My undergraduate teaching has been primarily in Microeconomics, Political Economy, Law and Economics, and Public Policy; my honors and master’s-level teaching has been in Applied/Managerial Microeconomics, Public Finance and Public Choice, Law and Economics, and Research Methods. I have also taught a class on Entrepreneurship, which focuses on the theories and process of entrepreneurship and the role creativity plays in that process. I also occasionally teach Advanced (Mathematical) Microeconomics for seniors (and math majors) who intend to go on to graduate school and an Economics and Literature class that examines the interplay between economics and fiction.

I have considerable practice teaching in both large lecture halls and in small seminars, have supervised teaching assistants, and coordinated numerous class streams.

In March 2014, I was awarded Florida Atlantic University’s highest university-wide award for Excellence and Innovation in Undergraduate Advising, largely owing to my substantial thesis supervision (I’ve supervised over 70 Honors theses). In March 2010, I was awarded FAU’s highest university-wide teaching award for Excellence and Innovation in Undergraduate Teaching. A number of my student advisees have presented their work at international conferences or published in refereed academic journals.

Jakee's Class Websites

    COURSE DESCRIPTIONS

    HONS LAW AND ECONOMICS

    Economics has had a profound effect on legal analysis, legal scholarship and public policy over the last few decades. As a result of this influence, many long-held views on legal principles and the effects of laws and legal decisions have been reexamined. This course is designed to give students an introduction to the issues and analysis of law and the legal system using the tools and approaches of economics. Largely based upon microeconomics, our subject matter is often referred to as the “rational choice” approach to law, although we will move beyond that strict definition.

    We will examine fundamental aspects of the law, such as the importance of cooperation and coordination among individuals in a society, the role of formal and informal rules, property rights, contracts, the efficiency of legal institutions, and constitutional versus non-constitutional decision making. We will also examine “economic” views of criminal behavior and the punishment thereof. We will attempt to bring economic theory together with real-world applications whenever possible.

    At the successful completion of this subject, students should:

    • Appreciate the importance and roll of rules in any society
    • Be well acquainted with core concepts of law and economics
    • Be able to apply law and economic principles to problems facing individuals and policy makers
    • Be able to communicate these concepts to others in written and oral forms.

     

    HONS PRINCIPLES OF MICROECONOMICS

    This is the first course in microeconomics. This course is designed to give you an understanding of basic economic concepts and to introduce the “economic way of thinking.” While we will stress mastering the basics of supply and demand, you should keep in mind that the real objective of any model or theory is to better understand the world around us and, to that end, we will try to apply the techniques whenever practical. By the end of this course you should be able to:

    • Understand some of the basic economic problems facing society.
    • Understand how economists characterize and model individual and firm behaviors.
    • Understand how economists use the supply and demand model to interpret and understand an array of social phenomena.
    • Understand how economists characterize the nature and relevance of the costs facing individuals, firms, and governments.
    • Understand the characteristics, pricing policies, and profit maximizing conditions relevant to various industry structures (e.g., “competitive”, “monopolistic”).
    • Understand how economists typically characterize “market failure” and what role the government might play in an ideal world.
    • Understand how economists characterize “government failure”, or how (and why) governments do not always live up to the ideals.
    • Apply simple microeconomic theory to some practical problems.
    • Communicate microeconomic concepts to others in written and oral forms.

     

    HONS PUBLIC FINANCE & PUBLIC POLICY

    The sub-field of economics known as Public Finance and/or Public Policy is one of the most useful areas to study in economics. Public finance issues are discussed in newspapers, policy debates, and around the kitchen table (dorm room?) every day; they strongly affect our daily lives and our standard of living. This course is designed to give students an introduction to the field, which attempts to understand the role of government in the economy. As such, the course is filled with valuable facts and analyses of programs that routinely affect us, like education, pollution control, health insurance, income redistribution, taxation (individual and corporate), federalism, and the public budgeting process. Most of public finance takes the government’s decision-making process for granted (i.e., how or why the government actually made its decisions) and focuses on the results of those decisions; in other words, it tends to focus on using economic tools to evaluate an “ideal” list of government activities and to evaluate how actual policies differ from the ideal. If you think of the government like any business or organization, you will recognize that it has revenues and expenditures. On the expenditure side of public finance, we study issues surrounding the activities (“expenditure”) of government: should the government be involved in particular areas or markets? How much should it be involved? In what fashion should it be involved? On the revenue side of public finance we study the issues surrounding the raising of revenue to fund its activities; generally, this means focusing on taxation and its effects.

