New spring 2021 economics course to focus on crime, terrorism

Rebecca Marcinko
December 08, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Jadrian Wooten, associate teaching professor of economics, has created an economics special topics course for spring 2021 that will challenge students’ beliefs about crime through the exploration of frequently controversial topics. Wooten, associate teaching professor of economics at Penn State, is teaching ECON 397 Economics of Crime this spring.

The course will look at policy-related issues and the "incentive of both criminals and people who don’t commit crimes," said Wooten.

According to Wooten, economics is focused on “behavior and decision-making,” so the course will center around “behavior that is morally objectified.”

“I don’t like saying 'criminals' — part of the thing we talk about in class is that everybody commits crime,” Wooten said. “It’s things as simple as, like, [if] you park in the wrong parking lot to run in and [go to] the Creamery — you’ve committed a crime.”

Wooten said he is a microeconomist who focuses more on the social side of economics. Students in ECON 397 will create data visualizations, read books and articles, and participate in quizzes and discussion boards. Wooten said he developed the course based on his own topics of interest, through trial-and-error finding a balance of subjects to feature in the course and engage students.

“The topics that I like the most are the ones that challenge me — both ethically, but also professionally,” Wooten said. Examples include the death penalty, hate crimes and terrorism, past and present.

Wooten said that understanding that everything costs money in the criminal justice system — like prison or police reform — also is an essential theme of the course.

ECON 397 will be held from 12:20‑1:10 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays via Zoom. According to Woooten, the prerequisite for ECON 397 is ECON 102 and any statistics credit. Students can find the course in LionPATH by searching for course number 5861. Although the course is currently full, students can join the waitlist.

  • Jadrian Wooten headshot

    Jadrian Wooten

    IMAGE: Provided

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated December 14, 2020