What is Economics?
Economics is the study of scarcity and its implications for the use of resources, production of goods and services, growth of production and welfare over time, and a great variety of other issues of vital concern to society. The central quest of economics is to determine the most effective use of resources to meet private and social goals. Production and employment, investment and savings, health, fertility, money and the banking system, government policies on taxation and spending, international trade, industrial organization and regulation, urbanization, environmental issues, and legal matters, such as the design and enforcement of property rights, are but a sampling of the concerns at the heart of the science of economics.
Economics can also be used in one’s personal life. Personal resources are scarce too. One can always use another dollar, hour of time, or skill. Achieving the most satisfactory allocation of one’s resources is a crucial life-skill. Studying allocation problems improves one’s ability to make daily decisions, as well as the occasional larger one. For example, should one pay cash, borrow, or sign a lease contract to get that car? Should one take out a home-equity loan to obtain funds to invest in the stock market? Should one open a 401K plan now or wait a year? Economists understand how to make these decisions.
Economics is Not Just for Economists
Economics is a social science that overlaps with many fields, including political science, geography, mathematics, sociology, psychology, engineering, law, medicine, and business studies. Several introductory courses are offered that students in other fields will find interesting. Examples are ECO 209 Introduction to Urban Economics, ECO 208 Introduction to Environmental Economics, and ECO 211 Introduction to Health Economics. ECO 181 Introduction to Macroeconomics and ECO 182 Introduction to Microeconomics are designed for anyone to find useful. Any 300- and 400-level course can be taken by any students who meet the prerequisites of that course. Many students in other fields study economics to be able to use economic analytical methods to complement their knowledge.
Undergraduate Mission Statement
The mission of the undergraduate program in Economics is to prepare students for entry-level jobs in a variety of organizations, or continued graduate or professional education by providing high quality instruction in three core economics courses and a large number of electives in various subfields of economics.
Department Student Learning Outcomes
Students majoring in economics will learn and apply the methods of economics in depth. They will become familiar with the discipline, the role economics plays in relation to other areas of study, and the impact economics has on decisions and policy making. At the end of their academic program, all Economics students should:
- Have a basic understanding of macroeconomics and microeconomics that will enable them to succeed in both academic and professional post-undergraduate pursuits.
- Be able to analyze current economic issues employing argumentation, written communication, mathematical models, and graphical analysis.
- Present information in quantitative formats that are clear and move the argument forward.
- Recognize, define, and analyze the constraints associated with resources and identify both cost and the benefits of particular “solutions” to social, economic, and political problems.
- Evaluate the feasibility of the success of a particular social strategy based upon the underlying economic realities.
Office: 435 Fronczak
Spring 2014 Advising Hours:
Jan 27th through Feb 7th: Mon, Wed -10:30am – 12:30pm; Fri – 1:00pm – 3:00pm
Feb 10th through end of semester: Mon, Wed, Fri: 1:00pm – 3:00pm or by appointment
To set up an appointment, email Xiaohui Ma and
write “advisement request” in the subject line.
Phone: (716) 645-8682
Dr. Zhiqiang Liu
Office: 445 Fronczak
Spring 2014 Office Hours:
Tue, Thu: 1:00pm – 2:00pm or by appointment
To set up an appointment, email
Dr. Liu and write “advisement request” in the subject line.
Phone: (716) 645-8688
415 Fronczak Hall
Phone: (716) 645-8670