Date: Thu, 18 Apr 1996 15:54:59 MST
                                        From: Renee Buchanan []

University of Utah


(You can contact me readily by e-mail:; I also have a site on the Economics web: which we will use for the course).

'The role of economics in understanding social problems. The course is designed as a general information course for persons not majoring in economics. Specific content and emphasis will vary from quarter to quarter depending on the interests and expertise of the instructor."

We will deal with "contemporary social issues," and dealing with them through actual direct service will be an integral part of the course. I also hope that the students can use our "information resource development" process to work with their agency and to provide something that will be of use to the agency in its work.


  1. Students will provide direct service according to agreements with the particular agencies involved and will also provide the agency with an "information resource" on some area the agency has asked for help. This should be aimed at a particular need as requested by the agency so as not to be another part of the "information overflow" which agencies experience; it should also allow the students to use all approaches to information gathering. I am on the Boards of The Childrens Center and of Catholic Community Services and will explore linkages with them and their sub-projects--though I want to be very careful about mixing roles. In my discussions with the Bennion Center, other possible agencies are Traveler's Aid Shelter, JEDI Women, Utah Issues, and the Boys and Girls Clubs. I am also involved with the Kids Coalition which may provide a useful collaboration with a student group.
  2. This will be ensured by the choice of agencies and by the particular project. The issues we choose to deal with as a class will relate directly to the issues of concern to the particular agencies, e.g. housing. The content of economics will emphasize the social issues" elements. And the information resources portion of the course will also be geared to finding information that could be of use to the non-profit sector.
  3. I will ask students to keep a weekly journal which I will read but we will also have each of the groups reflect on their experience and have a class session to explore that experience-
  4. Both the journal and the group reflection will provide mechanisms for assessing the learning derived from service. 'That will account for 10 percent of the total grade as noted on the syllabus. I' will plan to draw on the expertise of the TA if one is provided for the course.
  5. The agency's response to the "information resources will be one means of recipient evaluation and we will also attempt to schedule a reflection session with the recipients of the direct service.
  6. There is no career preparation here. Indeed the underlying framework for the entire course is civic education," based upon my interest and involvement in economic rhetoric and economic policy.
  7. We will choose issues that will relate directly to the service experience of each group, e.g. a student group working with JEDI Women would take responsibility for Issue 4, "Are Women Paid Less Than Men Because Their Working Conditions are More Favorable?"(I'm sure JEDI women would have a perspective on this).
  8. I now use group work in all my classes and so there will be a structure that will facilitate, and indeed require, that. the students learn from each other as well as from me--and from the agencies they are working with.

GENERAL INTRODUCTION TO ECONOMICS AS A SOCIAL SCIENCE We will jointly explore "the role of economics in understanding social problems.,, I have designed the course to introduce you to economics and its way of thinking, to examine contemporary approaches to a number of public policy issues, and to allow active engagement with the issues and the collection and use of information on them. We will also be engaged in the process of "making knowledge,, jointly.

The following paperback materials are required:

Schiller,_ Essentials of Economics_, 2nd ];,d Swartz-Bonello, _Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Controversial Economic Issues, _7th Ed.

The course grade will be based on the following elements:

Two Exams 40%
Group Issue Preparation

      And Presentation             25%
 Group Service Project             25%
 Individual Service
      Contribution                10%,

This is a five credit class which by university regulations should correspond to about 15 hours of total dedication per week. I think the actual time commitment for most students will be less. We will follow the schedule below and the due dates for presentations and the exam dates will not be changed; the required reading assignments will fall approximately on the dates listed.(NOTE: I WILL DO THIS AT A LATER DATE)


We will meet together two times per week for approximately two hours. In addition, since this is a service-learning class, students will spend time at and working with community organizations. The classes will combine lecture, group work, and student presentations. we will be doing a variety of things over the course of the quarter, organized roughly as follows:

Economics Content: a portion of each week will be spent on the content of Economics, based on the Schiller book. This will be most heavy in the initial weeks but will continue throughout to ensure coverage of "the essentials of economics.' The coverage will not be highly technical and will orient toward practical applications.

Information Resources: we will learn how to gather, and use, information, starting with printed works, going through organized electronic search resources and ending with the unorganized hyper-space of the Internet. All will have some familiarity with all resource areas, but the groups will have specializations within them as they work on their projects. We will learn about information resources early in the quarter, and each student will have a student computer account; then we will use this knowledge in group presentations and projects with local agencies.

Social Issues: as an entire class, we will do several of the issues in the Taking Sides book midway through the quarter. Then each student group will lead our work on the issue which is most directly related to the service agency they are working with. We will work through the economics of the issue and the different perspectives one can bring. And the group will provide us with a resource guide to information on the issue.

Service-Learning: each student will be assigned to a local agency for service learning. This will initially be working as a volunteer in the agency for four hours per week. By mid-quarter the students in the group and the agency will also develop a project built around information collection which will serve the needs of the agency. The project will be presented to the full class and will be delivered to the agency by the end of the quarter. By the end of the quarter, this will be the main service activity for the students in each group.