As part of its tradition of excellence in education, the economics department offers an undergraduate departmental honors option for qualifying economics majors. The Economics Honors Program is operated in conjunction with the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Program. In their senior year, economics honors candidates participate in a two-course research methods seminar sequence. Through the sequence and with the help of a primary economics advisor, economics honors students develop and implement an original economics research project. Upon completion of the project, students write a thesis summarizing their research contributions and orally defend their research in front of a three-member examining committee. The examining committee consists of two economics faculty and one outside (of economics) faculty member from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Based on the quality of the thesis, quality of the oral defense, and the student's overall academic record, the examining committee makes an honors recommendation to the College of Arts and Sciences Honors Council. The Honors Council then considers the examining committee's recommendation in the context of honors candidates from across the college and makes a final decision. The possibilities include no honors, cum laude, magna cum laude, or the highest, summa cum laude.
Economics Honors Graduates from Fall 2003 and Spring 2004:
Brent Berc (magna cum laude)
Travis Berge (summa cum laude)
John Bernard (magna cum laude)
Jennifer Burnham (summa cum laude)
Keith Cackowsky (summa cum laude)
John Gardner (summa cum laude)
Heather Guttersohn (magna cum laude)
Noah Hirsch (magna cum laude)
Kathryn Landuyt (summa cum laude)
Natalie Lyon (summa cum laude)
Ian McCulley (magna cum laude)
Chris Ramos (magna cum laude)
Kelley Roberts (magna cum laude)
Morgan Sall (summa cum laude)
Chad Salvadore (summa cum laude)
Drew Soderborg (summa cum laude)
David Trace (magna cum laude)
Dan Vedra (magna cum laude)
From the fall of 2000 through the spring of 2004, I served as co-director of the Economics Honors Program. Serving as co-director was a wonderful experience that provided me insights into how students learn, create, execute their work, interact with their peers, and interact with their advisors and examination committee members. Our Economics Honors Program is both selective and optional, resulting in the self-selection of some of the brightest and most highly-motivated students on campus. Honors students are afforded the opportunity to apply the skills they have acquired as economics majors to a research topic of their choosing. In contrast to our graduate students, who often write almost exclusively for the economics profession, our undergraduate honors students have the audacity to study just about any topic that interests them. The results are consistently spectacular. Over the years I have seen truly interesting and engaging thesis topics, this past academic year being no exception. A few of this year's topics include: weekend versus weekday price discrimination to alleviate congestion on public golf courses; the matching market for rock musicians; market demand for NCAA football tickets on eBay; the potential of Europe's black market to explain Euro dollar weakness from 1999-2000; the relationship between European commodity prices and the removal of trade barriers; the economic feasibility and effectiveness of proposed social security reforms; and academic performance of scholarship student athletes. In terms of interesting thesis titles, my personal favorite for the past academic year was John Gardner's thesis, "Won't You Be My Neighborhood? Comparing Conventional and Alternative Indices of Residential Segregation."
Honors graduates frequently comment that the honors process is one of the capstone events of their undergraduate education. Honors students develop strong lifelong bonds with fellow students and faculty that would not likely have developed if not for their year in this intellectual boot camp. Similarly as a faculty member, I readily admit that working with honors students is one of my most pleasurable experiences as an educator at the University of Colorado. These students are among the best of the best and it is a treat to watch them mature through the honors process and then go onto many other successes in life.
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