the final exam is inspired by “economic naturalist writing assignment” by Robert Frank.  More info here.

The idea is to ask students to observe economic phenomena in the same way that a naturalist observes nature and asking questions such as “Why did this happen the way it did?

In the assignment, students have to present a specific economic phenomenon (or misbehavior) they find interesting, explain its relevance, pose an intriguing question and then try to answer that question the best they can using the theories we have discussed in the class.

Student (individually) have 7 days after the end of the course to submit their assignment. This assignment should look like a short essay consisting of three parts: 

1) Facts.  Students summarize the phenomenon they are looking at in as much detail as necessary. Ideally, they should explain the economic relevance using data and statistics (for instance using data from https://ourworldindata.org).

2) Question. Pose as clearly as possible the question that the facts about this phenomenon raise in their mind. Ideally, they should specify why this question is intriguing and/or counterintuitive. Note that students will decide the question.

3) Analysis. Use the theoretical materials seen in the course to attempt to answer the question. They should provide a concrete and testable explanation for their question and link their explanation to the existing literature.

During the ten days of the course, I will have a daily Zoom discussion where students will discuss with me some example of “misbehavior” (Examples: should we forbid polygamy? Who should get the ventilators?). For this activity I will use podcasts (for instance Freakonomics), provocative articles and videos. This should help them to sharp their economic reasoning and tools. I will also ask my TA to challenge them with online questions, group work and quizzes.