Course: ECO 326
Instructor: Swati Bhatt
Description of Course Goals and CurriculumThe goal of the course is to introduce students to emerging areas of microeconomics relevant to the Internet and technology. These may include network/graph theory, game theory, or auction and market theory, and the course employs case studies to put theory into practice. Overall, the course begins by analyzing the attributes of networks and builds off into discussions of organizational restructuring (disintermediation), emergence of organizational behemoths, and redefinition of competition.
Learning From Classroom InstructionThere are two ninety minute lectures given every week; they will either be a lecture on new material or a class discussion on a case study (to be read before class). While it’s not absolutely necessary to read course materials prior to lectures that are more heavily theoretical, it’s recommended if the student does not have a strong grasp of microeconomics (especially applicable to COS students who often take this class as a departmental). Taking notes is important as you can later apply these to problem sets or case studies. When a lecture is designated as a case study day, in which it will be announced beforehand, students should be prepared to have read the case study completely, come up with points of discussion pertinent to topics or theories addressed in class. Around five students are randomly selected that day in which their participation is to be graded for that day. Regardless, students should still aim to participate as their overall performance of the class is used to determine their final grade, especially if it’s at the margins.
Learning For and From AssignmentsProblem sets are due every other week and are valuable ways to connect the lecture material with concrete examples. They’re generally from the textbook, which often has sections on the topic that you can read before tackling the problem. Definitely prepare for case studies, and before those days, make sure you write down how elements of the case study apply to specific themes in the course. That will help you perform the best on those days. Moreover, make sure you check your grades for discussion because it can be variable, and if you didn’t do so well, go to the professor’s office hours to learn how you can improve. There are no assessments for the class, but there is a final paper (around the length of an intro for a junior paper – 15 – 20 pages). You will need to do research for this paper and illustrate how theories from the class come into play for your chosen topic. Go to office hours to hash out this topic and get feedback from Professor Bhatt.
External ResourcesProfessor Bhatt’s office hours are quite helpful if you need assistance on thinking of your final paper topic. Meeting with her often to get the idea approved is recommended. The readings for the class are super helpful for completing problem sets and clarifying lecture topics addressed in class; however, in general the readings are a bit more math / theory-based. For problem sets, find a group in the class to work with. Then they’ll go by faster. Otherwise, they can be fairly challenging.
What Students Should Know About This Course For Purposes Of Course SelectionIt will be helpful to take ECO300 / ECO310 concurrently (or have taken those before) for this class, but they’re not necessary. Many of the topics you will address at the end of those microeconomic courses will be aligned to topics discussed in ECO326. However, this is also more of a discussion-based class, so there’s no need to worry much about being intimidated by math in the class. COS445 is somewhat similar to this class, but it’s much more heavy on math, theory, and proofs. Overall, ECO326 is a fun and relevant class for upperclassmen wanting to learn more about how economics is applicable to trends from modern technology.
Economics of the Internet