COOL CLASSES: “Junior Research Seminar: The Federal Reserve”

This economics course covers the history of monetary policy and central banking before and after the creation of the Fed, as well as current debates in monetary policy.

Class name: “Junior Research Seminar: The Federal Reserve”
Taught by: Assistant Professor of Economics Carola Binder

Here’s what Binder has to say about her course:
My class covers the history of monetary policy and central banking before and after the creation of the Federal Reserve. We study how and why the Fed was created, how it has evolved over its first century of existence, and the role of central banks in economic and financial crises. We also discuss the future of the Fed and current debates in monetary policy. Broader themes of the course include institutions and institutional evolution, power and accountability, and credibility and trust.

I hope that students will learn to use primary source material and the narrative record to study economic history and to evaluate the effectiveness of economic policies and programs. I would also like them to gain awareness of current issues in U.S. and international monetary policy, to prepare for the possibility of writing a senior thesis on monetary policy or economic history, and to improve their writing skills.

I created this course because of my own research interests. I have published many papers about the Federal Reserve and monetary policy, and have spoken at think tanks and central banks around the world on these topics. I also know that a lot of Haverford economics students hope to go into policy or finance, and I think it is essential for them to understand the historical and political context behind so much of macroeconomic policymaking.

The course is unusual in focusing on both historical and current issues. The readings draw from theoretical and empirical academic literature and both recent and historical speeches and news articles. I also teach several writing lessons throughout the semester, and really try to help students improve their writing style and precision. The students give two presentations. This year, I am trying out a new final project in which students will design their own communications campaign for a central bank.


See what other courses the Department of Economics is offering this semester.

Cool Classes is a recurring series on the Haverblog that highlights interesting, unusual, and unique courses that enrich the Haverford College experience. 

Photo: Binder (second from left) brought a previous cohort of this class to meet former Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke (far left) at the Brookings Institute.