"The theory of economics does not furnish a body of settled conclusions immediately applicable to policy. It is a method rather than a doctrine, an apparatus of the mind, a technique of thinking which helps its possessor to draw correct conclusions."
– John Maynard Keynes
What is economics?
Economics is the study of how people make choices under conditions of scarcity and the consequences of these decisions for society. In other words, we acknowledge that resources are limited and study how people choose to use them in light of that fact. Economists study a broad range of topics including labor markets, the environment, education, healthcare, economic development, international trade and finance.
Economics courses teach students how to think analytically about social issues. Economics majors become keen critical thinkers, which makes them attractive candidates to a variety of employers. Some popular career fields for economics majors are public service, law, international relations and business.
For more information about the discipline of economics and career possibilities, visit the American Economic Association’s website for undergraduate students.
What economics courses are offered at GRCC?
GRCC offers the traditional two-course principles of economics sequence, which includes macroeconomics and microeconomics. There is no prerequisite for either of these courses, though some basic math skills will come in handy: graphs are one of economists’ favorite tools and sometimes the simplest way to explain relationships is through an equation. If you plan to take both of our economics courses you may take them in any order. You’re also welcome to just take one or the other.
Economics 251 is Principles of Macroeconomics. In macroeconomics we study the economy as a whole. We think about how the economy grows in the long run and why short run fluctuations such as recessions occur. We also learn about the tools the government has at its disposal to influence the economy. If you’re interested in discussing questions such as “How do we get the unemployment rate to fall?” or “What is inflation and what can we do about it?” this may be the class for you.
Economics 252 is Principles of Microeconomics. Microeconomics studies choice on an individual level. Thus, in macroeconomics we analyze the unemployment rate, while in microeconomics we study why an individual firm would choose to hire another worker, and why someone would choose to work or not. In Economics 252 we build basic models of consumer and producer behavior in a perfectly competitive market structure, and then we think about what can happen when markets don’t work perfectly. We learn about market power, externalities and public goods. If you’re interested in discussing questions like “When would we want to allow monopolies to exist?” or “How should the city of Grand Rapids run their recycling service?” you might enjoy taking microeconomics.
Who should I talk to if I have questions?
We have two full-time faculty members in economics. If you have questions about our economics course offerings or are considering a major in economics, please don’t hesitate to contact one of us for advising.