Economics

Elizabeth Mitchell ‘10 ECON-ElizabethMitchell
F09-S10 D-plan:  R-R-R
Economics Major (focus: Developmental and International), Public Policy Minor (focus: Health)

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

The Econ department is great because there’s a wide range of professors who are all experts in their respective fields. Even if you’re not in one of their classes, many of the professors are very open to meeting with any students to discuss their passion. They’re a great resource for understanding the economics behind world events. The large department is both a blessing and a curse, however, as it is most built for driven students who are willing to reach out and ask professors for help or about a specific interest. The department can definitely be overwhelming for new or shy students.

Important info for potential majors:

Read your professor’s CV during the first week of classes! This is a great reference to find out what interests him/her and to see if there’s anything further you’d like to discuss. You’ll also find that many professors just can’t get away from their passion – they use questions on problem sets and exams that are directly from their research!

Talk to me if:

Talk to be if you can’t decide which track to focus in on – I’ve taken them all!

Most valuable academic info learned:

Cramming’s great – but so is staying on top of your work. If you must cram, make sure you do it right before office hours instead of right before the exam. That way you can ask your professor about things you don’t understand.

Favorite class and professor:

Econ 22 with Professor Bar-Ilan – he expected a lot of his students, which intimidated me a lot because I was taking it over my freshman summer so I just assumed that everybody else in the class was smarter than I was, but he was really patient in helping me master the material. He also brought current articles from the WSJ into almost every class to show how what we were learning applied to the real-world.

Major classes taken:

ECON 1, 10, 20, 21, 22, 24 (transfer), 26, 27, 39; ECON transfer (International Finance)

Major journey:

I took Econ 1 my freshman year because it seemed to be like the cool way to make friends (after Bio 11 and Govt 5 of course), but was always planning on being pre-med. As I struggled through pre-med courses (memorization is not for me!) I continued to take different Econ courses because they all sounded so interesting. Eventually I just realized that I was being silly and should just be an Econ Major!

Major-specific activities:

Presidential Scholar Research

Thesis status:

Hoping

Other activities:

Link Up – Co Director; Club Lacrosse – VP; Youth Lacrosse – Coach; UGA; Greek Leadership Council – PR Chair

Off-campus program:

Semester at Sea (through UVA), 08F

Internship experience:

Hands On Gulf Coast, Team Leader, 07W, Biloxi, MS
Common Impact, Program Intern, 09W, Boston

sliderJohn (Ming K.) Lee ‘11 ECON-JohnLee
F09-S10 D-plan:  L-R-R
Economics/Double minor in History and Public Policy

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

I love how so much of economics is relevant to any social science. You learn to think systematically about a lot of empirical issues, and economics is a toolset you can use to tackle almost any social question or issue. Our professors are incredibly accessible and helpful, whether they’re junior or senior faculty. Take a class with Professor Doyle or Snyder—they throw great open houses for their students each term! Unfortunately, the intro classes are almost always oversubscribed, and even as a major, the department administrator, Karen, will warn you that you can’t expect to get into the classes you need.

Important info for potential majors:

Math is very important for econ! You don’t have to love it, but you do need to get comfortable with basic calculus. Take Math 8 if you can, or you will have to work harder in Econ 21. Don’t let this scare you, though—the subject matter is worth it. If you’re unsure, take Econ 1 and a higher-level class like Econ 38 to get a feel for things.

Talk to me if:

Structuring your academic plans and/or if you don’t like math!

Most valuable academic info learned:

Alternate slogging away at your books/problem sets and talking with profs/other people about them. It gives you a good break from alternately studying and goofing off, and it makes you engage with and think about the material more.

Favorite class and professor:

Economics 38, with Professor William Fischel. Fischel is a major expert in the field (urban economics), and it’s a fantastic class which really shows how econ can engage with other fields of study like education, geography, public policy, sociology, and even history! Even if you’re not majoring or minoring in econ, I’d recommend taking this class—Fischel teaches Econ 2, which means he knows how to teach econ to just about anyone.

