Please note: This is NOT the most current catalog.


Chair, 2007-08: Rebecca Judge, environmental economics, public policy

Faculty, 2007-08: Anthony Becker, microeconomics, public policy, econometrics, statistics; Bruce R. Dalgaard, macroeconomics, Japanese economy; E. David Emery, microeconomics, health care, economics; Mary Ann Emery, accounting; Richard M. Goedde, finance, accounting; Randolph Jennings, marketing; Sian Muir, entrepreneurial studies, arts management; John Ophaug, business law; Mark Pernecky, macroeconomics, economic justice; Xun Z. Pomponio, international economics, Chinese economy; David Schodt, microeconomics, economic development; Steven Soderlind, urban and regional economics; Kathy G. Thomforde, marketing, management; Suzanne Wisniewski, international poverty and health economics; Paul Wojick, macroeconomics, economic philosophy

The Department of Economics seeks to create a teaching and learning community that provides students with varied opportunities for acquiring the necessary knowledge, analytical skills, and judgment to prepare them for personal and professional growth and for confident and responsible leadership in a rapidly changing world.

The department encourages students: (1) to learn about the economic, commercial and governmental institutions that serve the American and international communities, (2) to be competent in economic and statistical analysis, and (3) to be cognizant of historical, global and moral perspectives on economic and business issues.


Economics is the study of how people and organizations make decisions, how they interact with each other, and how institutions and policies can be designed to improve people’s lives. The ambition of those who study economics is to understand the world around them both as it is and as it ought to be. The basic principles of economics are applied to a wide range of social and political challenges that confront us today. These include international trade, environmental protection, health care, development, domestic taxes, Federal Reserve policies, labor outsourcing, and the regulation of private business.

The economics curriculum at St. Olaf includes theory, applications, institutional studies, and quantitative analysis. Where appropriate, economics courses also pursue historical and ethical concerns.

The department offers areas of emphasis for its majors who desire more focused study in finance, management, international economics, and policy analysis. The department also supports several programs available to students regardless of major: an interdisciplinary concentration in management studies, the programs of the Finstad Office for Entrepreneurial Studies, study abroad, and internship opportunities.

The economics major serves as excellent preparation for careers in a wide variety of fields, including economic analysis, banking, accounting, consulting, health administration, finance, business management, teaching, and international affairs. The major also provides a solid foundation for students wishing to pursue graduate studies in economics, business, public policy, and law.


Majors in economics must meet the following minimum requirements: two courses in mathematics, (1) Mathematics 120, 121, or its equivalent, and (2) either a mathematics course that has Mathematics 120 as a prerequisite or Economics 233;  Economics 261 and 262; Statistics 263, or Statistics 272 plus Economics 385; and at least four courses in economic analysis.

Economics 233 may substitute for the required second mathematics course only if it is completed before both Economics 261 and 262 or before one of those courses and concurrently with the other. Economics 261 and 262, and Statistics 263, or Statistics 272 plus Economics 385, cannot be taken S/U. The economics major requires four courses in economic analysis with a minimum of one at Level II and two at Level III unless the student completes an Area of Emphasis. Majors who also complete an Area of Emphasis within the department must complete three additional courses in economic analysis, at least one of which must be at Level III.

In the course of their studies, economics majors should also gain working knowledge of a statistical computing package, a text processor, and an electronic spreadsheet.

Students considering graduate work in economics are advised to take additional courses in economic analysis (including Economics 385) and mathematics (Mathematics 126 or 128, 220, 226, 230, and 244).


Information about the criteria considered in conferring distinction is available on the department web page.

Areas of Emphasis

Areas of emphasis provide the opportunity for economics majors to pursue a more structured program of study beyond the normal major requirements. The department offers two management studies areas of emphasis and two economics areas of emphasis. Contracts for each area of emphasis must be individually negotiated with the appropriate director before the end of the student’s junior year. Students may be certified in one management studies and one economics area of emphasis.

