Seminar Description

This seminar is the first semester in a year-long course for economics undergraduate thesis students. An undergraduate thesis has long been a signal of academic excellence and achievement in a major field of study. The creation and execution of a project of one’s own design is often the most rewarding experience of an undergraduate career. The project immerses the student in sustained intellectual activity, encourages depth of inquiry, and develops research, writing, and presentation skills. Our year-long sequence is designed to support the student through this process. As such, it requires the student to work in close consultation with the instructor and with other members of the seminar. Through these interactions, the student is engaged in an intellectual community focused on the creation of economic research.

Economics 495 is open only to students selected for the Economics Distinction Program. It offers Distinction students the opportunity to design an original economics research project within a supportive and challenging academic environment. Throughout the semester we will engage in a variety of exercises and assignments focused on the preparation of a detailed project prospectus and the commencement of project research activities. Seminar participants will present their own evolving ideas, constructively comment on the ideas of other participants, learn about research tools on campus and beyond, and struggle with the ideals of research integrity and research quality.

ECN 495 is followed by a Spring course, ECN 496: Economics Undergraduate Thesis Seminar II. The Spring seminar is truly student-centered research, as thesis writers present their ongoing research, constructively engage the work of other honors students, and work in close cooperation with a faculty mentor to complete their research. The ECN 495/496 course sequence culminates in the completion of the Thesis Project and, for those who also maintain a minimum 3.4 cumulative grade point average, graduation with Distinction in Economics. 

Course Requirements

This seminar is designed to meet the needs of Economics thesis writers as they proceed through the thesis planning stage to the execution of those plans. As such, our course schedule is fluid and participants will need to pay close attention to the class schedule. Our course website has a class schedule that will be updated regularly. Students should refer to the website if there is a doubt about any day’s activities and readings.

Seminar participants are required to attend all sessions and to participate actively in seminar discussions. A participant must notify the instructor IN ADVANCE if he or she must miss a seminar session for unavoidable reasons. The instructor can always be contacted by email or telephone. Unexcused seminar absences will result in a lower course grade.

                Grading Element                                                    Share of Final Grade
                Seminar Assignments and Exercises                               50%                   
                Project Prospectus                                                                    25%                   
                Seminar Participation                                                              25%                   

As always, students will be held to the highest standards of academic honesty: For thesis writers, academic honesty issues go beyond the familiar prohibition against cheating on exams and assignments. We will discuss the proper treatment of the words and ideas of others, citation methods, and how to incorporate previous research into our own work while giving credit to the creators of this work.

In compliance with section 504 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, Syracuse University is committed to full participation by students with disabilities. If you feel that you need academic accommodations due to a disability, you should immediately register with the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at 804 University Ave., Room 309, 443-4498 or 443-1371 (TDD only). ODS is the Syracuse University office that authorizes special accommodations for students with disabilities.

Required Materials

We will be reading material from Economics scholarly journals, work in progress, and work by each other. These materials are freely available through the library website or from each other. Accordingly, seminar participants will need access to an Acrobat reader, either on a personal computer or at a campus cluster. Each participant also needs access to PowerPoint, again either on a personal computer or at a campus cluster. We will discuss access to other software as we progress. Participants may be required to buy specialized research tools, such as a manual of style, once we take an inventory of resources students already own.