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Economics for non-business graduates: Learning online

Samira Sabah | Published: June 26, 2019 21:14:42 | Updated: July 01, 2019 12:51:15


"Economics is everywhere, and understanding economics can help you make better decisions and lead a happier life," claimed American economist Tyler Cowen. Understanding economics is crucial for everyone because it is related to our everyday decision making; from buying necessities to luxury items. Regardless of which sector an individual works in, they contribute to the economy through their work and expenditure. Understanding economics helps consumers make better decisions about their financial investments.

Economics can help investors comprehend the probable consequences of national policy and events on business conditions. Understanding economics can give investors the tools to predict macroeconomic conditions and understand the effects of those predictions on companies, stocks and financial markets. While economics may seem like a subject that promotes the self-interest of firms, it looks at the bigger picture. Adam Smith claimed, "Pursuing selfish goals ended up in improving the greater good." Economics also looks at how the actions of an individual or a firm affect society. A firm producing chemicals may make a profit, simultaneously causing an external cost of pollution. The firm would have to pay the cost of its pollution so that it is incentivised to reduce or stop external costs. Every action has an externality and thereby, understanding economics helps to reduce negative external costs to society. Ben Bernanke, American economist and chairperson of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (2006-14) mentioned, "The ultimate purpose of economics, of course, is to understand and promote the enhancement of well-being."

Many future leaders of Bangladesh are merely students, or graduates from different disciplines such as engineering, pharmacy etc. Some of these youths work on importing products or raw materials from various countries all around the globe. They are vastly affected by changes in exchange rates. Understanding economics can benefit them by helping to recognise the influences of these changes in their businesses and thereby help develop strategies accordingly. The understanding of economics is deep-rooted within every activity that an individual partakes in. To get a better understanding of it, one must delve into some of these branches. With the help of the following online courses, individuals can learn the fundamentals of the subject and in turn, become better decision makers and participate more in the development of the economy.

The Power of Microeconomics: Economic Principles in the Real World (Coursera)

The University of California Irvine (UCI), Division of Continuing Education, offers it. This course has a duration of 13 weeks, one has to spend about two hours a week. It looks into the very fundamentals of Microeconomics- starting with Demand and Supply, going over the competitive markets and ending with a lesson on externalities. There is a quiz every week with flexible deadlines, along with a final examination at the very end for certification. This course also teaches individuals how to implement the principles of microeconomics to a wide variety of real-world situations in both their personal and professional lives.

Fundamentals of Macroeconomics (EdX)

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid (UC3Mx) offers it. This course has a duration of six weeks, two to  three hours per week. It looks into the essentials of Macroeconomics- GDP, inflation, savings, investment, the financial system, etc. This helps individuals understand the importance of fiscal and monetary policies implemented by the government. Moreover, it explains why even the most successful economies experience occasional crises that can affect other economies. The pre-requisites of this course are a clear understanding of mathematics, especially algebra and the ability to read graphs. The course itself is free, but a Verified Certificate can be added for US$ 50.

Economics of Money and Banking (Coursera)

Columbia University offers it. This course has a duration of 13 weeks, one needs to spend about two to three hours a week. There is a quiz every week with flexible deadlines, along with a midterm examination and a final examination at the very end for certification. This course paints a picture of the monetary system as the essential infrastructure of a decentralised market economy. It teaches individuals the importance of the proper functioning of financial systems by explaining how the conceptual apparatus of the money view fits with standard economics view and finance view.

Trade, Immigration and Exchange Rates in a Globalised World (Coursera)

IE Business School offers it. This course has a duration of five weeks, a participant has to spend about two to three hours a week. There is a quiz every week with flexible deadlines. This course explains the contributing factors of globalisation. It also covers how exchange rates are determined, how different exchange rates affect the economy and the reality of currencies. It ensures that individuals understand the workings of economic transactions between different countries of the world.

The courses mentioned above can mostly be enrolled for free and provide certification that can be shared via LinkedIn. These courses can help an individual, regardless of their background; become a more conscious citizen of the global economy.

The writer is a fresh graduate from BRAC University, with a dual major in Economics and Finance. She can be reached at samirasabah127@gmail.com

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