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Course Descriptions and General Information

Undergraduate Courses:
102 Introduction to Resource Economics (SB) (both semesters)
Microeconomic theory for majors and non-majors. Concepts of supply, demand, markets, natural resource management, economic policy. Applications to business and government decision-making emphasized. Fall 2014 Syllabus
112 Computing: Foundations to Frontiers (both semesters)
Students work in a team-based learning environment to develop understanding of contemporary computing tools and concepts and the higher-order skills necessary to design and develop information systems that serve the interests of an organization. The class works in a reciprocal partnership with the Amherst Survival Center to learn hands-on how information systems developed in class impact an organization and the community it serves. Students are evaluated through a variety of means: projects, homework, informal reflections, exams, and a portfolio. Fall 2014 Syllabus
121 Hunger in a Global Economy (SBG) (fall semester
xplores the causes of hunger (chronic undernutrition) from an economic perspective. Focus on how population growth and economic development are increasing demand for food and on the prospects for food production to supply those needs at affordable prices, while sustaining the environment. Discussion in the context of the global economy in which increased trade links even the poorest urban and rural residents in developing countries to market forces. Fall 2014 Syllabus
162 The Consumer in Our Society (SB) (fall semester every year, spring semester in odd-numbered years)
An introduction to Consumer Economics and the role that consumers play including their decision-making and market and non-market consumption activities. Focus on contemporary consumer economic issues in addition to topics such as consumer rights and responsibilities, the impact of advertising, use of consumer credit, product safety, consumer fraud, and legal protections available to consumers. Spring 2015 Syllabus
202 Price Theory (both semesters)
Intermediate level microeconomic theory focusing on consumer demand theory and economics of production. Geometric and mathematical approaches presented. Models of market behavior related to example situations are explored. Applications to business and government decision-making emphasized. Required theory course for more advanced departmental offerings. Prerequisites: RES-ECON 102 or ECON 103, MATH 127 or MATH 131. Spring 2015 Syllabus
212 Introductory Statistics for the Social Sciences (R2) (both semesters)
Designed for students in the social science and business related fields of study. Introduction to basic statistical methods used to collect, summarize, and analyze numerical data. Emphasis on application to decision making; examples from the social sciences and business. Topics include: common statistical notation, elementary probability theory, sampling, descriptive statistics, statistical estimation and hypothesis testing. Basic algebra and familiarity with computer and internet necessary.
Also available online: Spring 2015 Syllabus, Register
213 Intermediate Statistics for Business and Economics (R2) (both semesters)
Topics include hypothesis testing for two populations, analysis of variance for comparing three or more populations, simple linear regression, topics in multiple regression, and univariate time-series techniques like moving averages and exponential smoothing. Statistical software is used for advanced computations. Basic algebra required. Prerequisites: RES-ECON 212 or RES-ECON 211 or STATISTC 240 Spring 2015 Syllabus
Also available online: Register
262 Environmental Economics (SB) (spring semester)
Economic analysis of environmental problems, focusing on air, water and land pollution. Emphasis is on analyzing individual incentives that lead to pollution, the valuation of environmental quality amenities, and the design and evaluation of regulations that seek to improve environmental quality. Includes the economic analysis of global climate change.Spring 2015 Syllabus
Also available online: Summer 2015 Syllabus, Register
263 Natural Resource Economics (SB) (fall semester)
Economic analysis of natural resource use and conservation. Includes analyses of the use of fuel, forest, marine and biodiversity resources. Focuses on evaluating natural resource use in terms of efficiency and sustainability, and designing regulations for correcting inefficient and unsustainable resource markets. Fall 2014 Syllabus
303 Writing in Resource Economics (both semesters)
This course satisfies the Junior Year Writing requirement for students in RES-ECON. The emphasis is on developing students’ skills in critical thinking, writing, and effective communication. Prerequisite: ENGLWRIT 112 and Junior Standing. Spring 2015 Syllabus
312 Introductory Econometrics (spring semester)
Basic concepts in econometric methods. Estimation of the general linear model with applications to theoretical economic models. Introduction to problems and methods to solve problems common in economic data: multicollinearity, heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation. Nonlinear models, binary independent variables and binary dependent variable methods. Application of methods to real world data; emphasis is on application using econometric software. Students undertake a research project. Prerequisites: RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203, RES-ECON 213 or OIM 250, RES-ECON 112 or consent of the instructor. Spring 2015 Syllabus
313 Quantitative Methods in Applied Economics (fall semester)
