Economic Development in the Age of Globalization (Econ 314)

Structured debates are a powerful learning experience for assessing arguments, engaging counter-arguments, and evaluating evidence. A team of two students on each side of a proposition prepares a constructive speech mustering the most powerful arguments and evidence based on the readings, responds to cross-examination, cross-examines the opposing side, and finishes with a rebuttal. Watch the beginning of Phyu-Sin-Lin Than’s rebuttal of the affirmative’s arguments that trade liberalization is the best way to foster economic development.

Learning by Doing

Instructor: Professor Paus

Why have some developing countries been able to close the income gap with industrialized countries over the past half century while most have seen the gap widening? What policies should a developing country government adopt so that the economy grows in a sustainable way, poverty declines and increasingly more of its citizens can enjoy a decent life? And what challenges and opportunities does the current globalization process offer for the prospects of economic development in latecomers?

Around the world, governments and economists have been wrestling with these and other important questions about economic development. Their answers often differ. Why? Different schools of thought make different assumptions about what are the main building blocks of their analytical models; empirical evidence can be inconclusive because the model, the data, or the methodology employed differ across studies; and analyses that seem to be supported by evidence in one country or time period may not hold up in another country or era.

My goal for each student in this seminar is that, by the end of the semester, she is able to take a well-reasoned position (in writing and speaking) in the key debates on globalization and development that we study in class and to articulate policy recommendations. To that end, she needs to develop an understanding of the assumptions underlying different theoretical positions and gain the ability to assess empirical evidence supporting different claims.

Students best develop these critical skills by taking an active part: learning by doing. In discussions, students learn to engage each other’s points (question them, refute them, or support them); in structured assignments, students learn to apply theory to concrete problems and also advance their quantitative and technological capabilities; in graded debates, students learn to challenge the core assumptions and evidence of the opposing side and think on their feet during cross-examinations and rebuttals. And, students learn that re-writing and re-debating is an awesome way to hone their argumentation skills.