Dr. Vlad Tarko, Economics

Building a Senior Seminar about Sustainable Economic Development

Course Syllabi

I decided to participate in the Valley and Ridge program in May for two main reasons. On one hand, I was planning to update my "Institutions and Development" economics class with a bigger focus on sustainability, and including much more material related to Elinor Ostrom's work. On the other hand, and related, I was interested in seeing what people from other disciplines think about the topic of sustainability. I had previously taught a First Year Seminar on development economics, and a Senior Seminar on comparative institutions. My plan was to build on the experience with these two previous classes and produce a Senior Seminar on sustainable economic development. Having just published the intellectual biography of Elinor Ostrom and the Bloomigton School, I was also keen on including much more material about how communities create institutions that help them overcome tragedies of the commons, rather than focusing just on large-scale country-level statistical analyses.

My experience at the Valley and Ridge program was great. I was expecting it to be interesting, but I was still pleasantly surprised. Lindsey Lyons and Neil Leary have managed to bring together a very diverse group of people from across disciplines. I found the group interactions quite helpful and it was interesting to see how our perspectives were much more often complementary rather than contradictory. The road trips we took were also excellent. Considering my specific interests, I particularly enjoyed our nature walk at the Florence Jones Reineman Wildlife Sanctuary, and professor Gene Wingert's discussion of forest sustainability. I plan to include a similar road trip in my class as it fits perfectly with Elinor Ostrom's account of the complexities of forest management. I'm hoping this will help students get a more concrete picture of sustainability problems, beyond our otherwise theoretical discussions. I also enjoyed the visit to the Dickinson College Organic Farm and learning more about how community-supported agriculture works in Carlisle.