Introduction to contemporary quantitative methods as applied to production, marketing, and resource management problems in both private and public settings. Topics include: linear programming and decision making under uncertainty. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 211 or RES-ECON 212 or STATISTC 240. Fall 2014 Syllabus
314 Financial Analysis for Consumers and Firms (fall semester)
Foundations of the interest rate theory and fundamentals of finance. A problem-solving approach to selected financial applications as they affect microeconomic units such as the individuals, households, and small businesses. Financial planning, spending, credit and saving, investing, taxes, insurance, retirement, and estate planning are examples of the topics that will be examined. Prerequisites: RES- ECON 102 or ECON 103, MATH 127 or MATH 131. Fall 2014 Syllabus
324 Small Business Finance (spring semester)
Theory and application of entrepreneurial finance and basic financial management for a small firm. Emphasis will be placed on writing and presenting a complete business plan, in addition to examining topics such as financial statements, profitability and break-even analysis, working capital, capital budgeting, and forecasting. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 102 or ECON 103 and RES-ECON 314 or FINANCE 301. Spring 2014 Syllabus
362 Consumer Protection and Legislation (spring semester in even-numbered years)
An introduction to basic issues in the seller-consumer relationship and to laws designed to protect consumers from unsafe products and fraudulent business practices. Topics include: product safety, consumer fraud, unfair business practices, and analysis of economic and social impact of consumer regulation. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 162. Spring 2014 Syllabus
394LI Life is Full of Choices: An Integrated Experience Seminar (both semesters)
Students will reflect on and integrate their learning and experience through the following activities: 1) Update a personal Reflective Portfolio and complete a series of activities in which they inventory and map courses taken, work experience, and extracurricular activities and identify skills they have attained through this experience; develop an updated resume, a networking website profile, and presentations of themselves as Resource Economists; and explore careers in Resource Economics and identify the skills needed to succeed in those career paths, and 2) Participate in weekly team activities comparing personal portfolios, honing communications about what Resource Economists know and can do, and identifying Resource Economics projects and making presentations seeking funding. This 1-credit course, plus one pair of 3-credit courses identified in the Academic Requirements Report, satisfies the Integrative Experience requirement for BSResEc majors. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 112 and Junior Standing. Spring 2015 Syllabus
397A Economics of Contemporary Information Technology (spring semester in odd-numbered years)
Economic analysis of the role that information plays in the economy, and study of the contemporary problems in information production, distribution and consumption that stem from the widespread adoption of new information technologies. Will address both macro and micro implications of IT, and both efficiency and equity concerns at the local, national, and international levels. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 102 or ECON 103. Spring 2015 Syllabus
428 Managerial Economics (spring semester)
Application of economic theory and quantitative analysis to the managerial decision-making process. Topics include: cost and production economics, demand analysis, business forecasting, investment project evaluation, and pricing and promotional strategies. Prerequisites: ACCOUNTG 221 or RES-ECON 314 or FINANCE 301, RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203, RES-ECON 213 or 312, RES-ECON 313. Capstone Course, Spring 2013 Syllabus
452 Industrial Organization in Resource Economics (both semesters)
Market structure models with application to various industries. Firm behavioral strategies under different market structures. The role of product differentiation, advertising, market power, mergers, barriers to entry, and price and non-price rivalry. Market performance including prices, costs, profits, labor issues, and progressiveness. Prerequisite: RES- ECON 202 or ECON 203. Integrative Experience Course, Fall 2014 Syllabus
453 Public Policy in Private Markets (both semesters)
Rationale and structure of public policies that affect the operation of private markets in the U.S., with special emphasis on consumer goods industries. Focus on antitrust and competition policies (e.g., those covering collusive restraints of trade, monopolization, and mergers) and on policies that affect product quality and information (e.g., product standards, regulation of advertising and labeling). Prerequisite: RES-ECON 452 or consent of instructor. Integrative Experience Course,Spring 2015 Syllabus
460 Family in Economic Systems (spring semester in odd-numbered years)
An economic analysis of the behavior and circumstances of families and households. The course covers issues such as household decision-making, allocation of time, human capital, fertility, labor-force participation, and wage inequality. Standard microeconomic analysis will be applied to the production and consumption activities of the household. Prerequisites: RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203 or consent of instructor. Integrative Experience & Capstone Course, Spring 2015 Syllabus
462 Experimental Economics (spring semester)
