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Patrick Rooney

I believe the most important thing I learned through this semester is that it depends. It seems when we were analyzing graphs and market types, we all wanted definite answers and these equations/models to be applicable to every situation. This class has showed me that nothing is ever as transparent or clear cut as it seems. The outcome is dependent on a plethora of factors, so even though it is easy to do so, we can't make assumptions or single out variables. This term of 'it depends' becomes especially useful in analyzing the information about the US today. It seems there is so much contradictory information and division within America it is hard to stay informed and find the truth behind all the chaos. Using 'it depends', forces me to look deeper into topics to get a fuller understanding, and comprehend the overshadowed complexity of each issue. As a citizen, I will not jump to conclusions, but hold myself to looking into the prevalent issues that plague America. I will do this rather than just buying into a headline I see on the news, and see that there is much more contributing to these issues at hand than what the media reveals.

Ryan Messick

In my opinion, the most important topic this semester was inequality. There is a huge discrepancy in the wealth distribution, where the average American citizen generates a mere fraction of the total wealth. This leaves millions of American families unable to provide much more than necessities, and many more unable to achieve even that. This also puts these families in severe danger in crises like the one we face today, where impoverished families are either unable to provide for themselves or must remain at risk to sustain their family through close-contact work. I also believe that situations like these serve as a solid example of why humans begin to think ‘irrationally’, as people will begin to prioritize differently (say their income over their health or vice versa) than we might assume out of desperation. Using this knowledge, it is important that we begin to dissect the current economic and social systems and target its problems, especially by beginning to invest in public facilities, infrastructure, and other features that will help benefit lower income families.

Warren Seeds

I personally believe that the most important thing I learned this semester was the idea that each economic problem has many different ways to approach it. The phrase "Well, it depends..." was a common saying in our class because there is no one way to do economics. I used to believe that economics was a pretty one-minded study. I thought that everyone agreed that "more money here is good and more money here is bad". However, I soon realized that different people have different beliefs and will never unanimously agree on a solution to a problem. Take, for example, the issue regarding when to start up the economy. Many professional economists, along with myself, agree that the government should wait until the disease is completely under control to re-open the economy; however, when I turn on Fox News there are professional economists saying that the best way to attack this problem is to open the economy as soon as possible in order to avoid irreparable harm. Regardless of political standing, the one thing that economists can agree on is the fact that they will never all agree on something.

Thank you for this semester; this was a very meaningful class, even through zoom, and I am glad I took it with you. Stay safe.

Matthew Todd

I feel that the most important thing I learned this semester was how much discrimination persists in our country. While I was aware of its presence, I was not aware of the extent to which women and minority groups are placed at a disadvantage. In terms of the impact of race, the interactive New York Times article that showed who is "staying wealthy" particularily resonated with me. I wouldn’t have expected such a stark contrast between white and black Americans staying in wealth across generations. This interests me in that I wonder what to do about addressing this. While of course Affirmative Action programs can aid some minorities, the issue with “staying wealthy” idicates bias, which often occurs on the unconcious level. There also is the issue of those who view programs designed to help minorities as an affront to them. As they perceive these advantages as ill gotten gains, and fall into an “us against them mentality”. I’m interested in seeing how this is continuously approached from an economic standpoint. As someone who grew up in a largely homogenous area, being cognizant of my own privelages and mindful of the disadvantages of others can allow me to be more mindful as a voter, and as a future member of the workforce.


I signed up for Econ 100 because I thought I would learn a list of models and definitions that would help me grasp how the economy works. Little did I know how ignorant my expectations were. Instead, Professor Casey introduced real world issues into our discussions and pushed us to critically think about these scenarios. The answer to heavy questions cannot be simplified in an assumption grasped by a supply/demand graph. It simply “just depends.” Every class I left feeling like I had more questions than I started the day with. Specifically, I appreciate the time we spent on talking about inequalities in America. Majority of Econ classes teach basic principles: “public spending is inefficient,” “unregulated markets in the long run are better for the economy,” etc. But in reality there is a whole set of factors that contribute to these theories. For example, most of these ideas are solidified by big businesses that are able to influence the law. What is efficient for big companies is not always what is efficient for the rest of the nation. I think econ classes have a tendency to not dig deep and leave students unaware of the bigger implications of accepting basic principles. But Professor Casey helped me realize that though I am not an economist, as an educated student, I need to look past the models that dominate the law and media and consider every individual community. Who can I vote for that will advocate for disadvantaged individuals? When the news updates us on Unemployment rates, do they also advertise the other factors that contribute? I learned to stop accepting things for what they seem and ask questions that stimulate productive conversations.

Professor Casey, thank you for your drive and passion for this subject. I have never been so engaged in classroom discussions. Though our semester was cut short, I look forward to taking more of your classes!

