Comparative Economics

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Coles College professor honored for revamping global economics course Long before Michael Patrono…

Georgia (Nov 10, 2011)

Coles College professor honored for revamping global economics course

Long before Michael Patrono went to college and majored in economics, he was well versed on the virtues of capitalism. When he was 13, Patrono read “Atlas Shrugged,” Ayn Rand’s voluminous paean to capitalism. Discussions with his father, who owned a small construction company, afforded Patrono appreciation for the good and the bad of being both a capitalist and a blue-collar worker.

“I grew up seeing both the owner’s and the worker’s sides,” says Patrono, an economics lecturer at the Coles College of Business. “Economic debates that tend to be purely abstract and academic became more concrete in my eyes.”

Patrono’s early immersion into laissez-faire economics led him to a successful career teaching college economics. A professor at KSU since 2001, Patrono was named Professor of the Year by the Georgia Association of Economics & Finance in spring 2011. He was recognized for revamping Economics 1100, a global economics course that most non-business majors take. (In fall 2010, more than 1,000 undergrads took the course).

Originally, Patrono says, the course blended principles of macro and microeconomics, but there was resistance from students because it was too technical for non-business majors. Five years ago, Patrono revised the course and refashioned it into a philosophical, comparative study of different economic systems.

Today, the class delves into the economies of prewar Germany, modern China and the former USSR, among others.  In the course, Patrono goes back to 1917, when Russia turned communist and the cosmic “capitalism versus communism” debate originated. Communism, he says, was an attempt to solve the problems of capitalism, but it failed miserably.

“I want students to have a broad view of what’s possible in economics and to be able to make a reasoned judgment as to which kind of system they would prefer,” says Patrono, who has been teaching economics since 1989. “There are no perfect systems. Even capitalism has inherent flaws. As long as students can give a reasonable explanation of the pros and cons of the two systems, I feel I have done my job.”

 

-- Aixa Pascual


 

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