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A World of Choice


Economics and World History


Portia Benson and Kim Davis

Program Summary

Essential Question: How can we learn from the past and understand our options for the future in order to more successfully and ethically navigate through a world full of choices? 

A World of Choice encourages students to understand the role of choice—both individual and collective—in our shared human history. What drives individuals and societies to make certain decisions? In this FYE program, we will look both to the past and to the present, to history and to economics, for clues. We will seek to understand the development of particular processes and structures and the way these have impacted the lives of people across time. In Principles of Microeconomics, students will examine the relationship between available resources, choice, and cost. What factors ultimately influence the choices we make and how our resources are allocated? In History of the Globalized World, we will examine the historical forces, events, and worldviews that have interacted and combined to sculpt our current world. How did the choices of individuals and societies drive innovation and change while also generating pathways for some continuity? Ultimately, students in the World of Choice FYE will better understand both the historical and current forces shaping and limiting their choices, reflect on the lives they want to lead as individuals and societies, and begin to develop the capacity to make these futures real.

ECON 203: Principles of Microeconomics (3 SH, GESS) 

One of the main principles of economics is that people face trade-offs. A decision such as spending your evening studying for the big test or spending it watching your favorite show is just one example of a trade-off that you might face. The “cost” of your choice can be measured by what you give up in order to acquire it. In many cases, such as the example above, this cost can’t be measured in terms of money. In microeconomics, costs and benefits are weighed against each other in order to help individuals and societies make choices.  

Understanding how people make decisions, how they interact with one another, and how they respond to economic factors can help us make decisions that promote both efficiency and equality. By the end of this course, you will have developed an economic perspective on a wide variety of topics such as the minimum wage, environmental legislation, social welfare policy, and entrepreneurship. Using examples throughout history, this class will give you a better understanding of how people have responded, and continue to respond, to incentives when making choices, and that both trade and competition are vital in a thriving market. Principles of Microeconomics is the first class in the progression toward either an Economics or Business Administration major and is a component of several other majors and minors such as Sustainability, Environmental Studies, and Sport Studies.

HIST 180: Foundations of the Globalized World (3 SH, GEH) 

Do we truly live in a globalized world? How important are local or national forces in shaping our lives? What explains cultural differences or wealth inequities? How much choice do we really have as individuals to create the lives we want? These are some of the questions you will explore in the History of the Globalized World. You will take a chronological and comparative look at the history of our world from evolution to the present day in order to understand change, continuity, and the forces that pushed us and pulled us toward our current lives. The development of various social, economic, and political institutions and practices will be considered. By the end of the semester, you will have a firm understanding of the major themes and events in human history and be able to apply them when considering the choices you make, where you might be headed next, and how you could (ethically) get there. 

GEN 101 CH: ILC A World of Choice (3 SH)

In this course you will develop, practice, and apply college-level reading, critical thinking, writing, information literacy, and speaking skills while having an opportunity to consider who you are as a learner. As part of the FYE program, this course develops those skills most helpful to finding success as an undergraduate student.