Major classes taken:

Econ 10, 21, 22, 38; History 5, 6, 7, 43; Public Policy 81.8

Major journey:

I read Paul Krugman’s The Accidental Theorist in high school, and fell in love with how economics can illustrate the complex logic behind social issues. I’ve always been interested in history, and government too—my plan of study incorporates my passion for all three fields. I took some government courses and found them too theoretical for the real world, so I switched to public policy—you get all the theory you need in econ anyway!

Major-specific activities:

Co-editor-in-chief of The Invisible Hand (undergraduate economics journal, sponsored by the Econ Department)
Participant in Professor Meir Kohn’s economics reading group

Thesis status:

Maybe—check back in a year!

Other activities:

Chair, International Court of Justice at DartMUN
Member of DartMUN team (we debate at conferences across New England)
Executive board member, ASEANO (Southeast Asian students’ organization)
Receptionist, Dartmouth Admissions Office

Off-campus program:

History FSP in London, 09F

Internship experience:

Centre for Public Policy Studies, Research Assistant, 08X, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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Joe Indvik ‘10 ECON-MOD-JoeIndvik
F09-S10 D-plan:  R-R-R
Economics modified with Environmental Studies, minor in Ancient History

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

Economics truly shines when integrated with other fields.  Rather than a self-contained discipline, I prefer to view it as a toolbox of skills and methodologies—a mindset—that can be applied to analyze problems.  It provides insights into the nature of human behavior that other departments neglect.  Those insights are not purely academic: about 25% of politicians worldwide begin their careers in business or economics (Economist 4/16/2009).  In short, economics is far from a “dead” or “dismal” science.  One weakness:  the study abroad program to Italy offers classes rather than hands-on experience.  You’ll have to seek out the real challenges on your own!

Important info for potential majors:

First, don’t dismiss lower-level courses (like ECON 1 and 10) as boring prereqs.  I loved them!  Second, think carefully about how you want to specialize within the department.  Economics majors select two “sequences,” sets of two or three courses in which they explore a particular aspect of the field in detail.  This set-up makes the major amazingly customizable.  Don’t just lock yourself in.  Mess with it, modify it, and make it work for you!

Talk to me if:

You want to use the tools provided by economics to explore development, conservation, energy, environmental issues, or any other discipline.  Also, if you are considering a modified major.

Most valuable academic info learned:

Study abroad!  Even on an FSP or LSA from a seemingly unrelated department, you will have the opportunity to apply economics to the world around you in new and interesting ways.  I cannot stress enough that economics is not purely about class work.  Its true value lies in stepping out into the real world to confront, analyze, and solve problems with the skills you acquire in the classroom.

Favorite class and professor:

ENVS 42: Social and Political Aspects of Development and Conservation in Southern Africa with Professors Bill Roebuck and David Mbora.  We toured a variety projects, exploring how economic incentives can be aligned to promote biodiversity conservation while bolstering the livelihoods of local people.  This course exposed me to the on-the-ground realities that policymakers experience as they strive to balance environmental, developmental, and political goals.

Major classes taken:

ECON 1, 10, 21; ENVS 39, 40, 42, 84; GEOG 5; EARS 1

Major journey:

I came to Dartmouth interested in anthropology, but after a few classes I decided that I prefer a more quantitative social science.  Also, I had been deeply interested in environmental problems for a few years, but the turning point came when I realized that I wanted to dedicate my career to solving them.  Majoring in ECON modified with ENVS allows me to use the tools of economics to develop practical environmental solutions.

Major-specific activities:

ECON 1 tutor for Academic Skills Center

Thesis status:

Not planning to do one.

Other activities:

Dartmouth Council on Climate Change; PowerShift 2009 – Attendee and Student Lobbyist; Environmental Conservation Organization; Hood Museum of Art – Security Guard

Off-campus program:

Environmental Studies FSP in South Africa, Namibia, and Lesotho, 08F; Classics FSP in London, Greece, and Turkey, 09S.

Internship experience:

Standard and Poor’s Vista Research, Research Intern, 08S, New York City; IPMopedia.org, Lead Content Developer and Marketing and Outreach Associate, 08F and 08X, Seattle (online); Environmental Defense Fund, Climate and Air Policy Research Intern, 09X, Austin, TX.

sliderTarang Agarwal ‘11 ECON-TarangAgarwal
F09-S10 D-plan:  R-R-R
Economics, Mathematics

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

Economics professors are leaders in their field and embrace the interest students have in applying economic theory to real life. As such besides teaching us theory they are always ready to discuss important current events. This happens both in classes and outside of classes. The main downside of economics is that it can be hard to get into some of the required courses for the major.