The purpose of this class is to introduce the methodology of experimental economics and what we have learned from the application of these techniques. Economics is fundamentally the study of how individuals, firms and governments allocate scarce resources. This involves decision making which is the focus of experimental economics. The techniques of Experimental Economics are used for a myriad of purposes. Roth (1995) in the introduction to the Handbook of Experimental Economics categorizes these as “Speaking to Theorists”, “Searching for Facts”, and “Whispering in the Ears of Princes” (p. 22). We will focus on “Speaking to Theorists” 17 – how the decision making of real economic agents relates to theory and the implications for public policy “Whispering in the Ears of Princes”. When students complete this class they will be expected to understand how individuals make decisions in a wide range of situations. Students will understand the importance of taking into account preferences for altruism, fairness and reciprocity to the predictions of standard theory, and also be able to identify situations where these preferences are important and when they are overshadowed by factors such as competition. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203. Spring 2015 Syllabus
470 Family Economic Policy: Issues and Implications (spring semester in even-numbered years)
This course includes: (1) an overview of issues critical to the economic well-being of individuals and families around the world and its impact on the U.S. economy and (2) a review of public programs that affect the economic well-being of families in the United States. Special attention will be paid to the underlying philosophies of U.S. public welfare programs and their economic impact on households, an understanding of the policy process, and the fundamentals of family economics research. Prerequisites: RES-ECON 162; RESECON 314 or consent of the instructor. Spring 2014 Syllabus Integrative Experience & Capstone Course
471 Benefit-Cost Analysis of Natural Resource Programs (spring semester)
Theoretical foundations and practical procedures of benefit-cost analysis as applied to public natural resources and environmental projects, programs, and regulations. Critical discussion of strengths and weaknesses of this tool. Topics from water resources, land use, outdoor recreation, air quality, coastal zone management, and other natural resources and environmental areas. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203. Integrative Experience & Capstone Course, Spring 2015 Syllabus
472 Advanced Topics in Resource and Environmental Economics (fall semester)
Topics may include: the design of environmental and natural resource policies, particularly incentive-based policies; the analysis and control of environmental risks; cost-benefit analyses of specific environmental policies; critiques of cost-benefit analysis; international environmental cooperation; environmental and natural resource policy in the developing world; sustainability; and the conservation of biodiversity. Prerequisite: RES-ECON 202 or ECON 203. Integrative Experience & Capstone Course, Fall 2014 Syllabus
196H, 296H, 396H, 496H Honors Independent Study
These courses require a faculty sponsor. Contact the Commonwealth College Office—301 Commonwealth Honors College—to add these courses.
196, 296, 396, 496 Independent Study
Independent Study courses are available to students who wish to pursue a particular topic in depth. They generally take the form of a reading course with weekly one-on-one discussions with the professor about the reading, a research experience with completion of a written mini-thesis report involving regular consultation with the professor, or a combination of these two formats. Other formats are possible with the approval of the professor selected by the student to direct the course. Independent study courses do not count toward any departmental requirements.
298, 398, 498 Practicum (Semester Long Courses) 298Y, 398Y, 498Y Practicum (Year Long Courses)
Under the University Internship Program students may work in a professional environment and earn academic credit. The program integrates practical professional experience with the student’s prior and future course of study. Eligible students, working with a faculty sponsor, can earn up to 15 credits for a full semester internship. All internship courses are offered as mandatory PASS/FAIL. Students doing internships in summer register through Continuing Education for credits. For more information see “Searching for Internships, Co-ops, and Employment” on page 21 of the handbook and see Julie Caswell (in 223 Stockbridge) or Sheila Mammen (in 303 Stockbridge), departmental Internship Coordinators, for more details about internships.
499N, O Honors Thesis Seminar: Implementing Sustainability and Social Responsibility in Today’s Economy
Preference in registration given to Commonwealth Honors College Seniors using this course toward their Honors Project requirement; others as space permits. Prospective students should email Dr. Crago at ccrago "at" with a brief essay describing why they want to take the course and what they hope to achieve by participating in it. See Departmental Honors Program on page 19 of the handbook for details. Contact the Commonwealth College Office—301 Commonwealth Honors College—to add this course. Spring 2015 Syllabus
499Y Honors Research/499T Honors Thesis
See Departmental Honors Program on page 19 of the handbook for details. Contact the Commonwealth College Office—301 Commonwealth Honors College—to add this course
Graduate Courses:
ResEcon 691-695
M.S. Seminar


