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Who We Are, What We Do: Department of Economics

Student Life

By Janet Harron

Economics deals with analysis and management of production, distribution and consumption of goods and services.

At Memorial, the Department of Economics offers applied economics courses in a wide variety of areas, including fishery, petroleum and mining, forestry, environmental, development, international, monetary, public sector, welfare, labour and health economics.

Facing scarcity

According to the department’s most recently arrived faculty member, Dr. Nahid Masoudi, economists are interested in how individuals, firms, government and others make their decisions when they face scarcity.

“Most economists focus on how people interact.” –Dr. Nahid Masoudi

For example, how does a consumer decide about spending his/her “limited” money or time among different alternatives? In the case of a married couple and how they choose to spend their money, the amount of money that Jen spends on groceries depends on how much money Sarah has spent on bills. These choices will have a direct impact on the happiness of both of them.

“Game theory is used in understanding and analyzing situations like this,” said Dr. Masoudi, whose most recent project deals with international environmental agreements on climate change.

“Formally, we can define game theory as multiperson decision theory, which refers to analyzing the decision-making process when there is more than one decision-maker and where each individual’s payoff possibly depends on the actions taken by the others. The essence of a game is the interdependence of choices or strategies. Of course, game theory is relevant to parlor games such as chess or poker, but most economists focus on how people interact.”

Video appearance

Dr. Masoudi appears with recent graduate Devin Drover in Who We Are, What We Do: Economics, the fourth in a series of teaser videos produced by the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences and created by multihyphenate writer/videographer/rapper/producer and recent Memorial graduate Timo Sargent.

Public policy-driven

Mr. Drover, a Spaniard’s Bay native, is attending Dalhousie in the fall to begin a joint MBA/juris docter (law) program. He was originally drawn to study economics due to his interest in public policy.

I wanted to deepen my understanding of many policy issues facing Newfoundland and Labrador, and learn how to propose meaningful solutions to address them. I believed that economics would provide me with the best background to understand these complexities in detail,” he explained.

Mr. Drover’s favourite class was Dr. Wade Locke’s fourth-year seminar in public expenditure.

“Under the instruction of Dr. Locke, my classmates and I studied various theories related to resource allocation and government intervention. Another one of my favourite classes was my third-year course on structures and problems of the provincial economy. In this class, we would regularly discuss both contemporary and historical economic problems facing our province.”

The small class sizes offered by the economics department helped Mr. Drover form meaningful relationships with fellow classmates and his professors.

There is also a lot of opportunity to gain valuable research experience, and work alongside professors who are global experts in their fields,” he said.

Applied economics-focused

The department’s focus on applied economics is exemplified by the economics co-operative education option where students combine study with three semesters of paid practical work experience throughout their degree program. Work terms allow economics students to apply their problem-solving skills to evaluate and predict economic relationships relevant to their employer. Co-op students have worked locally and nationally with many provincial and federal government departments, in the oil and gas sector and with not-for-profit organizations.

Students are also a key component in the success of Collaborative Applied Research in Economics (CARE). By involving students in applied research, CARE researchers aim to improve skills and maximize student interest, ultimately increasing the knowledge capital of the province long-term.

For more information, please visit the economics degree map, visit the department’s website or follow @CARE_mun on Twitter.

Who We Are, What We Do is a summer series from the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences featuring faculty and students discussing their discipline. The next installment of Who We Are, What We Do: English and Communications Studies, launching on June 28, features Drs. Jennifer Lokash and Jamie Skidmore and undergraduate students Jordan Steinhauer and Esther Eavreson.

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