Collaborative Community Group Project for ECO 202 Microeconomics – Fall 2021
In the microeconomics course that I teach, a majority of the students are business administration, and other non-economics majors. To make economics come alive and spark interest in the discipline, I strive to find ways to draw on the students’ lived experiences and encourage students to apply what they are learning in the course to their everyday life. I teach all my economics courses (Microeconomics, Macroeconomics and the elective courses – labor economics and environmental economics) through a human values, poverty, climate change and sustainability lens. I expose students to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, and assign additional readings besides the textbook readings, use short videos, invite interdisciplinary guest speakers representing different perspectives from a rich economic, social and environmental landscape, take students on off campus/virtual tours and also have students share current news stories every class meeting to experience, question and discuss the inefficiencies and externalities of economic systems and policies that exist and through the process students get an understanding of the basic economic principles and apply them to address business, social and environmental problems.
The modification to my current microeconomics course based on the learning from the Institute is to include a group project with a poverty and humanities focus as one of the learning opportunities for the course. The syllabus is still a work in progress.
Goals of the Assignment:
I plan to incorporate a collaborative community group project as one of the learning opportunities in my Fall 2021 microeconomics synchronous course. This action learning project aims to apply microeconomics principles and take the classroom into the community and bring the community back into the classroom using a poverty, sustainability and humanities lens. The project will have a group component and an individual component. The group component will facilitate and guide participatory, and experiential interdisciplinary learning opportunities and community-oriented research while the individual component will be an opportunity for individual reflection and evaluation of the learning that takes place.
My collaborator for the group component is an alumnus and my former student, who lives in one of the poorest communities in NYC and has started a community-based organization with the objective of working with students to identify community needs and together develop approaches and project plans to meet specific community needs and then incubate small community cooperative social enterprises that will benefit the local community. Students will co-create knowledge about their communities and use story maps to share their learning as their group projects evolve.
- to enhance student learning and knowledge of microeconomics by providing real-world action-learning opportunities
- to strengthen students critical thinking, analytical and communication skills
- to provide an applied poverty and humanities educational experience beyond the classroom
- to give students a research experience and exposure to economics in action in their neighborhoods around NYC
- to bring awareness of social, racial, and environmental injustice and poverty and inequality issues as it relates to communities in NYC
The community needs-based action-learning projects, chosen by the students, will enable them to apply their classroom learning of economic concepts and theories in a real-world setting. Furthermore, this learning opportunity will enhance confidence and develop community leaders as change agents for their communities in NYC.
The objective of the group project:
- Give students an opportunity to collaborate, build community and engage in learning microeconomics by doing
- Apply a different way of thinking and doing economics
- Develop their critical thinking, communication and analytical skills
- Learn about the local community and apply economic theory to model, explain and evaluate solutions to real life economic, social and environmental issues that promote sustainable growth and development
Brief Description of the Group Project:
Students will learn how to work with a database, identify the needs of a community and apply microeconomic principles to create a project plan for a community cooperative/enterprise that promotes social well-being, reduces poverty and inequality and promotes sustainable economic growth and employment with minimum impact on the environment. Based on the community needs assessment, each group will identify a specific economic, social or environmental problem within a specific market or community in NYC, then use microeconomic principles and theories to analyze the problem and develop an economic model that will provide a solution that is financially, socially and environmentally sustainable. Each group will consist of up to 5 students and will work on their projects starting in week 3 or 4 of the semester. At the end of the semester each group will be given 20 minutes to present their project to the class. In addition to the group presentation and group paper, each member of the group will submit an individual reflection paper on their learning from the project as well as will provide an evaluation of each group member’s contribution to the project. Throughout the semester students will engage in classroom discussions, and individual and group economics application and communication exercises to apply the microeconomic concepts and principles learned in the course using a poverty, humanities and sustainability lens.
Here is a sampling of resources. Specific resources will be determined at the time the project is assigned.
Justin Kirk reads “The Commuter’s Lament,” by Norman B. Colp for Gothamist.
Goats and Soda (NPR) – “Oh Dear: Photos Show What Humans Have Done To The Planet”
Documentary: The Corporation
Ruth Lister, Poverty/2nd ed. (Medford, MA: Polity Press, 2021): 14-43.
Kimmerer, Robin Wall. “The Serviceberry: An Economy of Abundance,” Emergence Magazine, Dec. 10, 2020. https://emergencemagazine.org/essay/the-serviceberry/
(Part 1) Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World Food System by Raj Patel
Introduction to Donut Economics:
Shin, J., Chatterjee, D., Krampner, J., & Virgin, V. (2020). Annual Report from the Office of the Mayor – Poverty Measure – NYC Opportunity.
Uneven Growth NYC
Interference Archive Exhibition (2019). Everybody’s Got a Right to Live: The Poor People’s Campaign 1968 & Now
Museum of the City of New York: New York at its Core Exhibition.