Economic Issues and Policy 7e by Jacqueline Murray Brux
This text is intended for a nontechnical, issues-oriented economics course, usually a 100-level course at four-year universities. It is often a general education course. The book is also appro- priate for two-year colleges and other institutions, as well as economic education programs for elementary and secondary teachers. Chapters are designed so that they can be taught in any order after Chapter 1. Each chapter includes references to other chapters that mention similar topics. Some of these references are provided in the “Roadmap” that begins each chapter.
I have over 25 years of experience teaching issues-oriented economics. Usually, my students have not been economics majors, although many have decided to major or minor in economics after taking this course. My goals have always been to make students aware of social issues in the world around them and to facilitate their understanding of these issues and related policy options from an economic perspective. I have always hoped this would inspire students to become involved with the issues in order to make this a better world. Students are often unaware that the important issues of our day, even ones that directly affect them—the environment, our healthcare system, our educational system, crime and drugs, and matters as weighty as war and peace—are rooted in economics. Furthermore, students often set aside as too complex the issues that are recognized as economic, such as unemployment and inflation or trade and budget deficits. They believe that these issues are better left for the experts. Students need to know that all of these issues are indeed relevant to them and within their ability to understand. They need to comprehend these issues to make sound choices and form intelligent opinions. Of course, before students are willing to commit them- selves to the lifelong learning of economics, they first need to be convinced that it is relevant to their lives and that it is interesting!
The discussion of issues in this book is lively, relevant, and current. I have deliberately included and highlighted issues of gender, race, and ethnicity throughout the text, as well as issues that are international in scope. (Diversity issues are highlighted with a “diversity” icon and are more completely discussed in Chapter 5, and international topics are highlighted with a “global” icon and are carefully discussed in the four international chapters, Chapters 10–12 and Chapter 17.) Students are invited to broaden their sensitivity to global and multicultural issues through topics such as migrant farm workers, Colombian coca growers, immigrants to the United States, court rulings on affirmative action, the incidence of hate crimes, and others.
Further, they are offered an understanding of the incredible poverty found in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, not to mention the poverty that takes place in the United States.
Economic theory is used to analyze social and economic issues and the implications of potential policies. The level of technicality is deliberately appropriate for an economic issues course with no prerequisites, unlike some texts that attempt to incorporate all relevant principles and theory into pages better focused on the issues themselves. The text is written in a clear and student-friendly manner. Graphs are straightforward, and normally illustrate only one concept per graph. Except for the appendices, only two basic types of graphs are used throughout the text: production possibilities and demand and supply (and aggregate demand and supply). More technical material and additional examples are frequently placed in appendices.
This text generally presents economic theory in a straightforward, market-oriented frame- work, but the policy discussion is not limited to such a narrow context. Instead, diverse policy perspectives are offered. As a result, the book contains a more liberal orientation than one that would rely on market analysis only. Indeed, the careful presentation of both economic conservative and liberal viewpoints is one of the unique characteristics of this book. Students generally have opin- ions, and they often consider themselves to be either conservative or liberal, but they rarely have the sophistication to understand the economic meaning of these terms and how their viewpoints tie into one or the other general philosophy. The ViewPoint section at the end of each chapter clarifies these notions in terms of the topic at hand, giving students a framework within which to understand their own economic philosophies. Please ask your students to read the ViewPoint sections. Otherwise, as you know, students are inclined to skip the “boxes.” The ViewPoint section of Chapter 1 is especially important, insofar as it introduces students to what it means to be an economic conservative or an economic liberal. It sets the stage for further discussion of this topic in relation to the issues in chapters to come.
“The Economic Toolbox” at the beginning of each chapter lists the key economic concepts addressed in that chapter, providing instructors with a helpful course-planning tool and students with a proven effective pre-reading strategy. Internet exercises are included in the “Discussion and Action Questions” at the end of each chapter to help students learn to use credible Internet sources for data collection and research. The summaries at the end of each chapter, and the glossary and index at the end of the text are also helpful to students. Margin definitions help students understand terminology as they read through the text.
Once our students begin to understand the economic issues around them, the text has the final explicit objective of involving our students in the issues and challenging them to have an impact on our world. This is evidenced throughout the text and especially in the sections, “You, the Student,” and the “Discussion and Action Questions” at the end of each chapter, as well as in the Epilogue entitled “You and the World Around You.”
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