The Capstone

I’m currently teaching ECON 488, Senior Capstone Seminar in Economics. This is the class that’s designed to bring together our economics majors’ knowledge in one last class before they graduate. When I was first assigned to teach the class, I knew that it was important to have our students write — but what kind of writing assignment? The traditional seminar paper is long and high-stakes. The one-minute paper is too small. But the upper blogosphere — sites such as Marginal Revolution and Econbrowser — would be perfect! So I designed the writing assignments to take on the form of posts to the upper blogosphere in economics. Students’ posts, under assumed names, appear at our class site, I invite you to have a look, especially after mid-semester when we’ll have a significant amount of new content there.

Econometrics and IO

This fall I lucked into a great teaching assignment: econometrics and industrial organization. Econometrics is the application of statistical methods to economic relationships, or “economic measurement.” Industrial organization is the study of market structure and economic performance, “everything interesting in micro that’s not labor economics.”

Both fields have been good to me, in that both have led to great research and consulting opportunities. And yes, I’ll miss having first-semester students in my classes this fall (something that always happened when the introductory course was part of my teaching schedule in the fall). But these are two subjects I love, and I’m ready to go!

New high ranking for online MBA!

JMU’s online MBA has received a another prestigious national ranking, this time from Princeton Review. The specific program is an online master’s degree in business administration with an emphasis on information security. Here’s a link to the rating, showing the program ranked 11th nationally: JMU ranked no. 11

The program is a unique blend of online and in-person instruction. Every eight weeks on a Saturday, we turn a Northern Virginia hotel into a miniature JMU. In the morning, students come in and complete class presentations or exams for the class they’re finishing, and then break for lunch, and then start the next class. Then they scatter back to their home locations and the class meets online for eight weeks, before another Saturday in Northern Virginia starts the cycle again. In just over two years, the students have an MBA.

I was one of the original instructors when the program started in 2001 and have continued to develop print and video materials for the program since then. We have a great team teaching the online MBA and I’m proud to be part of it!

(Note that this program was rated no. 12 nationally by U.S. News & World Report.)


Inspired by Socrates: ECON 345

When I teach Industrial Organization (ECON 345), I use the Socratic method. Named after the Greek philosopher Socrates, this method involves getting to the bottom of a logical puzzle as the instructor asks questions and reacts to student answers. Some students find the Socratic method intimidating, but most of my past ECON 345 students have found it liberating. I’m proud of ECON 345 alumni, some of whom have gone to to achieve distinction in the fields of law, public policy and consulting.