Savannah Corey

My biggest takeaway from this course definitely came from our discussions about the correlation of Poverty, Inequality, and Distribution of Income and Economics. While I was aware of the major discrepancies in the wealth distribution in America, articles we read like the New York Times piece "America Will Struggle After Coronavirus. These Charts Show Why," revealed the myriad of factors that contribute to structural inequalities and how COVID-19 has amplified them. As economists and politicians propose solutions to mitigate the suffering by the current pandemic, our discussion of tradeoffs, as one of the pillars of macroeconomics, has really stuck with me. Tradeoffs are embedded into every economic and political policy. Oftentimes the economic tradeoffs made by large profit maximizing companies disproportionately effect certain demographics. Professor Casey continuously showed us how to analyze the social impacts associated with economic theories and models. This was definitely the most meaningful part of the course to me and will definitely help me to be a better citizen. I learned that technological advancements, globalization, and education all influence socioeconomic mobility of the lower class, I learned to see which kind of policies would help shrink the wealth gap, and most importantly I learned how to evaluate economic scenarios from different perspectives.

Christina Cavallo

Although I have learned a lot this semester, one thing that has particularly stood out is the concept of “it depends”. Besides having learned that saying these two words will get you half of the answer, I have learned the truth behind it. There is always two sides of the story. When talking about the differences between people - gender, race, socioeconomic status, etc - I think that this phrase is especially important. While one action can create a great benefit for one group of people, it can a cause great misfortune for another. A vivid memory I have from class is when you turned the lights off and then back on. You pointed out that while we were benefitting from the electricity, a child in West Virginia was suffering from a cough because of the coal burning. If someone were to ask you a simple question like: “are lights in a classroom a good thing?” most people would respond with a resounding “yes”. In reality, however, it truly does “depend”. From your class, I have learned that this answer holds true for even the simplest of questions, and I am grateful to have learned this from you. Things are never as simple as they seem to be, and from your class I have learned to try and see the simplest of things from multiple perspectives that may come to multiple conclusions. This also has made me realize how my actions have effects on other people even if its not happening right in front of me - like turning on the lights. I am grateful to have learned things about graphs, models, and economic concepts, but I am especially grateful to have learned lessons that go beyond the textbook from your class. Thank you!

Kit Lombard

The most important thing I learned this semester is that economics is a lot more complicated than it is presented. The graphs utilized are overly simplified to accommodate for the situation at hand. I feel this realization is more important than one individual topic because it has impacted me for the future. Now, when I read articles or watch the news about the economy, I am more aware of the misconceptions that I would have previously fallen for. For example, the common criticism of our debt raising is not the problem, but rather how it compares to the growth of the nation. Also, the articles provided throughout the semester have allowed me to further comprehend the deep, underlying connection between economic well-being and society’s structure. Racism truly influences the lives of people, as I was impacted by the graph showing the drastic difference between a white and black individual retaining their economic class. Both individuals work equally hard, and yet society has been structured to hinder minorities rather than promote them. This semester has allowed me to learn new graphs and economic terms, but I am more grateful for realizing the unacknowledged and sometimes unfair relationship between economics and every individual's life.

Harper Darden

This has been such an amazing semester from our engaging readings to our thoughtful discussions. It is so hard to choose just one biggest take away. I think that the most important idea that I took away from this class is that models are extremely helpful tools, but they are only models. The supply and demand curve is an incredible tool that can be applied to almost any economic situation. Just the other day in class we applied the FED pumping money into the economy to encourage some inflation during the recession to the supply and demand curve. While still upholding basic economic principles, the supply and demand curve simplifies the economy, including products, wages, jobs, and money, into one model to allow us to begin to tackle the beast that is our economy. Without it there would be no Economics. With all that being said, models are not the end all be all. Models do not account for poverty, inequality, systemic discriminations, ethics, or government intervention. Models cannot tell us what to do when our economy is wrecked by COVID-19. They cannot solve environmental issues and inequality. They cannot pass ethical public policy. Models are informative and helpful, but they are not law. This idea goes well with the phrase "it depends," because models can hold variables constant where life cannot, and ignore external forces that life cannot. This course has taught me a balance between models and real life. It has taught me to see and understands patterns, but warns me that patterns are not always the answer. This will help me be an informed voter and a good citizen, because I am prepared to call out the media and politicians for both ignoring models entirely and refusing to look beyond the model's simplicity. This course has truly expanded my critical thinking. Thank you so much for a great semester, both in person and online!

