John Casey Nicolarsen

Undergraduate Discipline

Economics

BA, Creighton University. MA, PhD, University of Missouri-Kansas City. General interests include: economic theory; history of economic thought; political ecology; the nature, origins, and functioning of money and monetary production economies; law and economics; economic modeling; economic philosophy; methodological issues and the process of generating economic theories; and, heterodox economics (e.g., “original”/“radical” institutional, Marxian, post-Keynesian, feminist, and ecological economics). Recent interests and research gravitates toward issues of wage policy (income and wealth distribution); public finance, including flows and services between federal and state governments; fiscal and monetary policy; legal frameworks, their evolution, and the interrelations of law and economics; price systems and pricing strategies; the conceptualization and interaction between economies and ecological dimensions; the intersection and theoretical foundations among money, value theory, and accounting systems; and alternative provisioning arrangements and the production of novel qualitative measurement indicators. Determined to help reorient and reinvigorate the social science of economics as a truly interdisciplinary and theoretically pluralist endeavor for achieving better social outcomes. Author of “Value, Money, and Accounting for Pax Ecologica: Contouring a Price-Coordination System for Ecological-Economic Provisioning” (Dissertation. April, 2017). Research scholar at the Binzagr Institute for Sustainable Prosperity. SLC, 2017-

Undergraduate Courses 2018-2019

Economics

Resource Economics and Political Ecology

Open , Seminar—Fall

Humankind’s ability to radically shape, alter, degrade, and threaten the Earth’s system(s) is strongly evidenced. From stratigraphic (geological) markers to plastic and electronic waste to climate change, nonrenewable resource depletion, and soil, water, and air spoliation, the consequences of human activity-induced (anthropogenic) provisioning are well-known, unceasing, and, it appears, accumulating and intensifying. Given the impact and interaction between humankind and the natural environment, far less certainty exists as to how to conceptualize, give narrative to, and address the complex, evolving, and continuous influence between humankind and its environment. As for the discipline of economics, significant tensions exist as to what tools, methods, vision, qualitative and quantitative measurement indicators, and theoretical foundations are appropriate and best-suited for voicing, revealing, stewarding, and redressing existing and future ecological challenges. Along with established and significant topics such as sustainability, externalities, pollution, regulation, global governance, benefit-cost analysis, taxation and subsidy, property rights and the commons, technology, competition and markets, biophysical realities, planetary boundaries, ecosystem services, consumption, and environmental ethics, this semester-long seminar will: 1) investigate distinct and alternative methodological, analytical, and theoretical tools of various schools of economic thought and their approaches to environmental concerns (e.g., mainstream neoclassical, ecological economics, post-Keynesian, Marxian, feminist/ecofeminist, institutionalist, behavioral); 2) examine and stress issues of environmental, racial, and intergenerational justice; unequal ecological exchange; trade and development; labor and ecological arbitrage; legal, political, and public policy dimensions; monetary considerations, accounting; value theory and social costs; 3) consider topics such as deep, shallow, social, industrial, urban, and dark ecology; thermodynamics; and novel ecosystems; 4) analyze and apply evaluative tools, methodologies, and practices, including interdisciplinarity, theoretical pluralism, systems thinking, critical ethnography, critical realism, neoliberalism, ultrasociality, cultural ecosystem services, and indigenous and postcolonial ontologies and epistemologies; and 5) critically explore, appraise, envision, and theorize as to existing and alternative provisioning possibilities and theses such as green capitalism, ecosocialism, degrowth (décroissance), metabolic rift analysis, capitalocene, anthropocene, and subsistence and sufficiency perspectives. Conference production (work) will look to situate students (economists) as keen and discerning interdisciplinary social scientists and will consist of research projects where a broad range of formats or mediums will be accepted in offering the opportunity to examine a topic of personal interest concerning the complex and evolving interaction between humankind’s economic system(s) and the Earth’s system(s).

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Related Disciplines

Introduction to Economic Theory and Policy

Open , Seminar—Year

Economics has a profound impact on all of our lives—from where we live and go to school to what we do for a living, how we dress, and how we entertain ourselves. Economics is also crucially intertwined with the social and political issues that we care about—from global warming to poverty and discrimination. This yearlong course introduces a variety of approaches to economics—including neoclassical, Keynesian, behavioralist, Marxian, and feminist—and encourages students, in their conference work, to apply these contrasting perspectives to current economic issues. We conclude with an exploration of the causes and consequences of the 2008 financial/economic crisis and its implications for public regulatory policy.

