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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

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, Google processes 1.2 trillion Internet searches per year worldwide, ecommerce sales topped $1 trillion in 2012, and more cell phones than people will exist by 2015.

This course analyzes economic effects of advances in technology, incentives and innovation. 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. Students will explore questions such as: What will be the effects of continuous advances in innovation, inventions, 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? 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. Each student or team of students will choose a topic to analyze in further detail and present as a final project. Examples of recent projects include: How will innovation in China affect other countries? What will be the economic impact of a particular future technology, e.g., electric vehicles, non-fossil-fuel energy generation, food-related innovations, genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence or information? What are the implications of advanced automation technology in a country like India?

By the end of the class, students will leave with an ability to better analyze data, headlines, news articles and many 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. Students are encouraged to bring their own laptop computers or other electronic devices; however, these are not required.