Important info for potential majors:

Talk to me if: I am particularly interested in finance and international economics.

Most valuable academic info learned:

1. Go to office hours! 2. Econ 1 is a really important class for the major but after that the 20-21-22 tend to be non essential for a lot of the specialization courses. The 20-21-22 sequence is hard to get into in the early years so if you are really interested in the major then don’t be afraid to try other classes. Additionally, sometimes a class is listed as a prereq because there are a few concepts that are easier to grasp after some exposure to the material. If you are interested in taking a class but haven’t done the prereq you should not hesitate to talk to the professor. They are always happy to see someone interested in their subject and you’ll be surprised how many times they are open to taking students without a prereq.

Favorite class and professor:

Theory of Finance, economics 36, with Professor Samwick was an amazing experience. We learnt about some of the most important theories and formulas in the world of finance. What was truly amazing about this class was the challenge. This was one of those courses at Dartmouth where knowledge of the theory isn’t enough. We had to be able to integrate what we had learnt and apply it to border issues. The true challenges and experiences this class offered were invaluable.

Major classes taken:

Econ 20, 21, 26, 35, 36, 39

Major journey:

I was confident that I would do an econ major before I got to Dartmouth. Taking a course or two in the department just solidified this notion.

Major-specific activities:

I am going to be Prof. Eric Zitzewitz’s Presidential Scholar doing research on “Institutional Investor Trading Activity.”

Thesis status:

I am considering doing a thesis. I will take econ 46 and then decide.

Other activities:

Dartmouth Parliamentary Debate-Treasurer, Captain; Dartmouth Rotaract; International Students Association

Internship experience:

HSBC, Summer Analyst in the Risk Analysis Unit Singapore

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Kathy Oprea ‘10 GOVT-KathyOprea
F09-S10 D-plan: R-R-R
Double Major Env. Studies

Favorite and least favorite things about your department:

The economics department has many different “tracks” which allow students to really specialize in their field of interest.  The professors are willing to help students who are having trouble in the course, and there are enough Econ majors that it’s easy to find someone to study with in any class that you’re in.  However, because the classes are so large it is sometimes difficult to get to know the professors or to have engaging discussions without visiting them during office hours.

Important info for potential majors:

I would encourage all students thinking of being Econ majors to read about the professors in the department and find one that shares your interests, and get to know them as an advisor.  Sometimes it’s helpful to talk to someone in the field in order to figure out what you’re really interested in.

Talk to me if:

You are interested in economic development or environmental economics.  As well, I’d love to talk to you if you are thinking about writing a thesis or doing a Presidential Scholar research project.

Most valuable academic info learned:

Find something that you are really interested in, and a professor who shares that interest.  Outside research is the best way to develop analytical and writing skills and will make you want to do work independently.

Favorite class and professor:

Econ 72, Law & Economics with Prof. Fischel

Major classes taken:

ECON 72, 38, 24, 27, 22, 21, 20, 10, 1

Major journey:

I came to Dartmouth with the intention of majoring in economics to prepare me for law school.  Sophomore spring, I became interested in environmental economics, and worked with an ENVS professor doing research on the abatement costs of mercury emissions for coal-fired power plants in New England.  Junior winter, I worked at the US Department of Justice Environmental Division, and realized that my true passion was solving environmental policy problems with the least economic costs.

Major-specific activities:

Presidential Scholar Research Assistant with Prof. Richard Howarth of the Env. Studies Department

Thesis status:

“Renewable Energy Efficiencies and the Best Government Policy to encourage Investment”

Other activities:

Daniel Webster Legal Society Center Discussion Group Leader; Varsity Sailing Team; Alpha-Xi-Delta Sorority; Big Brother Big Sister; String Trio Chamber Groups

Off-campus program:

French FSP in Paris, 08W
Internship experience: Team NEO Economic Development Organization, Cleveland, OH (07X); US Department of Justice Environment and Natural Resources Division, Washington, DC (09W); The Cleveland Carbon Fund at the Cleveland Foundation (09X)

Internship experience:

Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, OH