Marxian EconomicsLocation: SW 137 (Graduate School Social Work)
From my secondary school years onward, teaching and learning have been two of my major passions in life. Being a student who always liked to ask questions, and challenge his teachers, in some cases to the extent that I got into problem with some of my school teachers, I keep thinking about how teaching and learning experience at all levels and types of education processes could be improved since I was 11 years old.
In my undergraduate years in Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey, I had my first teaching experience, as a volunteer in a foundation, ILKYAR, which organizes trips to different parts of the Turkey, giving short courses on science to elementary school students, to make students like science and follow a scientific career.
In my PhD years, I had a chance to teach variety of courses, “Introduction to Microeconomics”, “Introduction to Macroeconomics”, “Labor Economics”, “Marxian Economics” to undergraduate students of the University of Utah and “Introduction to Microeconomics”, “Marxian Economics” to the undergraduate students of the Bosphorus University, in Istanbul, Turkey and two small courses, “Why Some Workers Earn More?” and “Preparing the Future Labor Force” on theories and empirical research explaining wage differences and different processes that shapes the workforce of a country, in Sichuan University, in Chengdu China. In Fall 2017 I am teaching my first online course, “International Economics” to undergraduate students of the University of Utah. I also made a presentation to a local branch of CHP, the main opposition party of Turkey, on “Women and the Economy” in 2013, where I talked about different data sources, theories and potential political positions related to women’s role within the economic system.
Teaching is a complex job, where the requirements of the course you teach for and the institution you teach for, the needs and preferences of the students as well as your own thoughts and efforts for improving the learning experience are all important considerations. This complexity may very easily turn a teacher, to someone who copies what an average teacher does, because being innovative, even adaptive may be difficult. For me, however teaching is always a very big responsibility and I think as an instructor it is my responsibility to constantly improve my teaching material and teaching methodology, and always be ready and willing to make necessary modifications, according to the needs and interests of my audience.
In all cases above, I have put as much effort as I can, and thought a lot, in some cases spent sleepless nights to think and work, going through the available teaching material to modify and improve it, looking for potential new teaching material, especially material that explains cases, which may show my students how the theories they learn can be applied to understand and solve real life problems. At the end of each semester I spend considerable time going through my teaching evaluations, and analyze them to find ways to improve my teaching. I also worked with CTLE (Center of Teaching and Learning Excellence) in the University of Utah, invited them to classroom visits and have sought with their advice on potential ways to improve my courses.
One of the problems that came out in early evaluations was for example, the fact that my students mostly needed extra clarification on the course structure. This may become a critical problem since the way I organize the course may be different from typical economics courses in the universities I worked. Based on the feedback I got, I have improved my syllabi, and now explain each element as clearly as possible, and in the first week of the course I make sure my students understand course expectations and structure. I got the encouraging feedback last year on this issue. For example one of my students in the Marxian Economics Course wrote “Kerem was very available and offered feedback freely and when asked. He organized the content well and demonstrated a very thorough understanding of the topic. Overall, Kerem was a very effective instructor and created a great environment for learning.”
As an instructor within economics, I think going beyond the basic knowledge given in the course taught is critical. The traditional way of teaching an economics course, is basically done by going over the theories, without providing much background on how they were developed, how they are relevant and significant at a greater context. In my classes I develop methods to deal with these problems. I provide background knowledge on how theories I discussed are developed. For example in my microeconomics course, I provide primary texts of marginal value analysis, in my macroeconomics class I provide texts from Keynes’s General Theory, and my students can replace any bad grade they have taken from their regular assignments, by reading such primary texts, and writing a summary of those texts. I connect, the topics covered, to practical issues, like student debt, the stagnation Japan experiences since Asian crises, regulations of financial markets. I provide for those topics either an online or an in-class discussion platform where I give to each student that makes a meaningful and sufficiently long comment, full credit to encourage them to be creative. Two encouraging comments I got, on the discussion environment I have provided in my teaching evaluations of Marxian Economics Class are “He was great at playing devil's advocate in the class discussions. He really enjoyed teaching this class.” And “The instructor was a good lecturer and fostered very good classroom discussions. He showed students a great deal of respect and truly pushed students to think critically and speak up.”
As a teacher in general, I believe that my students need to be involved not only as learners of knowledge, but also they need to learn how to use that knowledge, how to form views using that knowledge, explore data and sources by themselves, evaluate those sources, and at least the ones who are willing to do it, should be able to do their own research and present it. The discussions I have mentioned above served that purpose, but I also make my students answer even within the exams of the basic courses, a question, that should be answered with an essay where they need to discuss an issue related to what we have covered. Microeconomics course in Turkey included several assignments for extra points, which make my students to perform certain activities that are part of the research processes in academia, like interviewing minibus drivers to learn how they adjust their supply according to the demand they face, or downloading and analyzing data from a major data sources like World Bank. In Labor Economics and Marxian Economics courses, I have allowed my students to substitute one of their exams with a research paper. In labor economics I also have allowed my students to replace their regular assignment grades with the grade they get from a in-class presentation on a subject related to what we have covered. In Marxian Economics course, the students, who choose to write research paper have the option to submit the outline of their research paper 8 weeks before, and the draft of their paper 2 weeks before the final submission. In case they choose to do it, I read their work, and wrote a detailed feedback to the student. I have also written a detailed document on how to write good essays, literature reviews and research papers, which I provide to my students.
