Every Fisher student has experienced that one semester. That semester where every day of the week is spent within the walls of Schoenbaum Hall. That semester when classes begin to blend together and the sheer similarity of the courses leaves a thirst for something new. Sometimes, finding that something is much easier said than done; however, Ohio State is a large university and the sheer number of subjects to minor in or take courses for is virtually endless.
One of the most familiar of these subjects to minor in is economics. All Fisher students take both the introductory macro- and microeconomics courses, but those courses merely scrape the surface of possibilities. After these two introductory courses, Fisher students are ahead of the curve with nearly half of the minor’s credits completed. All that is required for the economics minor beyond those two courses is just one intermediate level course and two elective courses which span a breadth of topics.
Economics is much more than the simple supply and demand curves taught in the introductory classes. Of course, there is no better advocate for this than Dr. Michael Brandl, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Economics. Brandl currently teaches courses in Intermediate Macroeconomics and Money and Banking. This year, Brandl moved to the Economics Department from Fisher where he was an Associate Clinical Professor of Finance.
“My philosophy in teaching is that at the intersection of theory and reality there is the creation of something very enlightening which prompts students to raise questions and think critically of the norm,” Brandl says.
Often students confuse economics to be synonymous with business. While there is often overlap between the two, the key difference with economics is that it inquires into why things are the way they are. Compare this with Finance, for example, where one assumes prices are a given. Stocks, bonds and other prices are assumed to be the price they are and are left at that. In economics, these prices are questioned and critiqued as to why they are the values shown.
“In finance, we often say ‘Here is the model and here’s how to use it,’” Brandl says. “That strays from economics where we ask, ‘Have you considered when this model might not work? Have you considered other explanations as to why these things work the way that they do?’ For some people, this is discomforting, because they only want to know how the model works. Economics will push you beyond this by making you question what you believe.”
As opposed to the standard business curriculum, economics often branches out from the rigidity of “real-world applications.” While this type of learning is successful in producing good workers, it often lacks the ability to produce effective thinkers. There are a multitude of economics courses ranging from history to behavioral studies, and these courses push students beyond the confines of rote memorization. They push the student to think beyond his previously held opinions and beliefs to develop a deeper understanding not only of economics, but the world in which he lives as well. For some, a college education is merely a key to unlock the privilege of working for a company, but for those looking for a little something more, there is no better idea than picking up an economics minor.