ECON 370 International Trade Theory Course Guide

Course Description

The course explores the theory and practice of international trade theory from classical, neoclassical and alternative perspectives. Topics include the determination of trade, the winners and losers in trade, and the role of government and other international institutions in regulating trade. Policy discussions will include contemporary developments in international trade including the North American Trade Agreement, the World Trade Organization and Non-government Organization.

Assessable Learning Objectives

The core learning objectives for the course are listed below. Students will

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of classical views of international trade. Classical theories consist of conditions for and implications of free trade.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the theories of imperfect competition in international trade on both the production and consumption sides. These theories examine the role of economic power and government policy on trade.
  3. Examine the market and non-market solutions to global economic trade problems especially as trade impacts on the 2.5 billion people who live on less than $2 a day.
  4. Apply the theory they have learned to examine the history and current trade relationship between two or more nations with particular attention to the impact of the trade relationship on the poor.

Course Outline

The outline below includes coverage and applications of the core objectives for the course. It is arranged for the most part in the typical order in which course is currently taught. Each topic is discussed along with a critical analysis of the theory. The order can be changed as appropriate to meet the instructor’s objectives, including coverage of additional content.

Week Topic

  1. Introduction to International Trade
  2. Supply and Demand Issues in Trade
  3. Discussion of Current International Topics
  4. Theory of Absolute and Comparative Advantage
  5. Production Possibilities in Trade Models
  6. Critique of the Classical and Neo-Classical Trade Model
  7. Who Gains and Who Loses from Trade
  8. Alternative Theories of Trade
  9. Economic Growth and Trade
  10. Analysis of a Restrictions to Trade
  11. Arguments for and against Trade Restrictions
  12. Trade and the Environment
  13. Group reports; Trade Policies in the Developing World
  14. Group Reports: Multinational Corporations and Trade
  15. Group Reports; Trading Blocs and Coalitions

Recommended Teaching Methodology

The primary method of teaching is guided class discussion based on the homework assigned for the day. Mini-lectures will be used to clarify and amplify complex theoretical material with questions and discussion reserved for the end. The mini-lectures are usually about 20 minutes long. Secondary methods include the discussion of relevant articles, internet reports on current related news, excerpts from audio and video tapes as they shed additional light on international trade relationships. Also, students will make team presentations on bilateral trade relationships.


Recommended Assessment Measures

Regular assessment serves at least four objectives within this course. First, assessment provides feedback to students on their achievement and shortcomings while a course is underway. Second, assessment may provide an incentive for students to actively engage and study course material. Third, assessment is the process by which student evaluation is quantified for purposes of course grades. Finally, assessment provides feedback to the faculty on student achievement of course objectives. Design of assessment measures for the course should satisfy each of these objectives.

  1. The primary method for assessing the attainment of knowledge is expected to be periodic and final exams. Exams must be designed to assess the student’s level of understanding and ability to discuss material, from the text and class discussions, that is directly related to the learning objectives.
  2. Short written assignments, including especially problem sets, will be utilized to achieve and assess the attainment of learning objectives. Criteria for evaluating written assignments should be clearly identified and explained by the professor.
  3. Quizzes may be utilized to ascertain the level of preparation on a regular basis.


Statement of Expectations

Students should expect that the average weekly workload in this course would be three hours in class plus a minimum of six hours of studying and assignment preparation. This is a upper level course addressing the subject of international economic theory. It is one of the electives in the economics major. It is a course offered as part of a menu of courses for both international studies and globalization minors. It can impact careers and the competitiveness of organizations that look to our graduates for contributions. It is not easy material -- economics is inherently difficult, especially in a very competitive environment. Most of the learning that will take place will not happen in the classroom. Students should understand that most learning takes place when they are working on the material outside of class, when they are reading, thinking critically, analyzing, and applying concepts and techniques. The amount that students learn and the level of skill that is developed will be directly related to the amount of effort that is expended. Classes are opportunities to discuss and apply the material, and to develop communication and leadership skills. They are also opportunities for professors to provide insight, to help students attain understanding, and for the evaluation of performance.

Prerequisite Knowledge and Skills

The prerequisite for the course is ECON 101 – Principles of Economics, Micro. Microeconomics studies the laws of supply and demand as well as the behavior of buyers and sellers. Prior exposure to the behavior of economic actors both directly and indirectly effected by the marketTis very helpful. This course will require a challenging mix of analytic, quantitative, and communication skills. Students should be prepared to deal to some degree with the graphs, algebraic concepts, and detailed technical language. Students having concerns about their level of preparation should see their instructor.

Institutional Mechanism for Providing Feedback for Continuous Quality Improvement

Individual professors teaching this course will evaluate each student based on course objectives. Performance assessments will be summarized and reported to the department head or a designate, with separate assessments for relevant learning outcomes. Performance assessments from multiple sections and professors will be compiled into a single comparative report. This report will be utilized for periodic evaluation of ECON 370. The fundamental objective of reviewing student outcomes across course sections is to provide regular feedback for improving instructional effectiveness.