Monthly Archives: June 2008

The Economics of Majoring in Economics


Economics.

And you thought Bachelor of Arts students sucked at math.

Well, how about NO THEY DON’T! NOT THE ECONOMICS ONES!
 

 

OK, let’s have a look at this discipline in a rational, analytical way.

Just the way an economist might do it.

This is a practical, common-sense, “let’s talk about the real world” kind of discipline. It’s been described as the study of humankind in “the ordinary business of life”. It’s also defined as “the study of how to use scarce resources to best satisfy unlimited wants.”

Economic principles help answer questions by making clear the costs and benefits of alternatives and knowing how to weigh those costs and benefits to make a good decision.

What types of questions might an economist be able to answer?

Some pretty controversial ones, by the looks of it:

·         When the government has a surplus, should it pay off its debt or lower tax rates?

·         Why do professional athletes and entertainers have such high incomes?

·         How would Canada’s economy be affected if we comply with the Kyoto Accord?

Or how about this one: “Will the price of gas ever go down?

In fact, a great perk to majoring in economics is that when people begin to spout off their opinions on these topics, because pretty much EVERYONE has some opinion on these types of topics, you can have an EDUCATED opinion to respond with.

And that’s the best kind of opinion to have.

As an economics major, you will take classes in microeconomics – principles of consumption, production, exchange under different competitive conditions, applied to contemporary problems in the Canadian economy, like the structure of agriculture, foreign ownership, and pollution. You will also learn about macroeconomics – involving national income determination, monetary/banking systems, and the study of contemporary problems like unemployment, inflation, economic growth, business cycles, and the international economy.

You may also take classes in natural gas markets, the global trading system, money and banking, the economic analysis of law, public finance, the economics of health, the environment, transportation and/or agriculture,  mathematical economics, game theory and strategic thinking, international trade, experimental economics, and behavioural economics.

These are just a few examples. There are many more, varied types of classes you can take as an economics student.

A B.A. in economics is a four-year degree. You can also combine a degree in commerce or management with an economics degree at some universities.

If you’re interested in economics, and getting started on your degree here at RDC, visit www.rdc.ab.ca/humss, call (403) 342.3304 or email ba@rdc.ab.ca for more information.

 

 

 

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Talking Up Communications Studies


Communicator Extraordinaire is a skill absolutely everyone should strive to be able to put on their resume.

Ask an expert in the job market. They will tell you that the most employable skill a person can have is the ability to communicate well.

Teachers need to be able to communicate to their students. Doctors need to communicate with their patients, with specialists, with pharmacists, with nurses. Marketers need to be able to communicate with consumers. Writers and filmmakers and artists need to be able to communicate with their audiences. Even if you’re working in a trade, say construction, being able to communicate well is extremely important for safety, and could end up saving your life or somebody else’s.

Pretty much every occupation requires you to have a good grasp on how to communicate verbally, in writing, or in any other medium you might use that allows you to send and receive messages.

In fact, what life does not require the ability to communicate reasonably well? You need to be able to communicate with yourself, friends, family, co-workers, clients – everyone you are in contact with on a daily basis. Communicating is a fundamental process that affects virtually everyone’s life at almost every second of the day. Not even exaggerating, here – just communicating the straight facts.

Dip your toe into the field of Communications Studies to learn how to understand and speak the language of business, listen well, and read and make use of written materials – all pretty much the most important skills to have when you enter the workforce. Communications Studies classes, such as Fundamentals of Workplace Communication, Business and Workplace Writing, Human Services Writing, and Writing Skills for the Fine Arts can help students in any field get better at what they do by learning to communicate effectively.

You can take your study of communication further. If you’re specifically looking to enter the workforce with a career like newspaper reporter, TV journalist, public relations specialist, manager, motivational speaker, editor, or dispute negotiator then a Communications Studies background will serve you very well. If studying communication for its own sake is what really interests you, declaring a Communications Studies major will allow you to do just that.

You’ll take classes like Introduction to Visual Culture, where you will be introduced to the concepts of visual literacy, how to evaluate visual media and how visual images shape culture.  You’ll learn about Topics in Rhetoric and Discourse in relation to the social, political and philosophical climate. Public Relations classes will teach you about the role of public relations among business, government, educational and cultural organizations, including ethical standards in public relations. You could also learn about the History of Communication and Mass Communication in Canada.

Know how to speak? Know how to write? Know how to read?

There. You’ve got some of the fundamentals already.

So go for it – declare a Communications Studies Major! If you want more information about the Communications Studies program at Red Deer College, visit www.rdc.ab.ca/humss, email ba@rdc.ab.ca or call (403) 342-3303.

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Anthropology Prerequisite – A Sense of Adventure


Anthropology.

It just sounds cool.

OK, maybe “cool” isn’t the best word to use when describing an academic discipline that involves classes like “Introduction to Anthropological Statistics” or “Current Issues in Anthropological Methodology”. I can concede that.

But you’ve got to admit, “anthropology” does have a certain ring to it, conjuring up mental images of primates in the wild, strange and wonderful artifacts, mysterious rituals, and the sound of distant drums. You can just see yourself doing a field study, living with an ancient tribe along the Amazon or walking towards a group of gorillas through the mist. Or dusting off relics in a field camp somewhere much hotter than where you live now.

Who knows? Maybe you could even end up treasure-hunting, Indiana Jones-style.

Here’s the real definition of anthropology:
Anthropology is the study of humankind and its culture in the past, present and future.

And in reality, anthropology involves a lot more than drums and gorillas – everything from archaeology (human cultures in the past, that is) to cultural anthropology (modern cultures) to linguistics (language, it’s history & development) and phsyical anthropology (primatology, evolution, paleoanthropology, and forensic science).

If you are fascinated by all things related to humankind (including primates!) and their culture, whether it’s ancient culture, present culture, or the way the world is headed, anthropology may well be the major of choice for you.

Once you take the plunge and declare an anthropology major, here are the types of classes you might be in for (these are taken from the University of Calgary calendar, so aren’t typical of every program. But an idea):

Interested in how humans interact in the present day businessworld? Take a class like Business in Cultural Context – find out ways in which differences in cultural values and practices affect the form and nature of interaction between business parties, especially those of differing national/cultural/ethnic backgrounds.

Of course, some businesspeople tend to engage in ape-like behaviours from time to time, but if you want to get a real idea of primate behaviour and to feel a little Jane Goodall vibePrimate Behaviour is the class you want, covering things like primate social dynamics, dominance, aggression, kinship, sexual behaviour, learning, communication, ape language and conservation.  

Ethnographic Survey classes will take you through studies of different societies in different parts of the world. These classes also cover some social anthropological fieldwork studies – meaning, studies by an anthropologist who lived traditionally among that society, recording everything he or she observed. Very cool job.

Classes can cover topics as varied as political anthropology, anthropology of gender, medical anthropology, urban anthropology, the anthropology of law, political anthropology, anthropological perspectives on religion, evolutionary anthropology, ecology of tropical forest societies, ritual and cultural performance and so on.

Some pretty interesting stuff, you have to admit. If you want a strong blend between science and humanity, if you are fascinated by how other people think, act, and live, and if you want to know why culture and societies are the way they are, then you’re in luck. You can study anthropology.

Word to the wise: A sense of adventure will help!

For more information on the anthropology department at Red Deer College, visit http://www.rdc.ab.ca/humss/disciplines/anthropology/

 

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