    There are two important developments in public finance over recent decades that are reflected in the textbook. One is the increasing importance of studying transfer programs and social insurance; this emphasis reflects an equally growing importance of these programs as a percentage of overall government spending and policymaking. The other development is the increasing availability of good empirical work to test our theoretical models. Like the book, we will focus on three areas:

    • Externalities and Public Goods: In addition to introducing the theories, we will focus specifically on the two major public policy issues involving externalities: environmental externalities, such as acid rain and global warming, and health externalities. The public goods section will include discussions on education, as well as fiscal federalism, cost/benefit analysis, and political economy/public choice issues.
    • Social Insurance and Redistribution: There is an extensive discussion of the largest and fastest growing function of government, social insurance and redistribution. There are separate chapters for: redistribution and welfare policy; social security; unemployment insurance; and both public and private health insurance issues.
    • Taxation in Theory and Practice: We will cover the traditional theory of taxation and, to the extent possible, the key sources of current policy debate, including taxation on labor, capital gains taxation, estate taxation, and the use of the tax code as a tool of social policy.

    The models of public finance that we discuss should enable you to become a more discriminating observer, not only of the policy environment, but also of the many problems that each of us encounters in social settings on a daily basis. At the successful completion of this subject, you should:

    • be well acquainted with core concepts of public finance, how they affect your life everyday, and how economists study public policy decisions.
    • be able to communicate these concepts to others in written and oral forms.

     

    HONS ADVANCED RESEARCH AND WRITING IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES

    The object of the honors thesis is to further the professional and academic development of the candidate. This course (taken for credit once during the junior year and once during the first semester of your senior year) is designed to improve students ability to identify specific research problems, provide potential solutions, and communicate this progress in written and oral forms. One overriding rationale for this class is to force students to read and evaluate others’ research work. Doing this necessarily compels students to “communicate” with others about their writing, which is all-too-often non-existent without this compulsion. It forces each student to think about others’ problems, shortcomings and effectiveness of communication in a way that encourages students to think about their own work and progress differently. Increased self-reflection in this manner is therefore a key goal of this class and one that can only improve one’s own writing and research.

    There are a number of ways to conduct a writing course, including, among others, focusing on grammar and sentence construction, or on the creative aspect. This class will spend less time thinking about how to write good sentences and paragraphs, or how to dazzle readers with your imaginative wit and flair, since I will assume you have had (or will have) plenty of opportunities in the Honors Program to get training and feedback on these aspects of the writing process. We will instead concentrate on writing in the context of the research process. As a result, we will be reading, discussing, and doing exercises with the aim of better understanding the mechanics of the research writing process.

    The research/thesis process is often a mystery to the uninitiated, so we’ll try to demystify it. My aim is that each student know exactly how to go about starting and finishing any research project that might be assigned to him or her, either in an academic setting or a professional one. There really are (often overlooked) devices and insights that can help structure the research process and your writing; these devices can make all the difference in a project, not just for quality’s sake, but even in completing the project at all. Anyone who has done much research has seen plenty of very smart people who couldn’t get out of first gear with their own research because they hadn’t internalized some of these simple skills. Some of these skills include:

    • formulating a “researchable” topic or question
    • writing up a proposal on a planned topic, and
    • learning to separate brainstorming from organizing ideas from writing first drafts to completing final drafts
    • organizing your work in the form of an outline
    • gaining experience in reading and critiquing others’ writing, and similarly
    • learning how to receive feedback and criticism on your writing from others.

     

    Course Objectives
    In sum, this class is designed to:
    • Help you overcome the difficulties experienced in your thesis research by encouraging you to communicate with other economics/social science students;
    • Offer you an array of feedback on your projects beyond that which your direct supervisor can provide;
    • Improve your written and oral presentation skills in the most timely and effective manner;
    • Vastly improve the thesis outcome.