To sum up, being a good learner and teacher, is for me one of the highest achievements, I can have in my life. I am never tired of looking for ways to improve the learning experience of my students, while always making sure the standards of the course and the institution are met, and student satisfaction is assured. I am willing to work hard to achieve those goals and in the end, the satisfaction of my students and the institution I work in, is for me the best reward I can get for my efforts.
International Economics (online)
The course covers history, institutions and theory of international economic relations. You will be presented alternative theories relating to the patterns of international trade, commercial policy, as well as the relationships between national income and international trade and payments, balance-of-payments adjustment, international monetary arrangements, and foreign investment. Prerequisite: ECON 2010 and 2020 (or ECON 1010 and instructor’s consent); Fulfills Quantitative Intensive & International Requirement.
Marxian Economics, is a course that introduces a school within economics. In that sense it is different from courses that focus on a field within economics, like for example a course on labor economics, international finance or development. As a school within the economics, Marxian Economics rather has views, models, theories, in most of the different fields within the economics. Today economics education is dominated by two major schools, which are called neoclassical and NewKeynesian School. Marxian School is a school, on which you cannot get much information, when you study economics. So as a course that introduces you to Marxian Economics, this course covers both the major figure in the school, who is not surprisingly Karl Marx, and the major book within the school, which is not surprisingly The Book Capital, but it also goes beyond that. The course also give some information on early economists who laid the groundwork, which was used by Marx, to form the core ideas of Marxian School. It will introduce you to some of the major critics of Marxian Economics, as well as some major discussions within the school. It introduces you to some major works and theories that were developed by later Marxian Economists, which spread all the way from the late 19th Century to comtemprorary ones. And in some chapters it also introduces interaction of Marxian School with other schools within economics. So as a course it contains much information, on different aspects of economics. In that sense it is different from other upper level course that concentrate on a specific field within the economics.
Even though in some cases, this can be a fact easy to forget, economic system is mainly based on the work done by billions of people every day throughout the world. Whatever are the other factors, creating them, whatever are their positive or negative effects, every economic indicator can exists only as long as this work done by people continue. However the work done by the people is usually taken as a side issue in contemprorary economics. Other issues, like financial parameters like interest rates, or macroeconomic parameters like growth are usually taken as more important parameters, compared with parameters that are directly related the labor. Actually any parameter in economics in the end is related to work done by people one way or the other. In this course we will see first of all how within mainstream economics, what economics mean to most people within and outside of the economics field, labor is treated. We will see basic mainstream models, theories and concepts related to labor. This will be the major thing that will be seen in this course. The course however will provide several opportunities for students who want to go beyond the mainstream theoretic lines. The students will be able to see alternaternative texts, representing both mainstream and non-mainstream theoretical views and several labor market cases. They will also be given the opportunity to make their own research and presentation on a particular case.
This course will introduce you with the major models, concepts and subjects in Macroeconomics. Macroeconomics is one of the two main branches of economy along with microeconomics. While microeconomics is mostly concentrated on specific good markets, macroeconomics usually takes economy of a country and/or sometimes the world as a whole. Macroeconomics usually models the economy a system that consists of three major markets, Goods Market as a whole, Market for Money, also called Financial Market and Labor Markets. In order to measure the performance of and describe the state of these markets, economists use several parameters but for each market one parameter is particularly important, GDP for Goods Market, unemployment rate for Labor Market and inflation rate for Market for Money. Two important subjects that are particularly on the center of macroeconomics are growth and stability, stability has become increasingly more important in the developing countries after 1930’s, as a result it will has a higher weight in this course. Most of the economists try to describe conditions, institutions and/or policies that lead to high growth and/or high stability.
Principles of Microeconomics
Microeconomics is one of the two main sub-branches of economics. While Macroeconomics mostly takes economy of a country or the world as a whole, microeconomics mostly concentrates on individual markets for example market for energy or market for food, within the economy of a nation or the world. This course is on the mostly accepted theory of microeconomics, which is the “Neoclassical Theory” and it cover particular models and theories which are considered as the most fundamental models and theories within the microeconomics. The content of the course can be divided into two parts. First part is based on models that are mostly developed in late 18th and early 19th Century; these models are usually considered as the models that lay foundation of economics as a science. Second part is based on models and theories that are mostly developed in late 19th and early 20th century; these models are considered as models and theories that lay foundation of microeconomics as a sub-branch of economics.