The central missions of the Department of Economics are to provide high-quality instruction at both the undergraduate and graduate levels; conduct research that creates new knowledge and disseminate it across the state and nation, enhancing the scholarly reputation of the department and the university; provide service to the university, profession, and community; and promote the university's policy on diversity. By achieving these objectives, the department contributes importantly to the ability of the university to meet its missions.
The department promotes student learning at all levels of instruction and for students of all disciplines. Faculty keep their courses current, engage students actively, and use technology to foster student learning.
Most undergraduate instruction consists of course work required of other departments and colleges. Many units require principles of economics of their majors, and some units (including the College of Business) require upper-division economics courses. The Department of Economics monitors the needs of other units and reallocates resources to meet these needs. This year, in response to growing enrollment pressures, the department added sections of principles of economics and intermediate theory. The department also restructured the economics course required for the MBA degree in response to the changing focus of that program. The department teaches 18 hours of required course work for doctoral students in the Department of Agricultural Economics.
The department also offers an undergraduate degree in economics. Course work for majors is designed to provide students with an understanding of economic theory and its applications, the technical skills necessary for work as an economist, and the communication skills required for successful employment or graduate education. The curriculum is continually updated to meet the needs and interests of students and to prepare them for employment or further education.
At the graduate level, the department offers both M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in economics. The department offers solid training in theory and econometrics and has carved out a niche with its emphasis on applied and policy-oriented fields. Students are prepared for careers in teaching, business, government, and research institutions.
Faculty research expands the frontiers of knowledge and also provides valuable information for the state (for the governor, legislature, and such agencies as Kansas Department of Transportation, Social and Rehabilitation Services, Department of Revenue, and Department of Commerce and Housing). Faculty share their discoveries by publishing their research in highly acclaimed books and leading economics journals and at major national and international conferences. Faculty research findings are further disseminated through articles and interviews in such national publications as The Christian Science Monitor, Journal of Commerce, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and Business Week, as well as on the BBC Radio.
In addition, faculty bring their research expertise into the classroom to provide students state-of-the-art knowledge. Faculty guide students on research projects, develop student research skills, and sometimes allow students to work with faculty models or data sets and jointly publish research findings. Faculty grants provide students employment opportunities as research assistants.
Because of their expertise, faculty have been contacted for their advice and opinions by such agencies as the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform, the Federal Trade Commission, the United Nations, and the Planning Board of the National Academy of Sciences. At the state level, faculty have served on the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, the Governor's Commission on a Public Agenda for Kansas, the Governor's Tax Equity Task Force, the Kansas Committee on the Assessment-Sales Ratio Study, and the working group that advises the governor on railroad mergers. They have advised the Kansas Corporation Commission on the design of a price-cap regulation plan for Kansas, served on state economic policy committees, and testified before legislative committees on issues relevant to the formation of economic policy. They have assessed the state's welfare system, its highway system, tax policy, etc.
Faculty have served as presidents of national and regional professional societies, editors and associate editors of professional journals, and members of editorial boards. They referee for leading journals and funding agencies and are active at professional conferences.
Faculty serve the university by helping to coordinate the all-university career fair, selecting students for national honoraries, and advising student clubs. They serve on numerous university committees, participate in mock interviews to prepare students for national scholarship competition, serve in Faculty Senate (including a stint as President of the Faculty Senate) and on the Graduate Council, operate as team leader for General Education Senior Interviews, and so on.
Examples of community service include media interviews, articles in area papers, speeches before public groups, participation in civic and political organizations, and provision and interpretation of economic data as requested by individuals and organizations.
The department recognizes the importance of diversity and tries to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for all individuals. Economics students come from diverse cultures and, at the graduate level, from more than a dozen countries, creating an international community. Four of the department's faculty are minorities, and others have worked overseas.
Although women are under-represented on the faculty, the department is working hard to address this situation. Over the past five years, the department has disproportionately interviewed female candidates at professional meetings, disproportionately invited female candidates for campus visits, and made a disproportionate number of job offers to females.