     

    HONS INTERMEDIATE MICROECONOMICS

    This is the second course in microeconomic theory. It covers most of the well-known topics in microeconomics, such as market equilibrium, demand-side factors, supply-side factors, market structure, market failure, and various policy issues, but it does so with more sophisticated tools than you saw in your first micro class. A large part of the theoretical emphasis is on “maximization” techniques, a mainstay of the modern economic method. It is simply impossible to understand modern economics without this technique. While we will stress the mastering of theory, it should be kept in mind that the real objective of theory is to better understand the world around us and, to that end, we will try to apply the techniques whenever practical.

    At the successful completion of this subject, students should:

    • Be able to apply core microeconomic concepts to problems facing individuals (consumers, managers and policy makers).
    • Understand how economists characterize and model individual and firm behaviors
    • Understand how economists use maximization models to interpret an array of social phenomena
    • Understand how economists characterize the nature and relevance of the costs facing individuals, firms, and governments.
    • Understand the characteristics, pricing policies, and profit maximizing conditions relevant to various industry structures (i.e., “competitive”, “monopolistic”, etc.)
    • Communicate microeconomic analysis to others in written and oral forms

     

    HONS AUSTRIAN ECONOMICS

    This course investigates the various aspects of the Austrian school of economics. While we cannot cover all aspects of Austrian economics, the main goal is to introduce you to the key insights of the Austrian school. In addition to providing an introduction to the various ideas that constitute “market process economics,” a second aim is to provide some historical and philosophical context. I would also like to provide some basics for making scholarly contributions to the broader economics discipline using Austrian insights.

    Learning Outcomes: Upon completion of this course, you will

    1. Understand the foundations of market process economics.
    2. Understand a number of key areas where market process approaches diverge from the neoclassical mainstream.
    3. Be able to build on these ideas to generate a market process approach to your own research problems.
    4. Improve your written and oral communication skills.

     

    Required Materials: The reading for this course comes from excerpts from books and journal articles. The list of readings is not intended to be an exhaustive list of all of the relevant readings for any given topic, but rather is intended to provide some of the core readings in each area on the syllabus.

     

    You need to do all of the required readings and come to class prepared to discuss them. More so than other areas of economics, market process economics traverse economic, sociological, philosophical and political dimensions. This makes market process economics very exciting on the one hand, but demands that issues be covered in a more nuanced fashion, in some instances, on the other.

     

     

    HONS MODERN POLITICAL ECONOMY

    This course is an introduction to the modern analysis of democratic politics. Unlike most other courses in economics or public policy, we’ll spend less time considering the policies themselves and more time developing theoretical models designed to explain how and why particular policies are adopted. In other words, instead of studying how government should work, we’ll be studying how we think government actually works. Moreover, while the course falls broadly within the rubric of “public finance,” the material we will cover is more specifically referred to as “public choice,” “new political economy,” or sometimes “rational choice;” it is also related to “law and economics.”

    In addition to utilizing tools which you have already seen in microeconomics, we will also see a number of new tools that apply specifically to “non-market” situations, known as collective choice problems. The overall theme is to sensitize you to the various economic approaches one can take to collective decision making, the principal ones being new welfare economics, the Chicago School and the Virginia School, although we touch on a little Marxism as well. We will attempt to bring economic theory together with real-world applications whenever possible. The decision-making models we’ll discuss should enable you to become a more discriminating observer, not only of the policy environment, but also of the many social problems that each of us encounters on a daily basis.

    Political economy takes as its starting point the fact that our environment is, fundamentally, a social one. Problems of modeling the individual’s role in group outcomes, free-riding, voting, interest group influence on the state, bureaucratic behavior and constitutional frameworks are a few of the topics that we cover.