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Related Disciplines

Previous Courses

All Tomorrow’s Divinities: History of Economic Thought as Postulate and Rhetoric

Open , Seminar—Spring

Where do the foundational tools, questions, analytical constructs, and scope of economic analysis originate? To what extent are existing economic ideologies based upon theories and assumptions found in economic doctrines from centuries ago? Are the debates from classical political economy of the 17th-19th centuries still of material relevance today? Has more recent economic thought improved upon earlier efforts? Under what conditions is it warranted and appropriate to draw from the past for informing tomorrow’s economic policies, especially given the reality of evolving historical, societal, legal, cultural, ecological, and political dimensions? The scientific revolution of the 16th-17th centuries contributed to the displacement of certain institutions in divining and setting forth moral, social, and scientific facts. Consequently, emerging disciplines looked to fill the void and posit knowledge claims and societal visions. The contention here is that political economy (now “economics”) has been and continues to function as a persuasive and authoritative discipline in articulating societal visions and “facts.” Indeed, the desire to control and direct economic belief compels numerous actors—e.g., governments, politicians, news organizations, think tanks, business enterprises, legal and scientific bodies—to sponsor, produce, develop, and/or fabricate economic knowledge claims for purposes of divining and administering social policies. This semester-long open seminar will focus primarily on the tradition of Western economic thought beginning with classical political economy in roughly the 17th century running up through today. It will therefore, essentially, take as given certain issues, principles, and entry points for examination; e.g., wealth, production, distribution, class, value, exchange, markets, morality, and price. Additionally, the seminar will critically investigate the following: 1) the nature, context, and history of economic ideas; 2) the history of economic thought as an intellectual history; 3) certain structures of thought such as utilitarianism, liberalism, classical liberalism, neoliberalism; 4) questions as to ideology, authority, and religious dimensions; 5) the dawn of the debates regarding competing modes of production (e.g., mercantilism, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, communism, anarchism); 6) topics central to economic philosophy, including social ontology, epistemology, abstraction, and methodology; 7) theories of value, distribution, rent, wages, prices, taxation, accumulation, the origination of profits, property, and population; 8) productive vs. unproductive labor, technological advancement, and innovation; 9) national income accounting, the rise of nation-states, trade, protectionism, and markets; 10) growth, development/underdevelopment, imperialism, colonialism; and 11) locate and trace the intellectual heritage through the history of economic thought up through the most recent formulations (e.g., Marxian, Post Keynesian, Feminist, Ecological, Institutional, Neoclassical, Austrian, and Behavioral Economics). Furthermore, this seminar will look to positively apply insights established to examine the following questions: With the continued demise of cultural and social myths surrounding class, race, gender, sexual orientation, age, biology, ability, identity, etc., can ideas from the history of economic thought be augmented to advance economic policies based upon these issues? To what degree can the history of economic thought be informative for undertaking interdisciplinary work in fields such as anthropology, sociology, and psychology? And finally, by appraising and looking to extend and apply principles from classical political economy, are we necessarily merely spreading limited Eurocentric/Western values, ideas, and possibilities for economic visions? Investigating the work of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, Thorstein Veblen, and others demands critical reflection, interpretation, and application. Therefore, seminar assignments will primarily consist of short papers. Seminar participation will be stressed. Conference work will look to further situate students (political economists) as keen and discerning interdisciplinary social scientists. Research projects of a broad range of formats or mediums will be accepted in encouraging students to divine and generate new theoretical insights with compelling analytical, conceptual, narrative, and rhetorical flourish while exploring a topic of personal interest.

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Intermediate Microeconomics: Reality, Methodology, Theory, and Policy

Intermediate , Seminar—Year

What assumptions, tools, methods, practices, narratives, values, vision, and theoretical foundations do microeconomists incorporate and rely upon for analyzing economic behavior at the individual level? What insights, knowledge, inferences, and/or conclusions can be gleaned through examining characteristics of individual firms, agents, households, and markets? Arguably, microeconomics now comprises an extensive and growing field of research and, due to the potential for aggregating microeconomic data and analysis, suggests explicit and far-reaching societal implications and consequences for macroeconomic-oriented analysis and policy. Among other topics, this semester-long seminar in intermediate microeconomics will offer an inquiry into economic decision-making vis-à-vis: theories of demand, the individual (agents), households, consumption (consumer choice); theories of production and costs; theories of the firm (business enterprise, corporations); theories of markets and competition; prices and pricing theory; public policy and legal foundations; political dimensions and repercussions; theories of value; and distributional outcomes (e.g., effects due to differences in race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation). Critical analysis, reflection, and insight into these and other topics will be supported and strengthened by appealing to a broad range of traditions in economics, including neoclassical (orthodox, mainstream, marginalist), and post-Keynesian, feminist, Marxian, and institutionalist (heterodox schools of thought). Conference work will look to situate students (microeconomists) as keen and discerning interdisciplinary social scientists and will consist of research projects encouraging students to generate new knowledge and theoretical insights concerning real-world microeconomic phenomena of particular interest to them.

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