ResEcon 696
Independent Study in Resource Economics
M.S. Independent Study in Resource Economics


ResEcon 697
Special Topics
M.S. Special Topics


ResEcon 698
Research Field Essay
M.S. Research Field Essay


ResEcon 699
Master's Thesis
Master's Thesis


ResEcon 701
Quantitative Methods
Introduction to quantitative techniques used in resource economics theory and applications. Basic mathematical concepts and methods of microeconomics and their uses in optimization and comparative statics analysis. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 702
Econometric Methods
Introduction to econometric methods: the general linear models, nonspherical properties, generalized least squares, and restricted least squares. Also estimation with limited dependent variables, dichotomous choice and causality testing. Spring 2015 Syllabus
ResEcon 703
Topics In Advanced Econometrics
Methodologies for dealing with collinearity, autocorrelation, heteroscedasticity, and endogenous right-hand-side variables.  Stochastic restrictions and evaluating restrictions via alternative norms.  Generalized least squares procedures.  Zellner estimation.  Pooling data.  Simultaneous systems of equations.  Fixed-effects and random-effects models. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 711
Applied Microeconomic Theory I
Basic theory of monopoly and competitive markets; market equilibria; comparative statics; and adjustment process. Analysis of optimizing decisions for firms and consumers; production, cost, and utility functions; comparative static analysis; the derivation of supply and demand curves; risk and uncertainty. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 712
Applied Microeconomic Theory II
Principles of welfare economics; introduction to noncooperative game theory; theories of imperfect competition; the provision of public goods and the control of externalities, and the economics of information. Spring 2015 Syllabus
ResEcon 720
Environmental and Resource Economics
Economics of environmental quality and natural resource management; theory of externalities, public goods, and resource extraction. Benefit-cost analyses of natural resource use and preservation of unique resources. Spring 2013 Syllabus
ResEcon 721
Advanced Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
Economic models of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources; introduction to dynamic optimization; and the theory of environmental policy. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 732
Industrial Organization in Resource Economics I
Application of industrial organization and strategic management theory to the marketing system. Empirical analysis of market power exertion, including market structure and performance, price discrimination, product differentiation, vertical control, cartel formation and sustainability, mergers, strategic behavior and firm organizations. Applied topics include branding, advertising, tradeable pollution emission permits, environmental quality, biotechnology, intellectual property rights, and cooperatives. Spring 2013 Syllabus
ResEcon 791A
Seminar in Resource Economics
M.S. Ph.D. Seminar


ResEcon 796
Independent Study
Ph.D. Independent study


ResEcon 797A
Special Topics in Forecasting
Topics are divided between forecasting techniques and econometric time-series modeling. Discovering the data generating process of a random variable. Univariate approaches for dealing with a time series: exponential smoothing methods and ARIMA models. Tests for stationarity. Unit roots. Dickey-Fuller tests. Augmented Dickey-Fuller models. Multivariate approaches for modeling. Spurious relationships. Cointegration. Vector autoregression. Error correction models. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 797B
Experimental Economics
The purpose of this class is to introduce the techniques of Experimental Economics.  In the process the course provides a survey of the important topics which have been addressed with this methodology.  These topics include markets, public goods, and behavioral issues such as trust and reciprocity.  Roth (1995) in the introduction to the Handbook of Experimental Economics categorizes these as “Speaking to Theorists”, “Searching for Facts”, and “Whispering in the Ears of Princes” (p. 22).  We will focus on “Speaking to Theorists” – how the decision making of real economic agents relates to theory and the implications for public policy “Whispering in the Ears of Princes”.  When students complete this class they will be expected to understand the methodology of experimental economics.  They will have experience with critiquing the literature, developing their own project, conducting the experiments and analyzing the data. Spring 2015 Syllabus
ResEcon 797D
Panel Data Econometrics
Combining time-series and cross-sectional data. Also known as longitudinal or hierarchical data. Review of the classical econometrics literature on this topic starting with Nerlove (1969). Considerations of this setting vs. cross-section techniques alone or time-series techniques alone. Possible modeling procedures and when to use them: simple stacking; dummy variables; fixed effects or within; between; first differences; random effects; mixed effects. Underlying stochastic structure of each procedure. Strong exogeneity. Weak exogeneity. Demands and viability of each procedure in terms of consistency or efficiency or both. Estimation techniques: classical OLS; Maximum Likelihood (MLE); Generalized Method of Moments (GMM). Estimating standard errors correctly. Panel-robust statistical inference. Dynamic panels and problems encountered. Endogenous regressors. Instrumental variables. Nonlinear panel models.
ResEcon 797M
Industrial Organization in Resource Economics II
Use of advanced industrial organization and related models for analysis of horizontal markets and vertical channels of distribution in the marketing system. Sample topics include market entry, spatial competition, price discovery and transmission, product quality, and vertical restraints of trade. Fall 2014 Syllabus
ResEcon 899
Doctoral Dissertation
Doctoral Dissertation