In a world without scarcity, economics as a field of study would be unnecessary. The most challenging task of economics is the study of how to best use resources in the satisfaction of human wants. Today, more than ever, the problems agitating society are predominantly economic. The problems of inequality, discrimination, pollution, energy, growth and stagnation are heavily economic, as are their solutions. Whether as intelligent citizens or as professional economists, we need the perspective and analysis of economics to understand and deal with the realities of life in the 21st century.
With appropriate preparation, particularly in the areas of economic theory, statistical methods and computer-assisted data analysis, the career opportunities for economists are diverse. Economists are most typically employed at all levels of government, in banking and financial institutions, other business firms, labor organizations, and as researchers and teachers in the educational system. One of the most dynamic career areas for economists has been in business. Business economists are typically involved in planning and forecasting, production and market analysis, pricing, and government policy analysis. While various employment opportunities are available to the university graduate with a baccalaureate degree, the person who wishes to pursue a high-powered career as a professional economist should plan to do some graduate study.
The department’s faculty and staff invite questions about the program and career opportunities for economics majors. Interested persons are invited to visit the department office in Parks Hall 315 or to telephone 360-650-3910. Written inquiries should be directed to the Department of Economics, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225-9074. E-mail: Econ@wwu.edu. Website: cbe.wwu.edu/econ.
MATTHEW R. ROELOFS (1997) Chair and Professor. BA, Calvin College; MS, PhD, Purdue University.
REID DORSEY-PALMATEER (2015) Associate Professor. BA, Pomona College; MA, PhD, University of Michigan.
BRANDON DUPONT (2006) Professor. BA, McNeese State University; MA, University of Iowa; PhD, University of Kansas.
YVONNE DURHAM (2000). Professor. BA, University of Wyoming; MA, PhD, University of Arizona.
L. HART HODGES (2000) Associate Professor and Director of the Center for Economic and Business Research. BA, Williams College; MEM, Duke University; PhD, University of Washington.
SHAWN KNABB (2005) Associate Professor. BA, Miami University; MA, PhD, University of California-Santa Barbara.
JOHN KRIEG (2000). Professor and Director of the Office of Institutional Effectiveness. BA, Northwestern University; MA, PhD, University of Oregon.
DARIUS D. MARTIN (2017) Assistant Professor. BS, Syracuse University; MA, PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara.
DAVID M. NELSON (1977) Professor. BA, Whitworth College; MA, PhD, University of Oregon.
JASON A. QUERY (2016) Assistant Professor. BA, BBA, Gonzaga University; MPA, University of Texas-Austin; MS, PhD, University of Oregon.
SHARON SHEWMAKE (2013) Associate Professor. BA, Duke University; PhD, University of California-Davis.
ANCA-IOANA SIRBU (2014) Associate Professor. BS, MS, Bucharest University of Economic Studies; MA, University of Southern California; PhD, University of California-Riverside.
OZAN SULA (2006) Professor. BA, Marmara University; MA, PhD, Claremont Graduate University.
ADAM C. WRIGHT (2016) Associate Professor. BS, University of Richmond; MEd, Arizona State University; MA, PhD, University of California-Santa Barbara.
The mission of the department is to provide students with an understanding of economic concepts and the functioning of the economy, and to equip them with the ability to apply economic analysis in problem solving. The department strives to provide a major program which gives students rigorous training in both economic theory and applications. The department plays an integral role in offering courses that are a component of Western’s General University Requirements and that are part of other undergraduate and graduate programs in the college and in the University. The department views the conduct of research in economics, and applied research in particular, to be an integral part of its instructional mission. In addition, the department strives to serve both the profession and the community and to help raise the level of economic awareness among the public at large.
Completion of the CBE Foundation courses is not required to declare a major in economics, except for the economics-accounting combined major. In order to declare a major in economics, students must have achieved a 2.50 cumulative college GPA (including transfer work). Students planning to major in economics should declare their major as early as possible, preferably during their first year at Western. Early declaration is costless and in no way restricts the student’s options for changing plans later, but it provides many benefits. Advantages include faculty advising, and protection against possible future catalog revisions that change degree requirements. Declared majors are also eligible for departmental scholarships and other awards. Transfer students should contact the department prior to registering to be certain that they enter the course sequence correctly with the appropriate course equivalents from other institutions.
Students with a Western Washington University cumulative GPA average below 2.0 will be dismissed from the economics or economics combined major until the deficiency is repaired.
Other Departmental Information
The economics program at Western provides several options under the Bachelor of Arts degree.
The economics major requires a foundation in economic theory and quantitative skills and provides opportunities for pursuing in depth a number of important areas within economics, most notably financial, environmental, and resource economics.
In addition to the university’s Writing Proficiency requirement, all Economics/Accounting and Financial Economics majors must complete one Communications Focus (CF) course prior to graduation. All other economics majors may take either a Communication Focus – Economics (CF-E) course offered by the Economics Department, or a CF course offered by any other department within the College of Business and Economics. CF and CF-E courses are designed to help students gain proficiency in delivering a professional-quality presentation. Presentations may be done individually or in teams. In the latter case, each student must deliver a portion of the team presentation so that individual assessment is possible. Consult the online Timetable of Classes for the specific course sections that fulfill these requirements.
A combined major is available as an option to students whose educational or professional interests may best be furthered by an integrated curriculum from two disciplines. A combined major may be fulfilled by the completion of requirements stipulated by both the Economics Department and a department with which Economics has established arrangements. A plan of study must be approved by both departments for completion of the major. Combined majors already exist with accounting, environmental studies, mathematics, philosophy and political science, social studies, and finance. Students are encouraged to explore the possibility of combining economics with other disciplines.
Students must consult with an advisor prior to the selection of a major option or the selection of elective credits in other departments of the College of Business and Economics (CBE) to be included as part of the economics major.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate Combined MajorUndergraduate Minor
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400 are described in the University Academic Policies section of this catalog.