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Technology and its Effect on Business and World Economies

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Course DatesWeeksMeeting TimesStatusInstructor(s)CRN
June 15, 2015 - June 26, 20152M-F 12:15-3:05POpenNatalie Webb10260

Course Description

This course analyzes economic effects of continuous advances in technology, automation in production, outsourcing and globalization. From nanotechnology to smart phones to 3D printers, this course helps students understand and predict what the economy of the future will look like.

In 1980, three television stations provided entertainment, telephones were stuck to walls, computers took up entire rooms and people found facts in books and consumer goods in a store. Today, smart chips no bigger than a fingernail hold more information than the computer of the 1980s, more than five billion people subscribe to mobile telephone service and the Internet provides access to information on goods and services available worldwide.

What will the economy of the future look like? What will be the effects of continuous advances in technology, automation in production, outsourcing and globalization? How do technological changes affect economic growth and development? How do economic factors and development affect technology? Will advancing technology make society as a whole more wealthy? More powerful? What government policies might make sense as technology continues to advance?

Economics confronts these questions by looking at how individuals and firms make decisions to allocate their limited resources. The instructor will provide students with an introduction to the concepts of economics in a global world including supply and demand, rational individual and business decisions, the role of government and demographics. Theoretical material given during lecture sessions will be supplemented by discussion sections and group work.
Students will engage with the instructor and one another in problem solving and project work using technology, data and the Internet to analyze and predict economic and financial trends. Each student or team of students will choose a topic to analyze in further detail and present as a final project. Examples of projects include: How will innovation in China affect other countries? What will be the economic impact of a particular future technology, e.g., nanotechnology, food-related innovations, genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence or information? What are the implications of advanced automation technology in a country like India? Students are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers, iPads, or other electronic devices; however, these are not required.

By the end of the class, students will leave with an ability to better analyze data, headlines, news articles and many political discussions more quickly and critically. Students will take away important economic tools and problem-solving skills they will build upon in college and find useful in understanding the world around them.

The course does not require any prior training in economics, but does require some basic training in mathematics, particularly in understanding graphs.