NYU Stern School of Business

Undergraduate College

C80.0001.003: INTRO TO ECON & POL THGT

Fall 2010

Instructor Details

Meyerson, Bruce


By Appointment



Joseph Foudy (Seminar Professor)


Tuesday 3:30 to 5:30

KMEC 7-66


Course Meetings

M, 4:55pm to 6:10pm

Tisch T-LC21

Final Exam:

Schedule exceptions
    Class will not meet on:
    Class will meet on:


Course Description and Learning Goals

Course Description


This course explores political theory with an emphasis on modern political theory and issues of political economy.   The course has three main objectives.  First, students will be introduced to different theories of politics (e.g. how a state should be organized, what is the relationship between ruler/state and governed, how should polities be designed) and theories of political economy (e.g. how do politics and economics interrelate, how do states balance issues of equity and efficiency, what are the benefits and limits of markets, what is the proper role of the state in the economy).  Second, the course has a major writing component and is designed to improve students’ writing abilities.  Third, the course is designed to challenge students intellectually and asks them to analyze and debate ethical and moral issues created by different economic and political choices.  This will help both enhance students’ logical reasoning skills and intellectual development



Teaching Philosophy


1.  The first objective is to teach you many of the fundamental concepts in economic and political thought.


2.  The second objective is to develop students writing ability.  The ability to articulate one’s view is a crucial one and this course has a substantial writing component to help achieve that objective.


3.  A third objective derived from the first two is the ability to encourage critical thinking to aid you in your future careers.  Students are expected to dissect many leading debates of the day.  While exams and papers will feature some issues and readings from class and in the texts, they will also test your ability to explain, defend or criticize theories or concepts.  Business leaders maintain their firms’ positions by applying their analytical reasoning skills to daily as well as strategic challenges.  Political leaders similarly must understand complex, and often just emerging, issues.  They are able to question conventional wisdoms other observers take for granted or apply common sense analysis to otherwise intractable problems.  Even if students may not use all of the specific tools learned in this or other classes they take as part of their Stern education, the critical thinking skills imparted can last a lifetime.



Course Requirements


The course requirements include course papers for the writing component of the course, a midterm and a final.  Additionally, class participation is graded and the course will require your active participation every week. Doing the assigned readings and being prepared to contribute in class will, therefore, be an important part of your grade.  Please also feel free to come to our meetings with questions, comments and topics that will generate interesting discussions. 


As noted, there will also be a series of short papers related to the topics introduced in class. These papers will be reviewed by the teaching instructor and returned to you for rewrites and then grading.  Writing is a craft and improves with practice and feedback.  As such, and as noted, a major course objective will be to improve each student’s ability to write clearly, concisely and persuasively.




Students are expected to have done the readings prior to class. In some cases, class discussions will follow readings closely.  In others, they will not.  The course has a reasonable policy for excused absences for personal circumstances, providing you clear absences with me in advanceOtherwise you are allowed one unexcused absence, after which absences will affect your participation grade.


Course Pre-Requisites

For Business and Political Economy Degree (BPE) students only


Course Outline


Writing Sessions


Course Seminars






Sept. 9


Introduction to the course


Sept. 13

  1. Why the focus on writing?
  2. Overview of Syllabus, Assignments



HW: Read pp. 2-15, 22-40 in Little Brown


Sept. 16


Philosophy of Science, the State of Nature, the Nature of the State


Wolff, Chapters 1, 2 and 3


Game Theory and the State of Nature


Sept. 20

  1. Plagiarism
  2. Research: Beware the Internet
  3. Common grammatical errors and spelling
  4. Little Red Riding Hood
  5. In-class writing: Summarization



Read pp. 42-62, 141-146 in Little Brown;

Summarize one of the articles assigned for Thursday in 200 words;

Submit via e-mail by midnight 9/24;

Bring 2 print outs to class on 9/27


Sept. 23


Democracy, Forms of Governance, Interest Groups


Philippe Schmitter and Terry Lynn Karl, “What Democracy Is… and Is Not,” The Journal of Democracy, Summer 1991

Fareed Zakaria, “The Rise of Illiberal Democracy,” Foreign Affairs, November 1997

Henry Rowen, “When Will the Chinese People by Free,” The Journal of Democracy, Sum2007

Dixit and Nalebuff, Thinking Strategically, Short excerpt on Strategic Voting

Lousis Menand, “The Un-political Animal:  How Political Science Understands Voters,” The New Yorker, August 30, 2004.


