Supply and demand curve with hamburger image

Concise Online Videos Illuminate Economics

Nov. 3, 2017 - Susan T. Burtch

The quantity of demand decreases when the price of goods increases and increases when the price of goods decreases.

Simple, right? It’s the basic law of demand, a core concept in the study of economics. But all those increases and decreases can become confusing. Maybe the concept is easier to remember when applied to Big Mac burgers vs. Burger King burgers. It’s certainly easier to grasp when hamburger visuals and line graphs reinforce the idea in a 5-minute online video.

The Business Foundation Board agreed with that vision. In a “Shark Tank”-like competition for funding in March of 2016, it awarded funds to the Department of Economics for the development and production of online videos to supplement classroom learning.

“We’re really just utilizing new technology to reach students,” explains Carol Scotese, Chair of the Economics Department. “We want to engage our students in a way that’s more meaningful to them and helps them learn best. It doesn’t distance them from their professor; it brings them closer together. Online content makes the subject more meaningful. It enhances the classroom experience.”

Case in point: The Federal Reserve

For instance, one of the new online videos will explain what the Federal Reserve is and how it makes decisions about interest rates. Scotese imagines the ensuring classroom discussion could then jump to the economic situation in the U.S. today. “For instance, will the Fed decide to lower interest rates in order to stimulate the economy and encourage employment? Why or why not?”

Last year the 11-member economics faculty produced an impressive 100 video clips. This year they’re aiming for 70 more. “We began with the idea that we wanted to anchor the key concepts of economics to reach the widest audience:  macro and microeconomics. But we also have expertise in a relatively new branch of the field, behavioral economics,” says Scotese.

Behavioral economics is a hot topic these days, with Michael Lewis’ new book The Undoing Project recently climbing into USA Today’s Top Ten Books List. According to Scotese, “Behavioral economics seeks to explain how people actually make economic decisions, rather than how we think they should make them.”

Sounds like a good theme for the next round of online videos.

Watch Dr. Scotese's video: Monetary Policy Overview