George Orwell Liveblogs the Start of World War II
Econ 115: Lecture Topics, Readings, and Assignments

Econ 115: Initial Administrivia Handout

The World Economy in the Twentieth Century

Economics 115
Fall 2009
Tues. & Thurs. 12:30-2:00
Haas F295

Economics 115 is an upper division course for undergraduates. Economic concepts, where used, are developed from first principles, although students who have taken Intermediate Macroeconomics and Microeconomics will find the material most accessible. Some knowledge of International Economics is also helpful. Class meets three hours a week, section one hour a week.

Learning Goals for Economics Students. This course will stress the Economics Departmentís first and fourth learning goals (Critical Thinking Skills and Specialized Knowledge and Problem-solving Skills). For details on learning goals see

In Lieu of Handouts. This syllabus, midterms, and the final are the only materials that will be distributed in class. The three (required) books are available at bookstores and on reserve at the library. The reader is available at Copy Central on northside. All other materials will be available on the Economics 115 web page: (I have had enough bad experiences with bSpace to want to stay far away from it).

Office Hours. he instructor's office hours for this course are on Thursday 11-12:30, at the Business School cafeteria;

Sections and Graduate Student Instructors. Below is the contact information for the GSIs for this course:

Grigoriadis Theocharis
Hausman Joshua
Rao Manaswini
Sargent Matthew

Sections begin on Monday August 31. Consult the online schedule of classes for the most up-to-date information.

Admission. By Economics Department policy, you must attend your first section meeting or your space in this course will be given to another student. The instructor and GSIs do not have the power to admit students (or to readmit you if you are dropped). Students seeking admission should consult the following website for instructions: Economics Department policies and not your instructor and GSIs determine admissions priorities. At the moment we are staffed for 240 in a room that seats 300, but things inevitably adjust in the first week

Readers and Course Texts. Readers are available from Copy Central on Hearst at Euclid by North Gate. The texts for the course are Barry Eichengreen, Globalizing Capital; Jeffrey Frieden, Global Capitalism, and Eric Hobsbawm, The Age of Extremes. All are for sale at the ASUC store and your favorite on-line bookseller. The book and reader are also on reserve at Moffitt.

Clickers. The ideal size of a seminar is eight (so that nobody can hide). The ideal size of a lecture is fifty--so that the professor can ask and receive questions and answers, look at faces, and so read the temper of the room and figure out when he or she has lost more than a few stragglers, and go back and come at the material another way. We are going to have between 250 and 300. I also want to put the audio and the powerpoints for the lectures up on the internet. But if I do that than the 15% of the class that really needs to come to class won't--they will think that they will listen to the audio later, and they will be wrong. To try to get some more interactivity going and to provide an incentive to come to class, I am going to experiment with the i>clicker device So go get one at the ASUC store. The answers you give won't be graded as "right" and "wrong" but rather as "present" and "absent"--and it will be 10% of your grade.

Problem Sets. This is economics. That means that lots of information that comes to us comes in quantitative, countable form. The tools of arithmetic and algebra are very powerful ways of analyzing such information, and we think that you learn a lot more if you use them. Hence we are planning four problem sets, which will also be 10% of your grade. Problem sets will be graded on the following scale: 0--didn't hand it in; 1--tried but did not make a serious effort; 2--made a serious effort; 3--perfect.

Short Essays. The Economics Department fails to make its students write enough. This is a bad thing. We are going to push back against this by making you write five short papers over the course of the semester--and by "short" we mean "short": 2-5 pages. Papers will be graded on the following scale: 0--didn't hand it in; 1--tried but missed most of the point; 2--nailed the assignment; 3--taught the teaching staff something.

Final Exam. The exam group for this course is 17. This means that the final exam will be administered on Friday, December 18, 12:30-3:30 p.m. If you require special accommodation for exams due to learning or other disability, you should speak with your TA at the beginning of the semester. You will need to provide your TA with documentation from the Disabled Students Program. The final exam will count for 30% of the grade.

Midterms. We have scheduled three midterms. Miss two and fail the course. Take all three and then, at your option, skip the final exam and have your average midterm grade imputed to the final. The midterms will count for 30% of the grade.

Sections. Section quizzes and section participation will count for 10% of your grade.

Workload. This is the University of California at Berkeley, the finest public university in the world. You are all upper-middle class or upper class--if not in the size of your parents' houses in your options and expections--and thus much richer than the average taxpayer of California. Yet, even at today's reduced funding levels, the taxpayers of California are spending $10,000 a year subsidizing your education. Why are they doing this? Because they believe that if your brains get crammed full of knowledge and skills than many of you will do great things that will redound to the benefit of the state, the country, and the world. Therefore it is my business to cram your brains full of knowledge and skills. It is then your business to go out and try to do great things--and if those great things happen to involve a lot of money, remember the investment that the poorer-than-you taxpayers of California made in your education, and pass some of the resources you will earn on to your successors here at Berkeley. If I am happy in December with how the course has gone, the median grade will be a low B+. If I am mezza-mezza, the median grade will be a low B. If I am unhappy, the median grade will be a B-. If people don't do the work I assign--or if I were to assign less work--I assure you I will not be happy come December.