     

    HONS EMPIRICAL ANALYSIS of INVESTMENTS & FINANCIAL MARKETS

    This is an introductory course in financial investment management and, as such is designed to give you an understanding of basic investment concepts, methods, and techniques. We hope this serves to introduce you to the wonder of financial markets. Effectively, we aim to explore the relationships between financial markets and the underlying decisions of individuals affecting those markets. We will also look at the role various institutions play in these markets. By the end of the class, you should be able to have a basic understanding of the role of investments and how professionals value and manage them. We also hope you will be a more discerning manager of your own assets. By the end of this course you should have a basic sense of:

    • how micro and macroeconomics affect financial markets.
    • the role business cycles play in financial markets.
    • how financial markets and financial analysts operate.
    • how individual firms are financially positioned within their industries.
    • how firm revenues, earnings, and dividend payments are related to their industry and strategic positions.
    • how company equity valuations depend on actual and projected prospective net earnings.
    • the relationship between bond prices and the general level of interest rates.
    • the theory of efficient construction and management of investment portfolios.
    • how to do basic financial analysis using common tools, such as Excel.
    • how to communicate financial concepts to others in written and oral forms.

    HONS ADVANCED MATHEMATICAL MICROECONOMICS

    The objective of this course is to understand the basic mathematics underlying microeconomic theory. The course includes mathematical derivations of important theoretical concepts. It should give you an understanding of the main results in microeconomics, as well as provide you with the methodology that economic theory uses to study problems related to the behavior of individual agents/decision makers (consumers, business firms, and investors) and their interaction through markets. We will cover consumer and producer theory, general equilibrium analysis, and some game theory. For the non-economics students who have had considerably more math, you should think of this course like an applied math class. You will probably not learn much in the way of new math techniques, but it should give you a good idea of how to apply math in the social sciences.

    Mathematics as a language

    Mathematics is not just a bunch of formulas, nor is it the skill to perform simple mindless computations with numbers. Think about and approach mathematics like you would a foreign language. Mathematics, just as any natural language, has its vocabulary, syntax, and grammar, which you need to master. Thus, the way you express your steps in solving a problem or proving a theorem is extremely crucial and will be carefully examined. One important feature of mathematics as a language often escapes college students: the deep difference between the “active” and “passive” command of a language/mathematics. Just as reading (passive command) is much easier than speaking (active command) in a foreign language, understanding the lectures in class and successfully completing the homework (passive command) is much easier and not the same as being able to solve problems and answer questions on your own under time constrains on a midterm test (active command). You should not confuse these two different levels of knowledge.

    A thorough knowledge of mathematics is indispensable for understanding virtually all advanced economics, including both applied and theoretical fields. Economic concepts and models can often be easily and precisely described in terms of mathematical notation when words and graphs would be ambiguous or even misleading.

    At the successful completion of this subject, students should:

    • Understand advanced microeconomic concepts through the application of calculus.
    • Understand how modern economics characterizes and models individual behavior at an advanced level.
    • Understand how modern economics characterizes the costs facing individuals and firms at an advanced level.
    • Understand how to use an advanced mathematical software program called Maple.

    HONS THEORY OF ENTREPRENEURSHIP

    This course explores key economic and psychological theories, research, and tools for understanding entrepreneurship. We begin with various historical theories of entrepreneurship and move to more recent ones. One of the features of this class is to distinguish between teleological and non-teleological approaches to entrepreneurship.

    It is important to understand this is NOT a class that teaches students how to start or run a business, which is common in “entrepreneurship” classes outside of economics. Rather, it focuses on the role and importance of entrepreneurship in any economy.

    Course Objectives

    • Students will gain a functional understanding of core economic and psychological theories of entrepreneurship.
    • Students will also gain an applied understanding of different tools that can be used to facilitate entrepreneurship

     

    HONS LITERATURE AND ECONOMICS

    Questions of “value” are fair game for everyone from real estate appraisers to moralists, but issues of money and wealth are more often considered the special provenance of economists and financial specialists. In this course, we will consider literary works and films alongside works by economic theorists with the goal of addressing two fundamental questions:

    • What, if anything, might the fields of economics and literature be able to teach us about or contribute to each other?
    • In what ways and with what consequences are economic discussions of value connected with philosophical discussions of
    morality, ethics, and “values”?
    • Do artists and writers necessarily tend towards particular economic views and theories—can art and capitalism ever be friends?
    • Is there any connection between literary narratives and economic ones? Might economists ever be understood as crafters of
    stories?

    Our discussions of individual works will in no way be limited to these questions, but we will use them to orient ourselves as we pursue an in-depth study of the Industrial Revolution in Britain 1750-1850 and some more limited “case studies” in more recent Soviet and U.S. history.