Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism

Student Resources

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Zaruma, Ecuador

The BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism supports course offerings, student research, entrepreneurial competitions and advising for students interested in pursuing majors offered by the Stetson School of Business and Economics.

Please explore the following resources:

ECN 450 - The Economic and Moral Foundations of Capitalism
Dr. Antonio Saravia
Offered every Spring

See the Syllabus from Spring 2017

ECN 477 - Special Topics: Institutional Barriers to Entrepreneurship
Dr. Antonio Saravia
Summer 2017

There is widespread agreement that institutions –the laws and informal conventions within societies that both permit and bound economic behavior –matter a great deal in the process of economic development. Economists have produced a large body of literature providing empirical evidence on this claim. Most of these studies use country level data derived from macro indices such as those of economic freedom, country risk ratings, etc. Much less has been done using case studies or fieldwork for specific regions or communities. This project falls under the latter category.

Benefiting from an ongoing relationship between Mercer University and the town of Zaruma in the southern part of Ecuador, the project will consist of studying the relevant features of the institutional setting in the region as they relate to entrepreneurial activities. Using iterative field research as our main methodological tool, our group of faculty and students will collect data through surveys and conversations with economic agents to elicit information about the incentives shaping their economic behavior (in terms of investment, innovation, etc.) and the institutional arrangements that determine those incentives in the first place. 

The ultimate goal is to utilize the information collected to build an institutional roadmap of the economics of entrepreneurship in Zaruma. We expect that this information will allow us or other researchers to further expand our understanding of the challenges of development faced by agricultural communities in Latin America and assess the potential impact of different public policies.

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Mom2-2 Mom2-3

 

ECN 477 - Special Topics: Fieldwork in Development Economics
Dr. Antonio Saravia
Summer 2016

This course surveyed the foundations of fieldwork research methodologies in development economics and prepared students to perform fieldwork research in Zaruma, Ecuador, as part of a Mercer on Mission program.

The goal of the course and the research project that accompanied it was to elicit information about the incentives shaping the behavior of key economic agents in Zaruma as determined by the institutional arrangements they face

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Students interviewing a coffee farmer
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Students at a coffee farm

 

What is Economics?

Economics is the social science that focuses on the fundamental problem of scarcity. When you think about it, everything around you is scarce: time, resources, physical abilities, etc. Choices, therefore, must always be made. Economics is the study of how individuals and societies arrive at those choices and their consequences.

Because the problem of scarcity has always been with us, the study of economics has always been with us as well. Philosophers that have pondered questions economic in nature include Plato, Aristotle, Saint Thomas Aquinas, John Locke, David Hume, Karl Marx, and Adam Smith. Economics is a very rich liberal arts discipline that has evolved for centuries and continues to increase its relevance over time. Furthermore, given its focus on decision-making in face of scarcity, economics provides tools to address issues in host of other fields varying from public choice (study of government and politicians’ behavior) to sports, religion, etc.

Economics as a Business Discipline

One of the main lessons learned through the study of economics is that markets are the most efficient way to allocate scarce resources. Markets consist on groups of buyers and sellers exchanging goods and services at a particular price. Not surprisingly, therefore, economics is usually associated with other business disciplines. Businesses, just like consumers, are always trying to get the most out of their scarce resources. Budgets for research and development, product differentiation, payroll, capital expense and advertising are always limited. A firm interested in getting the most out of scarce budgets will have to make difficult economic choices. The discipline of economics has many valuable and direct applications in the world of business and economists develop fruitful careers in it as a result.

Why Study Economics?

By pursuing a major or minor in economics, students can immerse themselves in the rich liberal arts environment that Mercer University offers and earn a degree that will bring many career opportunities moving forward. Economics will never be rendered obsolete and is very flexible. Firms and other organizations, regardless of the era, have always valued sound decision-making in an environment of scarcity. As a result, economics majors are qualified to fill a wide range of jobs and become business managers, public administrators, research analysts, environmental economists, stock brokers, policy makers, etc.

Economics has always ranked among the highest paid majors in the country. For example, PayScale Salary Survey ranks Economics as the 15th highest paid major out of 129 different majors for 2013-2014. The same publication ranks Economics as #1 and the highest paid major among business disciplines. See payscale.com. Also, the Hamilton Project study found that “…of the best-paid graduates in all fields, economics majors rake in the most.”  

