Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Economics majors have new home; department moves

September 21, 2001

The Department of Economics has a new address.

And students who wish to pursue their degree in the subject can take a new route.

The department, which was formerly part of the Eli Broad College of Business, is now part of the College of Social Science.

Charles Ballard, an economics professor, has been instrumental in “hammering the nuts and bolts out of the new curriculum.”

“In terms of the curriculum, it changes things a little bit,” he said. “For example, we don’t have entry requirements anymore. The College of Business has hurdles students have to jump over in order to be able to be a major.”

Unlike the business college, the College of Social Science does not have additional requirements to the university’s set academic standards, Ballard said.

“A lot of people who want to get into the College (of Business) are not able to, and that is not true in Social Science,” he said. “We are likely to have more majors.”

While economic majors can still choose to take a business cognate to their major, Ballard said students can also choose cognates that have been non-traditional of economic majors in the past - including philosophy or political science.

Marietta Baba, dean of the College of Social Science, said she recognizes the excitement of the new department and the possibilities to come from collaboration within the college.

“Economics is the core of understanding social phenomena,” she said.

Rowena Pecchenino, chairwoman of the Department of Economics, said it is difficult to determine what the change will mean in the long run - but in the meantime, she anticipates more students majoring in economics.

“This change opens us up to a new clientele,” she said.

“We expect to see an increase in majors because of more flexibility within the program.”

Pecchenino said the suggestion to switch colleges did not come from within the department - it came from MSU Provost Lou Anna Simon.

“The Department of Economics over time has been, and continues to be, one of the stellar academic programs at Michigan State,” Simon said. “What I was trying to do was raise the question about sustaining this excellence for the next 20 years.

Simon said she hopes the switch will increase the number of majors.

“Relative to the size of undergraduate students, the number of economic majors is small even though there are a large number of students in introductory classes,” she said. “We did work to compare us to other universities and our numbers are smaller than one would predict.”

One student has given the switch some thought.

“I think this has good and bad sides to it,” said Doug Smith, an economics senior who will graduate from the College of Business.

“The College of Social Science students will be more well-rounded and will have to take less business classes - but I am pretty sure the College of Business is rated higher nationally.

“In all, I am glad to be part of the Broad College of Business.”

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