Microeconomics

Questions?

  • University College
    202-885-6737
    universitycollege@american.edu
    Anderson, Room 1014

    Wyatt, Jamie J
    Associate Director, University College and Learning Communities

Mailing Address

ECON-200

Fall Semester Seminar, GenEd area 4

Microeconomics studies the inner workings of the market system. In a market economy, people exchange goods and services. People buy and sell physical products, services, financial assets, capital, labor, and intangible assets, like know-how, brand names, or security. What facilitates trade is the price system. Prices help allocate resources. For example, if the demand for goods and services is high relative to the amount available, prices rise so that consumers cut back. Furthermore, a rise in prices encourages producers to make more available. Thus, the market economy, through the price mechanism, works in a decentralized fashion. Resources are allocated without a central coordinator or a macro-manager directing economic activity. Yet the market economy – with its participants all acting independently – is capable of producing very high standards of living, technological progress, and wealth.

This course explains how markets work and why they produce certain outcomes, like high productivity and economic advancement. The course also shows how microeconomic principles can be used to improve decision-making; for example, to maximize profits or consumer well-being. But sometimes markets fail to allocate resources efficiently or equitably. Markets may not be competitive. Some firms or organizations may have market power. This course, therefore, also discusses conditions under which market failures or market imperfections arise, and examines the different remedies for them. The course critiques the role of public policy, regulations, and public provision, in the context of market failures or imperfections.

The course presents the basic principles and foundations of microeconomics, as well as provides a number of applications of microeconomics to various policy issues, such as health care, immigration, education, environment, innovation, agriculture, poverty, and more. The course focuses on both domestic issues as well as international, including global trade, investment, and economic development.

From the Professor

How does your University College section of this course differ from a non-University College section?

This section differs from a non-University College section because of the field trips and lab experiments that are involved. The trips and experiences enhance our classroom learning.

How do your Wednesday labs tie into the academic content of your course?

For our Wednesday labs we take trips to policy think tanks, government agencies, international organizations, and many other organizations that are centers of economic policy.

Meet the Professor!

Learn more about Professor Park's teaching style and goals for the course

Learn more