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Complex Problems Courses | Economics

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America At Work

GNED 140
James Quirk
TF 4:05 - 5:20pm 

From farm to factory to fiber optics, the meaning of "work" has been central to the American experience. Shifting to industrial and then to post-industrial eras raises questions not just about business and economics, but about forces transforming society and the individual's place in it. We'll approach America at Work from a range of perspectives. We'll use scholarly work as well as excerpts from film, theatre, and literature, and even from HBO's The Wire. Your responses will include some usual written University-level approaches, as well as more personal assignments like an interview and a photo essay, and living-learning community projects.

Balancing Legal Interests

GNED 140
Michael Mass
TF 12:55- 2:10pm OR 2:30 - 3:45pm 

The law is a device for balancing societal and personal interests. Although it might seem that we should look to the law to provide rules for our personal and business conduct that are definitive and clear, in reality the law is more often balancing complex interests that involve many shades of gray. This course will examine a series of legal problems concerning the role of the law in our personal lives as well as in the economic life of our country as part of a community of nations. 

1) What should be the role of the legal system as a device to resolve disputes between parties?

2) What U.S. and international laws should govern trade between businesses across international borders? 

3) When should the law award compensation when bad things happen to people?

4) When should the law limit the rights of parties to make deals with each other or impose duties upon private parties to serve the public good? 

Although the course will view these problems through a legal lens, it will be brazenly interdisciplinary: including economic, business, political and international relations perspectives. Most importantly, it will grapple with questions that have no single answer, but where students will have to learn enough about an area of law to develop their own solutions as well as an understanding of the opposing position. Course materials may include book chapters, articles, cases, statutory material, blogs and movies.

The Big Short: Money and Power

GNED 140
Patricia Aufderheide
W 2:30 – 5:20pm 

This course on how we understood and understand the Great Recession and specifically the financial collapse of 2007-2009 will expose you to different choices in storytelling about major and complex events, and also to different disciplinary approaches to analyzing and understanding the implications of their impact.

Confronting Climate Change

GNED 250
Christine Pondell
MTh 4:05 - 5:20pm

The issue of climate change is a dividing topic in America, and the demand for action regarding climate is a hotly debated topic in political, economic, and social discussions. However, the effects of climate change are seen worldwide, and dialogue surrounding this issue must take into account perspectives from the global community. Throughout the course, we will focus on analyzing the impact of climate change on people of developing and industrialized nations, and evaluate the influence of potential mitigation strategies on the economic, political, and social structure of cultures from around the world.

The Food Water Energy Nexus

GNED 250
Douglas Fox
TF 9:45 - 11:00am 

Food, energy, and water resources are interconnected, so addressing one resource will cause scarcities in others. This complex problem requires innovative, cooperative, and interdisciplinary solutions utilizing the skills from multiple disciplines. Our next generation must be equipped with sustainability and resilience strategies for the Food Energy Water Nexus, requiring interdisciplinary approaches. Natural scientists, engineers, social scientists, economists, policy makers, and diplomats must work together to form an international collaboration for addressing these resource scarcities simultaneously.

Is it Still Possible to be a Global Citizen

GNED 130
Bram Groen
W 8:10 - 11:00am

With the recent rise of Populism across the Western world, this course will help students with international aspirations to critically examine the emerging issues related to “being a global person.” Course readings and team projects will cover topics such as Globalization; the Sovereign State; Economic Interdependence; the Global Enterprise; Ethics; Prejudice; and Intercultural Skills -- all intended to explore “global citizenry.” This course will be in “debate” format and seeks to improve your public presentation skills, while course grading will take unique forms. Outside class, you will have the opportunity to meet global leaders to discuss this course’s implications.

The Material World

GNED 250
Nathan Harshman
TF 11:20 - 12:35pm 

This course will explore the matter that has mattered to humans, from stone and bronze through semiconductors and nanostructures. Cultures, economies, and nation‐states flourish and decline based in part on the material resources and technology which they can access and control. This course is half about material science, investigating the atom-stuff that we and our world are made of, and half a critical investigation of materialist theories of culture, history, economics, and politics. The primary student assessment is a portfolio demonstrating an integrated understanding of scientific and technical material (pun intended) into social, historical, artistic, economic, philosophical and political contexts.

Why is (Im)Migration a Challenge

GNED 120
Noemi Enchautegui-de-Jesus
W 5:30 - 8:00pm 

One of the challenges to advancing the debate over immigration in the U.S. is the tension between those who are apprehensive and those who are optimistic about the impact of newcomers on the receiving society. This course will explore from multiple perspectives what makes migration in the U.S. a challenge for newcomers and for the receiving society. The scope of the course will span from the migrant’s personal experience (e.g., why and how leave the home of origin, the stressors of acculturation, a sense of identity in the new homeplace) and changes in the receiving community (e.g., schools, employment, and neighborhoods), to the mutual influence evidenced through attitudes, cuisine, media, and policies.