Published: September 18, 2015
As yet another day of classes get underway in Brennan Hall, the business building at The University, students begin to file into the classroom to continue their education in a topic that is necessary for everyone in The Kania School of Management: principles of macroeconomics and microeconomics.
Despite economics having the stigma of being a dry and difficult subject, the numerous classrooms in Brennan Hall are nevertheless filled with students as they prepare to enter the business world as proficient members in their respective industries, armed with the necessary knowledge to understand its complex mechanisms.
Despite the overflowing classrooms indicating the subject’s popularity, as any visitor to Brennan would witness, some argue that the inflated attendance is simply due to the requirement that all students in the KSOM must take the courses as part of their Scranton education.
While this does have some merit to it, a quickly growing minority of students is proving that economics is more than just a prerequisite. Visiting one of the classes reveals that many of the students are not even business majors to begin with, which can initially seem confusing as the classes are technically business courses to be taken by business students and do not appear to have value outside of those specific majors. However, with an increasing number of non-business students opting to take the class, it appears as though there is a value gained from learning such principles.
“I think what is starting to catch on is that students in unrelated majors are beginning to see the benefit in these kinds of classes,” explained Charles Daniels, a senior biology major who is currently enrolled in principles of macroeconomics.
Planning to attend medical school after his undergraduate education, he discussed how he came to be in an economics class despite not being a business major. “I had some free credits to use for this semester, so I started looking around for something that I would not have taken otherwise,” said Charles. “Medical school is very selective, so they are always looking for candidates that stand out in unique ways. Taking economics helps me broaden my education since it gives me the opportunity to understand some things from a business perspective.” Charles broadened his discussion to include, not just biology majors, but any major as a whole. “I really think any major could benefit from getting at least a basic idea of how businesses work through these classes. If you think about it, no matter what job you have you will always be working for a business if you don’t own one yourself.” Furthermore, Charles said, there are inherent aspects of any major that can be applied in business courses.
One example could be economics, where psychological principles could be applied as it helps explain the rationality and decision making of individuals and organizations. There is even a whole subsection of economics dedicated to this topic named “behavioral psychology.” Another could be marketing, where those with creative talents can apply them to persuade individuals to spend money. These examples, and many more, demonstrate the useful applicability of business education in the broader scope of academic pursuits.
ChristosPargianas, an economics faculty member and Charles’ professor, was not surprised to see other majors taking an interest in his courses. Citing an increase in interest following the financial crisis of 2008, he explained how more students are starting to take interest in the subject as well as see the value it possesses no matter the background.
“What attracted me to economics in the first place was the wide appeal that it provides by encompassing many different areas of study,” Pargianas remarked. “While our courses are designed more as an introduction to the concepts as an overview, as we get into the more specifics you begin to realize how diverse economics can be.”
Predicting an individual’s behavior, he added, along with his decisions in purchasing and other actions could be considered similar to psychology as you get into the specifics of what exactly drives this behavior.
Additionally, other seemingly unrelated areas can have surprising similarities to economics, such as studying cultural behaviors and customs on consumer habits (similar to anthropology) or governmental laws and policies that make up the economies of the world (which can get into political science as politicians debate how to properly repair economies).
Echoing the opinion Charles had of economics, Pargianas concluded that the study of economics is something everyone should be aware of due to its wide applicability in creating a sense for business. It also helps a person become a more informed citizen who is aware of economic issues and keep sharp with mathematics and other qualitative concepts to be learned.
As the attendance of other majors continues to increase and diversify, more and more students will seek to study core business concepts to supplement their majors.
While it is not clear what the future will hold, it seems as though interest in business classes outside of the KSOM will only increase as time goes on. With the way that the trends are going, it is possible that economics and other business classes may one day be part of the curriculum of other majors and schools as they seek to diversify their student’s backgrounds to give them an edge in the workforce.