Additionally, an academic background in economics can also serve as a springboard for successful graduate studies. A recent study in the Journal of Economic Education analyzed law school exam entrance scores of students by undergraduate major and found that economics majors earned the highest average score. Studying economics certainly appears to provide fruitful preparation for law school hopefuls. Graduate studies in economics can also lead to advanced employment opportunities in industry and government as well as teaching and research careers in academics.

Opportunities in Economics at Mercer University

We are proud to say that our program has gained international accreditation (granted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools in Business) and has also been granted a chapter of Omicron Delta Epsilon (ODE). ODE is an international honor society in economics that seeks to build strong relationships among faculty and students as well as to recognize outstanding academic achievement in the field of economics. 

Mercer students can become involved in the economics discipline in a variety of ways. Students can choose to pursue either a major or minor in economics (the requirements for each of these are outlined below). Students that demonstrate a consistent level of academic excellence are eligible to be inducted into Omicron Delta Epsilon and also can graduate with honors.

Additionally, the Stetson School of Business and Economics hosts the BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism, which supports students’ research initiatives. The BB&T center offers periodic grants that support research work and travel to national conferences, organizes a speaker series and funds entrepreneurship events.

Major and minor in Economics

Degree Requirements for the Bachelor of Arts Degree in Economics  

Calculus Requirement
MAT 191/191L: Calculus I/Calculus I Lab (Recommended) OR
MAT 141: Calculus for the Social Sciences

Statistics Requirement
MAT 226: Elementary Statistical Methods OR
MAT 320: Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics

Economics Content

The major consists of 27 semester hours:
ACC 204: Introductory Financial Accounting
ECN 150: Principles of Microeconomics
ECN 151: Principles of Macroeconomics
ECN 302: Intermediate Microeconomics
ECN 303: Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECN 353: Econometrics

In addition to these courses, students are required to take 3 additional courses from the following course offerings:
ECN 350: The Economic and Moral Foundations of Capitalism
ECN 372: American Economic History
ECN 432: Urban and Regional Economics
ECN 441: International Economics
ECN 443: Labor Economics
ECN 445: Industrial Organization
ECN 448: Seminar in Economic Growth
ECN 452: Environmental Economics

Degree Requirements for a Minor in Economics

To earn a minor in economics, students must complete 18 hours of study.

Statistics Requirement
MAT 226: Elementary Statistical Methods OR
MAT 320: Introduction to Probability and Mathematical Statistics

Economics Content
ECN 150: Principles of Microeconomics
ECN 151: Principles of Macroeconomics

In addition to these courses, students are required to take 3 additional courses from the following course offerings:
ECN 301: Money, Credit and Banking
ECN 302: Intermediate Microeconomics
ECN 303: Intermediate Macroeconomics
ECN 350: The Economic and Moral Foundations of Capitalism

ECN 353: Econometrics
ECN 372: American Economic History
ECN 432: Urban and Regional Economics
ECN 441: International Economics
ECN 443: Labor Economics
ECN 445: Industrial Organization
ECN 448: Seminar in Economic Growth
ECN 452: Environmental Economics

The BB&T Center for Undergraduate Research in Public Policy and Capitalism supports the Departmental Honors Track in Economics and Finance. 

Honors Track in Economics

Departmental Honors in economics may be obtained by fulfilling the following requirements: 1) select an honors faculty advisor in economics by the end of the semester in which ECN 353 (Econometrics) has been successfully completed and keep this advisor informed of progress towards satisfying the honors requirements; 2) complete the B.B.A. major in economics with a grade point average of 3.5 or above within the major; 3) complete the business core curriculum with a grade point average of 3.0 or above; 4) enroll in and successfully complete ECN 478 (Research in Economics) by producing a paper of sufficient quality as determined by a committee of full time economics faculty.

Honors Track in Finance

Departmental Honors in finance may be obtained by fulfilling the following requirements: 1) select an honors faculty advisor in finance by the end of the semester in which ECN 353 (Econometrics) has been successfully completed and keep this advisor informed of progress towards satisfying the honors requirements; 2) complete the B.B.A. major in finance with a grade point average of 3.5 or above within the major; 3) complete the business core curriculum with a grade point average of 3.0 or above; 4) enroll in and successfully complete FIN 478 (Research in Finance) by producing a paper of sufficient quality as determined by a committee of full time finance faculty.

For more information please contact Dr. Saravia, Dr. Lynch or Dr. Ngene.