Eleni Filley

The most important thing that I learned in Econ 100 this semester was the concept of opportunity cost. While relatively simple to grasp, I think it is especially important to understand because of its applications to everyday life. Many times when making a decision, whether in business or personal life, we all tend to evaluate what we would be giving up to make one decision or another. The power to understand that there is always an opportunity cost, even if it just time itself, is incredibly useful in comprehending how businesses collectively, and individually, as regular day people, can make a choice. Continuing with that, we got to discuss several times in class that people at times are irrational. In the context of Economics, I think that is a vital idea to understand – that people are not always predictable. In that sense, it has taught me to keep an open mind and to understand that the models are just that – models. We have had thorough discussions about the special case scenarios that I think are vital to remember: oftentimes the answer to an economical question, in Professor Casey’s words, is that “it depends”. It has been a great opportunity to be in a smaller classroom so we have had the time and flexibility to discuss special case topics in more detail. For example, the ability we had to talk through how raising the minimum wage does not necessarily cause unemployment was an eye opening discussion that allowed me to see the power of “it depends”, so to say. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about opportunity costs, the difficulties of predicting people’s choices, and the consideration of special case scenarios. I believe they are all incredibly important concepts from Econ 100 this winter, especially in context with each other. Thank you, Profesor Casey!

Caroline Snyder

I found a lot of topics useful and interesting. I liked learning about the circular-flow diagram, and the difference between microeconomics and macroeconomics. These topics are valuable in knowing the scope of flow of goods and resources; which is valuable as a consumer. I found the diagrams of markets and monopolies very valuable in understanding how certain firms work. I am a better citizen being aware of the government policies we discussed in class also. For example, how we have corrective taxes and negative income taxes. I also really found our classes on labor markets very useful in understanding employment and supply of workers. This is a very important topic to understand given the current events (and how a model could be created with unemployment increasing current). Reading the news I feel like I am able to understand topics easier and feel like a more informed citizen and consumer. Thank you so much for your class!

Philip White

One of my biggest takeaways from the semester is that perfectly competitive markets do not really exist in the world. Before taking this class, I had a very romanticized idea of what the free market looked like and how it functioned. I believed it was a flawless system of supply and demand, producer and consumer, and perfect competition between businesses. However, during our discussions I learned very quickly that the situation is much more complex and not nearly as fair as it is made out to be. For example, the scenario of opening up a coffee shop in Lexington resonated with me. I had never thought about how existing businesses often promote barriers to entry into the market in order to gain a competitive advantage or how business owners sometimes consult each other to manipulate price. Such practices are commonplace, but you would never know it if you read the textbook at 100% face value. The book was helpful to gain a basic understanding of introductory economics, but our in-depth conversations are what took this class to the next level. For instance, the book presented raising the minimum wage as a direct cause of rising unemployment. However, like so many topics in Economics “it depends” on so many other factors. While many of the models and graphs we worked assumed the market was perfectly competitive, they are still very useful because they allow us to isolate variables and study how that affects the economy. That being said, I think it is important to study them in context and remember that they are only models, not a representation of reality. More than anything, this class has made me aware of the differences between what happens in reality and what is generally taught in first year Economics. That realization has already given me a greater understanding of issues that face our society and will help me form intelligent opinions moving forward. Thank you for a great course and stay healthy!

Jack Rawlins

Easily the most impactful thing I learned and will take away from this class is one of the things that doesn't actually have to do with economics. As an engineering major (who was truthfully taking this for the FDR) I came in expecting a decent amount of math. In most of the classes I have taken, I've been almost trained to look for an absolute. Every question had an exact numerical answer, with no room for ambiguity. I was pleasantly surprised when that wasn't the case for this class. Instead, we got rid of right and wrong during our class discussions. The only response that was consistently accepted was "it depends". It is such a great, simple way to get us to always think more broadly and to avoid restricting ourselves to a single train of thought, and can be used far beyond the classroom. The ability to consider multiple factors and outcomes before jumping to a conclusion, and taking the time to analyze each is invaluable. The setup of this class was excellent and it was so easy to stay engaged and interested. Thanks for a great semester Professor!

Matt Gallagher

The most interesting thing I took from Econ 100 is the term that you often say when asked a question, "It depends." What I took from that is that there is not always a certain formula to find an answer in Econ but rather you have to look at all the variables to graph a chart. If one thing changes then the whole graph could be altered. I will carry this with me into the future because if there is a change in something there is usually an effect. This class was everything I thought it would be and more. I am sorry that our semester ended the way it did but thank you for everything Professor Casey!

Emily Symonds

The thing I most took away from this semester was that economics is about a lot more than just numbers. When I entered the class I thought economics was a very exact discipline, one defined by numbers and graphs, things that weren't very susceptible to extraneous factors. I learned very quickly that this isn't the case at all, and by broadening my mind from this misconception I was able to really learn a lot about the world around me. Specifically, I really enjoyed learning about the inequality that exists in our country and how pervasive it is within our own economic model. I also learned the limits of models, however. I initially thought that models translated perfectly into the real world, making economics an exact science, but learning that "it depends" taught me that models can only take you so far. I really enjoyed the theoretical approach we took to economics this semester andI learned a lot about our society and the economy as a result of it. Thank you for a wonderful semester, Professor Casey!

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