ECON 4494W — Course Mechanics

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About the course.

This course is intended primarily for students in the university-wide Honors Program or in the Department’s Economics Scholars Program (for both of whom it is a requirement), although other students may enroll with consent of the instructor.

This course will not try to teach any particular body of substantive economics.  Rather, it aims at preparing students to write a senior thesis in economics.  It does this by providing practice in the writing of economics and by surveying the field through the eyes of various UConn economics faculty members.  A representative number of faculty members will meet with us to discuss some aspect of their own research, allowing students a glimpse of what professional economists do and also helping students to choose a topic and an advisor for the thesis.

The overall objectives of the course, then, are three: (1) to give you a taste of what professional economists do and how they do it; (2) to make you a better writer; and -- perhaps most importantly -- (3) to challenge you with new ideas and to provoke you to think in new ways.

Course requirements.

Course requirements are a series of short papers focused on a class presentation by the instructor or a guest speaker.  Students will be assigned an article or two to read on the subject of the presentation.  Students will write a short (2 to 5 page) essay on some aspect of the topic.  The faculty member will speak informally for 30 to 45 minutes, and then we will turn to questions and discussion.  The reading and writing assignment is intended to prepare you to ask intelligent questions during the discussion.

Toward the end of the semester, I expect to schedule presentations by senior undergraduates who are completing their thesis projects.  These talks should help you get an idea of what is expected in a thesis and the range of topics that is possible.  There will also be one-on-one discussion of possible topics as appropriate.

Writing resources.

This is a W course, and we will spend a lot of time talking about -- and practicing -- writing. Here are some notes on writing.


The UConn student conduct code defines plagiarism as “intentionally or knowingly failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own.” Here are some resources from the UConn Libraries. I take plagiarism seriously.  If you have questions or concerns, please ask me.

Watch the Citing Sources video.