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MIT student blogger Mitra L. '07

Classes—Fall 05 by Mitra L. '07

It’s always awkward to post an entry about my classes for the semester, because later when classmates google the class number, they end up at my blog. If that applies to you, um, Hi.

14.41 Public Finance and Public Policy
professor: Jonathan Gruber (Formerly, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy with the U.S. Treasury Department. Currently, the author of the class textbook!!)
format: two 1.5 hour lectures a week, one 1 hour recitation
current material: We’ve discussed and graphed externalities (which “arise whenever the actions of one party make another party worse or better off, yet the first party neither bears the costs nor receives the benefits of doing so”) like acid rain, global warming, smoking, drinking, and obesity.
eventual material: Social insurance and redistribution (incl. social security, unemployment insurance, and health insurance) and tax theory/reform.
memorable quotation: “Assume everyone’s life is worth the same. It makse the math easier.”

11.014J American Urban History II
professor: Robert Fogelson
format: one 2 hour round-table discussion a week
current material: So far, we’ve discussed early parks, focusing on Central Park in New York City.
eventual material: Some of the future weekly themes are amusement parks, suburbs, tenements, skyscrapers, department stores, supermarkets, public baths, zoos, and cemeteries. We also will write a term paper on a topic of our choice, due in December.

14.21J Health Economics

professor: Jeffrey Harris (MD and PhD in economics)
format: two 1.5 hour lectures a week
current material: In a positive (as opposed to normative, not as opposed to negative) way, we examine health policy. So far, this includes government-sponsored contraception in developing nations, abortion incidence and services, and large-scale seizures of illegal drugs. We learn a little bit of the medical/biological background behind the topic, and then look at the economics (supply/demand shifts, income/substitution effects, etc) related to the issue.
eventual material: Don’t know yet =)

21H.927J The Economic History of Work and Family

professor: Anne McCants
format: one 2 hour round-table discussion a week
current material: So far, we’ve taken a quick sample of current-day conditions regarding labor, leisure, men, women, wealth, and poverty. It’s sort of hard to summarize our discussions, but I can send you a list of our readings if you’d like more information about this class.
eventual material: We have sections on family labor and standard of living in the Industrial Revolution, on male/female wage gaps, household welfare, and gender and consumption. Like 11.014, we also will write a term paper on a topic of our choice, due in December.

14.33 Economics Research and Communication

: Sara Fisher Ellison
format: two 1.5 hour lectures a week
current material: We’re about to begin working on group projects, and have our choice between two topics. #1 is a hedonic analysis of laptop features. You think of the product (laptop) as a bundle of characteristics (weight, memory, brand, etc.), and look at prices and traits to tease out the demand for an individual trait. #2 is an event study of gulf hurricanes. You use the capital asset pricing model (CAPM) for gas companies’ stock prices to test a stock’s reaction to the event. Other data in this analysis includes daily excess returns, hurricane category, weekly retail gas prices, etc.
eventual material: We will write our own formal economics papers on a topic of our choice. The group projects I described above are intended for us to practice interpreting data and writing a paper before we do it individually.

10 responses to “Classes—Fall 05”

  1. Mitra says:

    Jonathan — I’m not sure what percentage of classes are taught round-table, but I’d say you can fit at least one into every semester if you’d like. My 11.014 class has approx. 20 people, and my 21H.927 class has 5 people. Round-table, at least with my interpretation, means that we discuss issues together, instead of listening to a lecture and sitting quietly. Some professors choose to lead the round-tables, and others try only to moderate.

    Anonymous — I got into Yoga I but I’m still not sure if I’m going to take it.

  2. Jonathan says:

    Are a lot of classes at MIT taught in round-table style? Wait, what does that exactly entail and how many people are in the class?

  3. madmatt says:

    Mitra, you take the coolest classes, with the coolest professors! The only one of your profs I don’t know is your 14.33 prof, what is she like? And I think I want to sneak into the Fogelson class one of these days…

  4. Anonymous says:

    What happened to all those PE classes you were looking into? ( )

  5. TKD says:

    All those classes look so FUN!!! God, I’m so jealous…If I were in those classes, I’d be ALL OVER THAT STUFF — like a hog with its snout in the trough…So envious…

  6. Mike says:

    What are recitations versus lectures? I mean, I can kind of assume from the names, but what gets recited?

  7. Mitra says:

    Mike — Sorry, I should have explained that. Lectures are run by the professor, and in them, the whole class gathers to learn new material. In recitations, you go over that material in smaller groups, and have more time to do sample problems and tricky questions.

  8. Mike says:

    Oh okay, makes sense raspberry

  9. Faye V. says:

    hmmm being an Econ major seems like it has its perks, your classes don’t seeem too bad at all

  10. Stephanie says:

    Hey Mitra,

    I remember during dorm rush you mentioned blog stuff to me. Let me know if you still want me to do stuff.