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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Anthony J Gill
POL S 475
Seattle Campus

Public Choice

Problems and prospects for collective action in a political democracy. Designing rules and institutions for effective central authority and effective constraints on governmental power. Social choice theory and game theory. Recommended: either POL S 270 or POL S 474.

Class description

Whereas "public choice theory" is often seen as a branch of political economy that deals with formal mathematical models, this course will forgo the math and look at the basics of social resource allocation from a more qualitative and philosophical framework. We will read several classics in the field, including works from Adam Smith, F.A. Hayek, James Buchanan, Murray Rothbard, and Ludwig von Mises. The class will have a decidely "classical liberal" flavor to it as we dive into classical liberalism and Austrian-school economics.

The course will heavily emphasize classroom discussion. Each week we will spend about 50-66% of the time discussing insights from the weekly assigned readings and use the remaining time to "solve" a "political economy puzzle" that may or may not be related to the readings. Students who are not active participants in discussion are not encouraged to take this class.

Having successfully completed POL S 270 (Intro to Pol Econ) is also strongly recommended, though not required.

Student learning goals

Participate in lively discussion; hone your skills of logical argumentation in a public forum.

Application of basic economic concepts to solving various economic puzzles.

Develop an appreciation for classic thinkers in political economy.

General method of instruction

Seminar discussion heavily emphasizing student participation.

Recommended preparation

POL S 270 is highly recommended, though not required.

Class assignments and grading

Heavy and dense reading load. Short written assignments designed to stimulate in-class discussion.

Heavy emphasis on class participation.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Anthony J Gill
Date: 10/26/2013