As anyone who has read my previous blog posts knows, I absolutely love UChicago classes. Switching to an online format for my last quarter was definitely disappointing, but I was continually impressed by the creative and helpful ways in which my professors migrated our learning experience online! In this blog post, I’ll outline the classes I took and some of the ways my professors managed to create a UChicago experience from home.
Economic Policy Analysis
Economic Policy Analysis was my final core class for my major, and the one I was most excited about! I will be working in economic policy post-graduation so I knew that this class would supply me with the necessary background and toolkit to succeed. Our course consisted of pre-recorded lectures for half of the regular class time, and then synchronous discussion for the second half of class time! I found this format to be great, as we could all meet and discuss questions we had about the pre-recorded lecture and revisit some of the more complicated topics. My favorite aspect of the class was our policy papers. We were able to write one fiscal and one monetary policy paper on a wide range of topics! In these papers, we took the economic models we learned from class and applied them to real-world policy discussions. We also were able to simulate the policy using our recently developed MATLAB (a mathematical coding software) skills and supplement our analysis with publicly available data. I chose to write my fiscal policy paper on the mortgage interest deduction, which is a tax policy that was recently altered under the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. For my monetary policy paper, I simulated an economy in which the currency was actually edible! I found these papers to be a great way to reinforce topics that we had learned, while also giving us the freedom to creatively explore different aspects of the prompts.
Economic Analysis of Law
I was very excited to finally take a class with Prof. Jim Leitzel, the director of UChicago’s Public Policy undergraduate program. His course was a unique mix of law, public policy, and economics. We were able to examine what it means to craft socially efficient laws under a wide variety of situations. We examined everything from contracts to animal welfare to fanfiction. It was a great mix of pre-recorded lectures and lively class discussions.
The Little Red Schoolhouse
The Little Red Schoolhouse’s official name is “Academic and Professional Writing,” and it is the UChicago Writing Program’s flagship course. It is famous among UChicago students for improving writing skills. I was so excited to take this class, and very impressed by the changes made under the online format. The course consisted of one pre-recorded lecture a week on various topics related to writing: subject choice, information flow, organization, introductions, etc. Each week, we would have a brief writing assignment in which we could write about whatever we wanted in a way that showcased the skills from the pre-recorded lecture. We would then meet in a small group of seven students with our lector and go through each other’s writing, providing constructive comments and highlighting instances in which our peers implemented the skills well! I found that this course definitely helped me grow as a writer. I was writing my senior thesis (my capstone paper within the economics department) concurrently with this class and found that it was very easy for me to transfer the skills and make my thesis even better. I am excited to apply the skills I learned in a professional setting!
All in all, while this was not the final quarter I expected to have, I still experienced the uniquely-UChicago style of learning. With combinations of illuminating class discussions and well-explained pre-recorded lectures, I was able to learn a lot about subjects I am genuinely excited about.