82nd International Atlantic Economic Conference

October 13 - 16, 2016 | Washington, USA

Economics in film: A seminar course on the efficiency, morality, and limitations of markets

Friday, October 14, 2016: 2:55 PM
Travis Taylor, Ph.D. , Economics, Christopher Newport University, Newport News, VA
In the last two decades, many academic disciplines have experimented with alternative teaching methods in an effort to improve student learning outcomes and generate interest in the subject matter for both majors and non-majors. Pedagogy in economics has undergone modest, gradual change since 2000.  Technology has lowered the cost of using multimedia to complement traditional chalk-and-talk.  The power of film as a teaching medium is based on scientific research of the brain, which finds that cognitive marking and recall can increase through visual stimulation.  This paper builds on previous literature, particularly Leet and Houser (2003), by updating the list of economic topics and films following the U.S. Great Recession of 2007-2008 and offering techniques to encourage active participation.  Sexton (2006), Mateer and Li (2008), and Mateer and Stephenson (2011) all advocate for the integration of films—to varying degrees but typically as short, illustrative, scene snippets—in general education economics courses.  I document an undergraduate seminar course for introductory students on markets through the (primary) medium of film.  Following a description of the course format and teaching methods employed to enhance student participation, the list of films is paired with their associated concepts.  Additionally, an interactive online discussion technique is described to promote student participation and conserve class time.  The course is designed to complement—but not substitute for—the standard two semester sequence of principles of micro- and macro-economics.  This paper contributes to the existing literature by offering pedagogical and film suggestions to instructors aiming for a balanced overview of markets and contemporary issues such as trade, labor markets, imperfect competition, the 2007-2008 U.S. financial crisis, and globalization.