Management studies areas of emphasis include finance and management. Each requires five management studies courses including a Level III Management Studies course that also satisfies one of the requirements for the economics major. A grade of C or better must be earned in each of the five courses.

The finance area of emphasis requires Management Studies 225, either Management Studies 237 or 259, Management Studies 281, plus two approved electives, at least one at Level III. The management area of emphasis requires Management Studies 225, Management Studies 237, Management Studies 251, plus two approved electives, at least one at Level III.

The international economic analysis and policy area of emphasis requires Economics 382 (International Economics); two Level II international-related courses chosen from the following: Economics 218, 238 and 243, and ID 249; and one elective outside the department that has an international emphasis, such as a course taken abroad.

The public policy area of emphasis includes Economics 371 (Economics of Public Policy) and two economics analysis courses chosen from the following list: Economics 242, 244, 245, 249 and 385.

A grade of C or above is required for all courses in the area of emphasis. The Level III course for either area of emphasis may also be counted toward the economics major.


The Economics Department participates in international studies programs and encourages its majors to take advantage of study in other countries. The department also participates in several interdisciplinary majors and concentrations, including American studies, Asian studies, management studies, Hispanic studies, statistics, environmental studies, women’s studies, and the social studies education major.



Courses numbered 110-120 all present a common core of economic principles, and therefore credit will be given for only one of these courses. Courses numbered 110-120 cannot be taken after taking Economics 121. Students may only take one course from among 110-120; none of these courses may be repeated.

110-120 Gateways to Economics

These classes introduce first-year students to principles of economics through special topics. Each course emphasizes the application of economic concepts to topics of general interest, capitalizing on the special interests and expertise of the faculty. A list of topics and course descriptions will be included with registration materials each semester. These courses are open only to first-year students.

111 Gateways to Economics: Transition Economies

At one time, roughly one-third of the world's population lived in countries with centrally planned socialist economies. The world has witnessed a series of astonishing transitions as these planned economies moved to introduce market reforms. This course introduces and applies the basic tools of economic analysis to understand and explore the transitions taking place in these countries. The course focuses principally on China and Russia but will include examples drawn from Eastern Europe and Cuba. Offered many Interims.

113 Gateways to Economics: Capitalism

This course uses major schools of economic thought and major economic writers from the past 600 years to introduce principles of economics. Readings include the architects of capitalism (Adam Smith, David Ricardo, etc.), the critics (Karl Marx, Thorstein Veblem, etc.), and the reformers (J.M. Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter, J.K. Galbraith, etc.). Offered many Interims.

115 Gateways to Economics: Globalization and Poverty

Vigorous debates about globalization and poverty have circulated in the media for the past decade, gaining international attention as protests interrupted the 1990 WTO Ministerial Conference in Seattle. This course introduces economic principles and uses them to evaluate thoughts on globalization, trade, growth, and poverty as articulated by economists like John Maynard Keynes, Friedrich von Hayek, Joseph Stiglitz, Jagdish Bhagwati, Jeffrey Sachs, and William Easterly, and as enacted by institutions like the WTO, IMF, and World Bank. Offered in Interim.

116 Gateways to Economics: Consumers in Families and Communities

Consumers, families, and community are intertwining elements of the social economy, each depending on the others for success. This course focuses on the triad, highlighting economic roles and principles. Among the topics of interest are the "rational consumer," saving and investing, momentous decisions, prodigal behavior, consumer protection, group dynamics, nurturing manipulation, collective purchases, budgeting, voting, and social welfare.

121 Principles of Economics

This course takes an analytical approach to economic reasoning and contemporary issues. The course introduces microeconomic and macroeconomic theories with applications to relevant topics, such as employment, growth, environmental protection, affirmative action, exchange rate fluctuations, taxes, and welfare reform. Students explore economics as an intelligent approach to understanding our daily lives as citizens, workers, managers and consumers. Offered each semester.

