Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Internationalization of the Economics Major: A "How To" with Case Studies

Academic journal article Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research

Internationalization of the Economics Major: A "How To" with Case Studies

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

As is the case at most, if not all, Economics Departments, the University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh (UWO) has long had coursework in International Economics. Our course, however, was a single semester course that incorporated both international trade and international finance. This was due primarily to the fact that the University has a College of Business that offers coursework in international and domestic finance, distinct from coursework offered by the department of economics. Having this single course in international area studies served as our only international offering for many years. Even though it was very popular among students, no additional coursework in the area was offered until after the turn of the millennium.

The internationalization of the university in general and our department in specific has taken several different paths. One important change has been in the way we teach even non-'international' courses, along with a proliferation of international classroom offerings, a new International Emphasis within the major itself, faculty led study tours, a partnership with a foreign university, a dramatic increase in the internationalization of faculty experiences, additional international hires, and an ongoing faculty exchange program. Discussion of each of these areas, as well as the phenomenal growth in the popularity of the economics major, follows.

THE UNIVERSITY AND DEPARTMENT

The University of Wisconsin--Oshkosh is a mid sized, comprehensive university located in the upper Midwest. We have approximately 10,000 undergraduates and 2,000 graduate students, organized into four colleges (Letters & Sciences, Business, Nursing, and Education and Human Services). The department of economics is currently housed in the College of Business, which has approximately 1,700 undergraduates, 640 graduate students and 50 faculty members. The department of economics faculty at UWO consists of 10 full time equivalent members, all of whom are either tenured or on tenure track, with an additional course or two of adjunct time per year, depending upon funding and need. Of these ten individuals, we have a good balance by age and gender (four full professors, four associate professors, and two assistant professors comprised of seven males and 3 females). All have PhDs.

There have also been changes in the faculty since 1994. In 1994 we have had six retirements, their replacements bringing in new faculty members with international experience. (1) The internationalization of the major began with these faculty changes and has continued unabated since that time, culminating in the creation of a new emphasis in the major. These changes are further discussed in the following section.

The economics department has grown markedly in the last dozen years. Chart 1 shows this dramatic growth from 19 declared economics majors in the Spring of 1995 to 162 majors in the Fall of 2006. Before 1994, the College of Business required all majors, in any sub-field, to complete the entire economics core sequence, once that requirement was dropped we experienced a reduction in majors. (2)

INTERNATIONALIZATION OF THE FACULTY

The department has long had a strongly international background. Two of our faculty members have formal training in the discipline of International Economics and/or Economic Development, not unlike many faculties of our size. Out of ten faculty members six have extensive international experiences, and three are foreign born. Having foreign born faculty members hardly makes UWO unique, indeed in this we would believe that very many Universities have the same experience. One of those formally trained international economists is from Pakistan, coming to us in 1982 and another is from Belarus, arriving in 2001.

What has set us apart is the development of our international expertise with this faculty composition as our base. …

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