CSU economics course assesses the value of living during pandemic

FORT COLLINS, Colorado – What’s more dangerous: The novel coronavirus or a crippled economy?

In Professor Terry Iverson’s Course at Colorado State University, you can express any opinion you want, as long as you can support it.

“Economists think about tradeoffs all the time, and here the tradeoffs are obvious,” Iverson said in Denver7. “It’s more or less the economic burden of social distancing, which turns out to be quite large, potentially. But offset by the weight of saving lives. It’s very rudimentary, but you have to think carefully about these components to to have a useful discussion about this. “

The “Economy and Covid-19” course is introductory level. Taught by Iverson and a rotating panel of guest speakers, students discuss everything from social distancing and environmental benefits to – in one extreme example – the monetary value of human life. One student suggested lifetime earnings, another suggested adding up the black market value of a person’s organs.

“It really hit me because ‘life is cheap’ right now,” Iverson said.

An added benefit of the course is that a student’s perspective can change based on the news of the day. For example, the advent of a COVID-19 vaccine.

“If you think the vaccine won’t arrive for two years, then the kind of road of suddenly letting go doesn’t look so bad and might actually make sense. But if you think the vaccine is going to happen in six months, that drastically changes the math, “said Iverson.” They (the students) have responded energetically to the opportunities to use real data and see what is really going on. I think there is some distrust of media sources and people seem to want to see the concrete information myself and engage it which may go hand in hand with where we are as a country right now. . “

Fittingly, a course on the discomfort caused by COVID-19 is taught online. Most of the 60+ students leave their cameras off during class. It may seem like the students aren’t engaged, but according to Dayton McGrail, the freshman, it’s one of the few courses that has earned the prize for admission this semester.

“I look forward to the course every day. It is the most interactive experience I have with any of my teachers. I don’t even know what a normal college experience is, but it is. closest I can imagine. In my chemistry class, I don’t think I ever saw my chemistry teacher, ”McGrail said in Denver7 with a smile.

McGrail is finishing her semester at her home in Michigan. Other than a few people in her dorm, she couldn’t meet new people during her first semester at college.

Iverson, who told Denver7 he thought distance learning was “terrible,” said he understands the frustration students feel.

“These are kids whose last year has been canceled. There’s a lot of disappointment. A lot of them think the online experience isn’t worth paying for,” Iverson said.

McGrail could make up for lost time on the road. After a semester of discussing the impact of the pandemic, she plans to extend her stay at university to allow more time for the economy to recover.

“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I still am. I think about medical school to a certain extent. And I’m like, if medical school is happening, maybe I can. delay entering the job market for a while and things will be better in the future. “

“I also thought about becoming an epidemiologist. I think the epidemiology job market will be much better after all of this. I have high hopes, but this is something that concerns me,” she said. .

The course also caught the attention of the New Yorker. Read their article here.