233 Economic Methods

This course develops the methodological framework which guides economic inquiry, while it reviews mathematical fundamentals and develops quantitative skills used in core courses of the major. Students learn to apply mathematical optimization to economic problems. See "Requirements of the Major" above for conditions under which this course may substitute for the required second mathematics course. Prerequisites: one of Economics 110-121 and Math 120, or its equivalent. Economics 233 does not count as a Level II economics analysis class toward the major. Offered annually.


261 Intermediate Macroeconomic Theory

This course addresses the economic institutions and forces that determine levels of income, output, employment, and prices in our society. Questions related to employment prospects and standard of living provide an important focus. Classical and Keynesian perspectives are employed in attempting to understand these matters, the macroeconomics problems in market economies and the policies that economists prescribe as remedies for these problems. Prerequisites: Calculus I and one of Economics 110-121, or permission of the instructor. Offered each semester.

262 Intermediate Microeconomic Theory

Microeconomics is the study of the resource allocation decisions by households, producers, and firms and the resources allocation process in various types of market structures. Students are trained in the use of economic models and optimizing techniques to address a variety of real-world problems, including case studies from business and public policy. Prerequisites: Calculus I and one of Economics 110-121, or permission of the instructor. Offered each semester.


222 Game Theory in Economics

Game theory is the formal study of the strategic interactions between individuals and between groups of individuals. Game theory has become a widely adopted tool of analysis in economics, business, law, politics, anthropology, sociology, and international relations. This course introduces students to the theoretical constructs of game theory and focuses on economic applications in the fields of labor economics, international trade, environmental economics, macroeconomics, and industrial organization. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121, or permission of instructor.

242 Environmental Economics

The powerful insights of microeconomic analysis inform this consideration of environmental policy and regulation. Coursework emphasizes issues germane to setting and attaining specific environmental objectives - how much pollution to allow, how much to encourage preservation, how much cutting to permit. By considering whether and how to assign monetary values to goods like species diversity and climactic stability, students gain practical experience applying benefit-cost analysis to environmental decisions. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered most years.

243 Economic Development

Students in this course learn and apply economic analysis, tempered by an appreciation for the political and institutional contexts of the less developed countries, to gain an understanding of these countries' economies. Using cases involving both written and oral analysis, students explore topics such as economic growth in Brazil, trade strategies in Singapore, poverty and income distribution in Taiwan, or macroeconomic performance in Mexico. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

244 Business, Government and the Marketplace

Students in this course gain a critical understanding of the economic implications of several forms of government regulation by studying antitrust, traditional regulation and topics in environmental, consumer, and workplace regulation. These different ways governments influence market outcomes are examined from both historical and economic perspectives. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

245 Economics of Health Care

The health care sector in the U.S. is undergoing rapid change which affects patients, providers and payers. Managed care and managed competition are restructuring the delivery of health care services and reducing costs, while frustrating physicians and patients. The course examines the economic factors leading to the changes, current issues and controversies, and federal health policies. Students from nursing, pre-med and the sciences are encouraged to enroll. Prerequisites: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered most years.

247 History of Economic Thought

Many aspects of our lives and our society are influenced by the ideas (or the theories) of economists. This course explores where economic ideas have come from, how they have changed over time and the extent to which they are compelling. While the ideas of many important figures are covered, economists such as Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Marshall, and Keynes receive particular attention. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

249 Urban Economics

This class applies economic principles to issues of urban development. Topics include urban economic history, location analysis, policy analysis (especially concerning poverty, housing, transportation and education), land use controls, and macroeconomic forecasting. Prerequisites: one of Economics 110-121 or permission of instructor. Offered annually.


371 Economics of Public Policy

Government action affects us all. We pay taxes; we use public roads, schools, and parks. Some prices we pay are lower due to government subsidies; others are higher due to taxes. Government actions influence both the efficiency of our economy and the equity and equality within our society. Students learn valuable analytical tools for evaluating public projects, tax policies, entitlement programs and voting behavior. Prerequisite: Economics 262, Statistics 263 or Statistics 272, or permission of instructor and completion of BTS-T.

