Thursday, December 14, 2006

Econ's killer app, not 

The Pope Center keeps a series called "Course of the Month" of rather outrageous curricula being offered for college credit. Alas, it appears last month's was one for economics.
This course comes to our attention by way of UNCG's student newspaper, the Carolinian. In the Sept. 19 issue, the paper reports:
The ECON 201 class, previously taught with a structured syllabus, lecturer and books, is now run and taught entirely through an online video game in the comfort of the students' own home on their own time.

The game was created by over 30 faculty and staff from UNCG's Department of Economics and the Division of Continual Learning. The game is called, simply, ECON201 and it revolves around alien species that have crash-landed on a futuristic, post-apocalyptic Earth. The students need to make well-reasoned economical decisions in order to get to the next level and survive. To survive the game means you survive your course - gaining three credited hours.
Jon Sanders points out that the course site has other pages on theory and video clips, but my limited experience with video games is that you don't learn much from the manual.

Economics is a way of thinking, as Keynes once said, a means of seeing the world. Experiencing an economy is not particularly helpful even if you accentuate the tradeoffs, since experiencing an economy is something we do every day we interact with other humans.