Economics motivates consumer behavior based on preferences, relative prices,
and time and money constraints. Economics motivates the role for
government based on market failure. Obesity has been deemed a critical
public health problem. This course explores how consumer choices
lead to individuals being different weights and discusses whether there
is an economic rationale for government intervention in the markets most
closely related to food and activity choices.
Define the concept of consumer sovereignty
Describe how consumers are thought to make choices based on a combination
of preferences, relatively prices, and time and money constraints
Describe economic motivations for government action in markets
Consider arguments regarding the appropriateness of a government role
in markets that are related to obesity in adults and children
Week 1: Learn some background information about economics, and learn
about the epidemiology of obesity and about direct and indirect costs;
andtake a quiz to assess what you have learned; introduce yourself to the
class; and begin to have discussions using economic terminology on the
Week 2: Learn about both economic and
non-economic influences on obesity; take a quiz to assess what
you have learned; and begin to apply economic logic to potential policies
to change consumer behaviors
Week 3: Learn about the limits of consumer sovereignty, how
economists motivate government policies, and what some economists
think about policies that have already been tried; take a quiz to assess
what you have learned; and write a basic policy analysis
Week 4: Complete the final quiz, assess the written work of your
peers; and continue to discuss how incentives, information, and constraints
affect individuals' choices of food and activity levels and result in individuals
being widely varying weights
MOOCs stand for Massive Open Online Courses. These arefree online courses from universities around the world (eg. StanfordHarvardMIT) offered to anyone with an internet connection.
How do I register?
To register for a course, click on "Go to Class" button on the course page. This will take you to the providers website where you can register for the course.
How do these MOOCs or free online courses work?
MOOCs are designed for an online audience, teaching primarily through short (5-20 min.) pre recorded video lectures, that you watch on weekly schedule when convenient for you. They also have student discussion forums, homework/assignments, and online quizzes or exams.
I loved and still love the idea of this class, as this is a major current issue for society and the course should offer a valuable perspective. I imagine the longer 7-week version is more in line with what I expected when I signed up. The 4-week version was too short, not leaving the professor enough time to explain concepts fully or to give chances to cement learning through assignments or readings. Also, it seemed that the quizzes and final assignment were not fully congruent with lecture content, as if assessment items were borrowed from the longer class not tailor-made for this one. Also, the question wording was too often confusing, so that the intention of the question was unclear. Still, all in all, there is value in the information given, though the frustration level with the logistics may be too high a price for some!
Good concept, but not well executed. The content didn't fully meet the course objectives. The class was actually 3 weeks of content, and not very well integrated. Very little of the actual content was assessed. Four (actually three) weeks of content did not seem adequate even as a basic introduction. Many in the class had no background in economics, while others had degrees and advanced degrees in economics, making for an unbalanced level of expectation. Technical glitches caused ongoing frustration, and the peer evaluation assignment was laden with problems. The class had several hundred enrollees, which pretty much guaranteed that there was little opportunity for interaction with the instructor, or other students, for that matter. Otherwise, the concepts were interesting, and this could be a solid course with a few needed tweaks.
While there were some interesting points and I learned a little bit about economics and the some of the questions to ask if considering whether or not a certain policy might impact people in the community's weight, the class was all over the place. There was not economic explanation and background for me. (I have no economic background and the course said it was not necessary.) The technical glitches were major and distracting. The written assignment used vague questions and then expected very specific answers. I'm not a mind reader, so I didn't know what he expected. It only allowed 75 words per answer and that wasn't enough to answer some of the questions in full.
I had some economic background from many years ago and found it informative and thought provoking .Given that obesity is starting to be of significant public interest it was good to learn about some clear economic arguments about different interventions. It would have worked better if the basic economic slides were integrated in the video presentations . Also found the quizzes thought provoking - in helping me think through some issues
The best things I learned were from the book that was recommended, and that the course was based upon. The lectures were mostly bits and pieces from the book. The theory presented was basic economic theory with no discussion about how you would ever construct the curves (e.g. demand curve for snacks).
This has received quite a bit of negative reaction from those who have taken the course, mainly for the presupposition of a decent level of economics knowledge before starting. Nonetheless, the course did give a good overview of how policy might effect obesity. Not a great course, but not bad either.