effect, you can skip either one memo or one talk. Overall, the memos and talks together will count for 40% of the final grade.
Working in groups is encouraged on the daily exercises: that will make them more fun and less frustrating.
Working in groups of up to three people is also encouraged on weekly exercises. If you work in a group, please be sure to note all of your collaborators on your assignment. Also, it's OK to submit a single answer for the whole group. Please don't share answers between groups, although it's OK to talk about the exercises with people outside your group in broad terms.
On the memo assignments, you may do the analysis (e.g., calculations) with a group but you must write the memo individually. The exposition, from overall structure down to the actual text, should be yours alone. If you have any questions about this rule, please don't hesitate to ask.
Flash talks are individual assignments. However, it's OK to practice them in groups and give each other feedback.
Artificial intelligence tools may be used in certain assignments but not others. Please follow the guidelines below. Check with me if you have any questions.
Daily and weekly exercises are intended to build your own analytical and spreadsheet skills and AI may not be used.
AI may be used to help prepare flash talks. It is unlikely to be helpful in designing the actual presentation, which will have few words, but it may be used in background research and for developing custom illustrations, subject to the following stipulations:
AI may not be used to carry out the analysis in a memo assignment but it may be used to improve the memo's exposition (grammar, spelling, word choice, logical order, and so on). Examples of permissible expositional uses include: composing a first draft from an outline; refining the wording of specific paragraphs; making the text clearer and more concise; or polishing the memo at the end. However, any use of AI is subject to the following stipulations:
Finally, the penalties in the second flash talk rule and the third memo rule are serious and there for an important reason: in the future it will be your professional responsibility to understand and be able to defend anything you write, and you'll need to avoid letting an AI add anything that might not be true.
Syracuse University’s Academic Integrity Policy reflects the high value that we, as a university community, place on honesty in academic work. The policy holds students accountable for the integrity of all work they submit and for upholding course-specific, as well as university-wide, academic integrity expectations. The policy governs citation and use of sources, the integrity of work submitted in exams and assignments, and truthfulness in all academic matters, including course attendance and participation. The policy states that any work a student submits for a course must be solely their own unless the instructor explicitly allows collaboration or editing. The policy also requires students to acknowledge their use of other peoples’ language, images or other original creative or scholarly work through appropriate citation.
These expectations extend to the new, fast-growing realm of artificial intelligence (AI) as well as to the use of websites that charge fees or require uploading of course materials to obtain exam solutions or assignments. Students are required to ask their instructor whether use of these tools is permitted – and if so, to what extent – before using them to complete any assignment or exam. Students are also required to seek advance permission from instructors if they wish to submit the same work in more than one course. Failure to receive this permission in advance may violate the Academic Integrity Policy. Under the policy, instructors who seek to penalize a student for a suspected violation must first report the violation to the Center for Learning and Student Success (CLASS). Students may not drop or withdraw from courses in which they face a suspected violation. Instructors must wait to assign a final course grade until a suspected violation is reviewed and upheld or overturned.
Upholding Academic Integrity includes abiding by instructors’ individual course expectations, which may include the protection of their intellectual property. Students should not upload, distribute, or otherwise share instructors’ course materials without permission. Students found in violation of the policy are subject to grade sanctions determined by the course instructor and non-grade sanctions determined by the School or College where the course is offered, as outlined in the Violation and Sanction Classification Rubric. Students are required to read an online summary of the University’s academic integrity expectations and provide an electronic signature agreeing to abide by them twice a year during pre-term check-in on MySlice.
The use of AI tools for course assignments is discussed in detail in the syllabus section "Using AI Tools".
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