I've been working on the NBER chapter all this morning - thinking about a lot of things, including the issues raised in this post - and a really interesting course idea came to mind: Economics for Natural Science Majors. I think Economics for Non-Majors courses are fairly common (just as the "for non-majors" courses are common in many disciplines). In economics, usually these sorts of courses draw in public policy, government, and other social science people.
What would be interesting is to teach and economics course tailored to natural science majors. It would do two things:
1. Go over (in a more general way) material on the economics of science: occupational choice, labor market adjustment, compensating differentials, human capital investment, public goods nature of R&D, endogenous growth theory, etc.
2. Go over basic economic concepts as applied to science. You can teach things like the price mechanism and opportunity cost and how they relate to peak oil fears, discounting and thinking about climate change, etc.
At schools with some sort of social science general education requirement I think you could get a real critical mass for a class like this. Does anyone know if such a class exists? I think it would be a blast to teach.
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