This course aims to introduce graduate students to the “standard” basic methods and topics of microeconomics as taught at the Ph.D. level, while providing a very different teaching approach than is prevalent in introductory doctoral-level microeconomics courses. Typically, much effort is focused on mastering a large technical apparatus consisting of axioms, theorems, propositions, and corresponding proofs, often leaving students longing for an informed and critical understanding of the deeper significance of the methods and results.
In this course, we provide critical exposure to microeconomics as more than a field of applied mathematics. We’ll introduce a domain of unsettled questions and live debates, many fundamental in nature, reflecting the existence of different descriptive and prescriptive views of the world. We make no pretense of providing comprehensive coverage of the standard curriculum, nor indeed of alternative approaches. Rather, we aim for an engaging survey of a wide range of topics, providing students with exposure to some elements of advanced microeconomics for the critical mind. We aim to lay a foundation for graduate students to undertake the related tasks of critique and construction in their subsequent studies and research.
The objectives of the course are for students to become familiar with the core of standard microeconomics as taught in the curricula of most economics programs at the Ph.D. level, and if possible to develop an understanding of these ideas and techniques at a level of sophistication suitable for conducting independent research and for interacting with peers who are economists, all the while gaining a live appreciation of critical perspectives and possible alternatives. The course's central aim, in short, is for students to develop a perspective on the subject that is both informed and independent.