374 Money and Banking

This course addresses the institutions that comprise modern monetary systems and the influence that these systems have on levels of income, output, employment, and prices in market economies. Monetary theory and monetary policy, including both the nature of our central bank and the role that it plays in our monetary system, are also addressed in some detail. Prerequisite: Economics 262 and Statistics 263 or Statistics 272, or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

376 Labor Economics and Employment Relations

What do workers want from work? What do employers want from workers? Pressing policy issues exist for workers competing in the global economy. Unions, unemployment insurance, welfare and the minimum wage enhance the prospects of many, while leaving others even worse off. This course utilizes microeconomic theory, statistics and institutional analysis to understand labor markets. Prerequisites: Economics 262 and Statistics 263 or Statistics 272, or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

382 International Economics

This course offers the students an integrated approach of theory, policy, and enterprise to understand international trade and investment. The course focuses on the costs and benefits of global economic interdependence for students who plan to enter an international business career or to work for government and international organizations in activities affected by international economic relations. Prerequisite: Economics 261, 262, or permission of instructor. Offered annually.

385 Introduction to Econometrics

Ideal for students interested in applying statistical models to economic problems, this course emphasizes theoretical foundations, mathematical structure and applications of major econometric techniques, including ordinary least squares, generalized least squares, dummy variables, non-linear transformations, instrumental variables, simultaneous equation modeling, and time series models. Students in the class complete a sophisticated economic research project of their choice. Prerequisites: Economics 261 and either Statistics 263 or 272, or permission of instructor. Offered annually.


(See MANAGEMENT STUDIES section of this catalog.)


218 Economic Progress in China (Abroad)

This course tracks economic development in China with emphasis on Shanghai. The course examines the emergence and evolution of markets in rural, urban, commercial, and financial centers and how the changes affect culture, attitudes, customs, and life of the people. Shanghai will be compared with other Chinese cities, including Nanjing, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Hong Kong. The role of Hong Kong in China's reform and its integration since 1997 is also discussed. Prerequisites: one of Economics 110-121, or permission of instructor. Offered alternate Interims.

220 Economic Justice

This course examines Christian ethics along with major frameworks in philosophical ethics (Utilitarianism, Liberalism and Marxism) in addressing economic issues. Some introductory analysis will be presented and utilized. Does not count toward the economics major. Prerequisites: completion of BTS-T. Offered many Interims.

253 Britain in Transition -- Economic Leader to European Union (abroad)

This course examines economic change in Britain from the Industrial Revolution to the current European Union membership. The course focuses on the process of change and how economic factors interact with values and culture. Prerequisite: one of Economics 110-121, or permission of instructor. Offered in Interim.

298 Independent Study

394 Internship

396 Directed Undergraduate Research: "Topic Description"

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Prerequisite: Determined by individual instructor. Offer based on department decision.

398 Independent Research

399 Seminar

Selected topics to be announced. May be repeated if topics are different.


Interdisciplinary Studies 249 Mare Balticum (Abroad)

This course circles the Baltic Sea, covering forces of integration--social, economicc, linguistic, and historical--that create an identifiable region. Thematic structures include the Hanseatic League (1200-1650), the papal order of Teutonic Knights (1200-1701), the Latin Church and alphabet, the gothic brick architecture, integration into the European Union, environmental issues and others. Offered during Interim.

Statistics 263 Statistics for Economics

This course emphasizes skills necessary to understand and analyze data. Topics include descriptive statistics, probability, and random variables, sampling theory, estimation, and classical hypothesis testing, and practical and theoretical understanding of simple and multiple regression analysis. Applications to economics and business problems use real data, realistic applications, and Minitab for Windows. Written reports link statistical theory and practice with communication of results. Prerequisite: Mathematics 120 or 121, and one of Economics 110-122, or consent of the instructor. Offered each semester.

(See MANAGEMENT STUDIES section of this catalog.)