Courses at Charles University
Not long after its inception, economics been dubbed the "dismal science". Did it happen deservedly? The seminar in applied economic reasoning introduces the basic concepts and tools used by modern economics for the purpose of discussing important social issues. Based on compulsory readings, we seek answers to a whole range of questions without which it is impossible to understand the functioning of modern society: How does money work? What is economic growth? What role do markets play in our society? When is it necessary for the government to help solve economic problems? Why are some people poor and others rich?
How closely do real people approximate a perfectly rational and completely selfish agent known as "homo economicus"? Extensive research in the behavioral sciences shows that our choices, beliefs, and desires deviate from this idealization in significant ways. The aim of the course is to explain what neoclassical economists mean by rationality, and--through a systematic criticism and refinement of this concept--to introduce behavioral economics. The course analyzes why ir/rationality is important from a scientific point of view as well as from a normative point of view, i.e., it deals with how people behave and how they should behave. The discussion also pertains to the current topics such as belief in conspiracy theories, the problem of procrastination, or the risk of irrationality for democratic decision-making.
For a long time, the economic paradigm was dominated by models whose core assumption was that of rationality. However, various findings from cognitive and social psychology suggest that people are often prone to systematic errors, and have unexpected beliefs and preferences. How are the real people different from homo economicus? What heuristics do we rely upon in our reasoning and how may these heuristics lead us astray? How can irrationality be exploited in the markets and in politics? Should the government intervene to protect people from their own irrational choices? In the Economics and Psychology seminar, we try to find answers to these questions as well as to many others. The seminar concentrates on how the psychological findings may enhance our reasoning about economic affairs and on their implications for applied policy. The core parts of our effort in the seminar are home-assigned readings and classroom discussion.
All developed economies are possess a sizable public sector that provides a range of basic goods and services, redistributes income and regulates the activities of private entities. The course focuses on the reasons for its existence, the analysis of the mechanisms of its functioning and the nature of collective decision-making. It also discusses the extent to which the use of public sector economics can contribute to the finding solutions to pressing social problems, such as the rise of authoritarian populism or the threat of climate change.
In the context of the Great Recession of 2008, voices criticizing the approach of modern economics as dogmatic, disconnected from reality, and based on hidden value judgments gained prominence. Are these accusations justified? The course focuses on an examination of the economic approach to the study of social reality, its assumtions, and its alternatives. It uses mainly conceptual tools of the philosophy of science, but it also touches on ethics and applied policy. The purpose of the seminar discussions is a critical understanding of how modern social sciences work and what problems they face when trying to generate knowledge of social reality.
Is strategic thinking confined to battlefield? Or is it an important part of our everyday lives? The seminar in strategic interaction and decision-making shows the omnipresence of strategic deliberation. The students get acquainted with an approach known in economics as well as other social sciences as "game theory". Its isights allow us to consider the behavior of rational agents like firms, political parties and (at least sometimes) also ourselves from a new angle.
Courses at Prague University of Economics and Business
The course trains the students in the basic of economic reasoning. It familiarizes them with basic knowledge of economic science on which they will build the subsequent study of macroeconomics, microeconomics, economic policy and other applied economic disciplines.
The aim of the course is economic interpretation of the nature of the public sector with emphasis on the issues of efficiency and distributive justice.
An intermediate course in theoretical microeconomics that is focused on the analysis of consumer and producer choice both in markets for goods and services and in markets for the factors of production.
The aim of the course is application of the economic theory to political processes and collective decision-making. The course concentrates on the public choice theory and develops the models of politics as exchange among rational, self-interested agents.
The course adresses some of the fundamental questions of political philosophy using the tools of modern economics. At the same time, it uses philosophical reflection to highlight the nature and limitations of these tools. The course focuses primarily on democratic theory (utilizing themes from social choice, public choice, and behavioral public choice), relationship between economic theory and applied policy, and economic methodology.