Sept. 27

  1. Grammatical Agreement
  2. So what? Forming a hypothesis
  3. Paragraph structure
  4. Peer review of summaries
  5. In-class writing: Comparison/Contrast



Read pp. 69-86 in Little Brown

Compare two of the articles in 250 words

Submit via e-mail by midnight 10/01

Bring 2 print outs to class on 10/04

Sept. 30


Liberty, Property and Equality


Wolff, Chapters 4 and 5




Required Course Materials

Course Readings


1)  Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy, (Oxford:  Oxford University Press)


2)  Todd Buchholz, New Ideas from Dead Economists:  And Introduction to Modern Economic Thought, (New York:  Plume/Penguin Group Press)


3) The Little Brown Essential Handbook (custom text for NYU on writing)


Any additional readings will be available on blackboard.


Assessment Components

Grading Guidelines


            Papers                                                40%

            Midterm                                    20%

Final examination                        30%

            Class participation:                         10%



At NYU Stern we seek to teach challenging courses that allow students to demonstrate their mastery of the subject matter.  In general, students in undergraduate core courses can expect a grading distribution where: 

Note that while the School uses these ranges  as a guide, the actual distribution for this course and your own grade will depend upon how well  you actually perform in this course.



The process of assigning grades is intended to be one of unbiased evaluation. Students are encouraged to respect the integrity and authority of the professor’s grading system and are discouraged from pursuing arbitrary challenges to it.

If you believe an inadvertent error has been made in the grading of an individual assignment or in assessing an overall course grade, a request to have the grade re-evaluated may be submitted. You must submit such requests in writing to me including a brief written statement of why you believe that an error in grading has been made.


Professional Responsibilities For This Course




In-class contribution is a significant part of your grade and an important part of our shared learning experience. Your active participation helps me to evaluate your overall performance.
You can excel in this area if you come to class on time and contribute to the course by:




Classroom Norms


Stern Policies

General Behavior
The School expects that students will conduct themselves with respect and professionalism toward faculty, students, and others present in class and will follow the rules laid down by the instructor for classroom behavior.  Students who fail to do so may be asked to leave the classroom. 


Collaboration on Graded Assignments
Students may not work together on graded assignment unless the instructor gives express permission. 


Course Evaluations
Course evaluations are important to us and to students who come after you.  Please complete them thoughtfully.


Academic Integrity

Integrity is critical to the learning process and to all that we do here at NYU Stern. As members of our community, all students agree to abide by the NYU Stern Student Code of Conduct, which includes a commitment to:

The entire Stern Student Code of Conduct applies to all students enrolled in Stern courses and can be found here:

Undergraduate College: http://www.stern.nyu.edu/uc/codeofconduct
Graduate Programs: http://w4.stern.nyu.edu/studentactivities/involved.cfm?doc_id=102505

To help ensure the integrity of our learning community, prose assignments you submit to Blackboard will be submitted to Turnitin.  Turnitin will compare your submission to a database of prior submissions to Turnitin, current and archived Web pages, periodicals, journals, and publications.  Additionally, your document will become part of the Turnitin database.


Recording of Classes

Your class may be recorded for educational purposes


Students with Disabilities

If you have a qualified disability and will require academic accommodation of any kind during this course, you must notify me at the beginning of the course and provide a letter from the Moses Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD, 998-4980, www.nyu.edu/csd) verifying your registration and outlining the accommodations they recommend.  If you will need to take an exam at the CSD, you must submit a completed Exam Accommodations Form to them at least one week prior to the scheduled exam time to be guaranteed accommodation.


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