J. Dustin Tracy

PhD Candidate

Economics

I want to teach to enrich the lives of students. I hope they can not only gain an understanding of economics, but they can also use that knowledge to gain a better understanding of the world around them. In introductory classes, I would like to inspire young minds to take up economics as a major, but know many of them will not. For those that do not, I hope that the class is not just another distribution requirement that they trudge through, but that through the class they can gain a perspective on the world that helps them be effective in whatever their chosen field is.

Money does make the world go round, and much the way physics explains the movement of mass, economics explains the movement of money. I also want to show students that the underlying principles apply to any commodity that is scarce, including their time. The principles extend to transactions and decisions that are not mediated by money. Fundamentally, every decision is that of weighing costs versus benefits, even if neither is monetary. I aspire to bring real world decision into the classroom in the examples and illustrations I present and in the problems I assign.

My background in experimental economics is an asset in this endeavor. Many experiments can be adapted to be classroom exercises. I have conducted a market demonstration experiment in my adviser's class that illustrated many economic principles. Fundamentally, it illustrated the origins of supply and demand curves and how they combine to create an equilibrium. There was a variant to demonstrate market power and the impact of a market shock. Additional since it was an environmental economic class, we illustrated how an externality can distort the equilibrium, and how a Pigovian tax can correct it.

Economics is all around us every day. I'll strive to guide students to seeing this, for not only does this help students understand the importance of economics; more fundamentally it helps them understand the material. It is important that they understand what forces drive the prices of oil, wheat, and stocks; what the federal funds rate it is and how it effects the rate that they might borrow at. These markets impact their lives, but they are like the currents of the ocean; one can only learn to adapt to them. I believe the most important insights come when one taps the wisdom and knowledge they have from participating in markets every day. The laws of economics are no longer foreign mysteries, but ideas students already understand described in a new language.

Economics, like physics, and the universe, is expanding. Mastering the economic principles not only gives tremendous insight into the world, but also gives us language, frames, and tools to describe, understand and solve the problems that remain. Just as any solution to a mechanical problem must obey the laws of physics, any solution to a social problem must obey the laws of economics. We can explain how markets work, but also why they fail. Examples like externalities, lack of competition, imperfect information and prohibitive transaction costs are plentiful. Through recognizing these failures, and then pricing hidden costs, removing barriers to entry, improving information, and reducing transaction costs, economics is solving pressing social problems and improving people's lives.

I have completed GSU's pedagogy course and passed the teaching qualification exam. Unfortunately despite these preparations, I did not have the chance to teach a college course. I have taught workshops on the R statistical package, and developed and taught employee development courses and biweekly art classes for a middle school special education classroom, and tutored on levels ranging from elementary school to adult ESL.

Ultimately I hope my teaching illuminates the principles of economics and their influence in the world. Through that understanding I hope students appreciate that it is also a vital, dynamic and exciting field to study, inspiring to want to learn more and to apply economics to bettering their world.