Outdoor Study Group


Current & Upcoming Courses


Experimental Economics

Offered next: Fall 2021

Through the use of laboratory and field experiments, experimental economics is continually refining our understanding of human economic behavior. Its findings have both confirmed and challenged standard economic theory and bolstered our understanding of the ways in which the economic decisions of individuals and groups can deviate, sometimes dramatically, from those predicted by the rational actor model.  This course provides students with a foundation in the use of experiments for testing hypotheses about economic behavior. Topics covered include experimental economics ethics, basics of experimental design in economics, opportunities, challenges, and limitations of experimental methods, commonly used approaches for studying cooperation and competition, analysis of experimental data, and key contributions to the economics literature. Throughout the semester, the class will work together to design, implement, and analyze the results of an economic experiment. The semester culminates in the creation and presentation of student-designed experimental research proposals.

Behavioral Economics

Offered next: Spring 2023

Behavioral research continues to demonstrate that the economic decisions of individuals and groups can deviate, sometimes dramatically, from those predicted by standard economic theory’s rational actor model.  Behavioral economics seeks to explain the economic decision-making of homo sapiens economicus, the psychologically complex, cognitively limited, emotional, social decision-maker.  Topics covered in this course include bounded rationality, heuristics & biases, prospect theory, time preferences, social preferences, anchoring, priming, moral balancing, and applications to public policy.

Good: The Study & Practice of Human Cooperation

Offered last: Fall 2020 (not regularly offered)

What does it mean to be “good”? Do intentions matter? Or just behavior? Why are some people willing to sacrifice to improve the well-being of others? Does our ability to cooperate set humans apart from other species? How do different disciplines approach the study of human cooperation? Is cooperation always a good thing? How can we motivate others to do good in the world? Should people be paid to do the right thing? Through lectures, class activities, discussion, experiments, random acts of kindness, service to others, and self-reflection, we will begin to answer these questions and more; we will both study and practice human cooperation. Research questions, methodologies, and findings from economics, psychology, neuroscience, sociology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, and political science will be explored, though strongest focus will be on the economics of prosocial behavior.

Statistical Methods

Offered next: Fall 2022 (offered every semester by department)

Whether you aim to conduct economic research, prepare a business plan, or merely make sense of the evening news, the ability to understand, perform, and communicate statistical analyses is essential. This course covers the summarization, analysis, and communication of quantitative information.  Topics include numerical and graphical descriptive statistics, probability, sampling, interval estimation, hypothesis testing, inference, and an introduction to simple and multiple linear regression analysis.  Students conduct statistical analyses manually and through the use of statistical software. The culminating experience is the replication of the graphical communication and statistical analyses of a published economics journal article.

Intro to Microeconomics

Offered next: Fall 2021

This course explores the basic principles of microeconomics. The course serves as a strong foundation for future coursework in economics, but is designed to be accessible and relevant to all. Lectures are supplemented with hands-on in-class work, discussions of current events and academic literature, and the use of active demonstrations and economic experiments.

Environmental & Resource Economics

Offered next: Spring 2022

Should we use market mechanisms or command and control policies to address pollution? How do economists go about assigning an economic value to a natural resource? How do we avoid the tragedy of the commons? How might we account for the environment in our national income? How do our time preferences affect our ability to address climate change? What is the economic impact of local, state, and national environmental policies?

This course provides an introduction to the use of economic principles and techniques as applied to contemporary environmental and resource policy and management. Topics covered include evaluation of environmental policies, valuation of environmental goods and services, climate change, and management of renewable and non-renewable resources.