NDL-204: Money (J-term 2004)
In this course, we'll investigate all aspects of money. We'll draw on
diverse fields such as politics, economics, mathematics, psychology,
sociology, philosophy and art, as we investigate why money has value,
and how it influences society. Along the way, we'll question why the
Secret Service regularly confiscates works drawn by artist J.S.G. Boggs
without bringing legal charges; how an IRA really differs from a
Roth-IRA; why you can make many good wagers and yet almost always lose
money; and when it is ethical to estimate the monetary value of a
Students who enroll should be curious, articulate, numerate and eager.
Students will be actively engaged in classroom debates,
investigations, and presentations. Grading Option: Pass/Fail.
You can reach us via phone or e-mail, and both of us are likely to be
in our office most mornings. David Wolfe is at firstname.lastname@example.org, x7469. Clark Ohnesorge is
If our office door is open you are welcome; if we're busy, we'll set
up an appointment.
All course handouts as well as some supplementary materials will be
available at the course web page. A link to for this course is in my
There are three required text for the course:
- Goodwin, Greenback: The Almighty Dollar and the Invention of America
- Weschler, Boggs: A Comedy of Values
- Phil Bronson, Bombardiers
Reason for pass/fail grading and general course expectations
The course is more experimental in nature than a regular semester
course. Although we may require a few papers (or tests) in order to
insure that you, as students, gain a basic level of understanding, the
focus will be on broad discussions. The goal is for us to experiment
with new ideas and to think creatively. We encourage you to explore
ideas and solutions that are difficult to prove, and realize that this
type of creative thinking often happens best when you not worried
about saying the right thing to get a certain grade.
There are high expectations for the entire class in terms of
participation and class preparation. It is assumed that you will
complete all of the assignments on time and participate in class on a
regular basis. A student with more than 2 unexcused absences, or
who fails to prepare daily assignments for 2 class periods, or who
submits any tardy assignments is in danger of failing. A student who
fails to complete a more major assignment can expect to fail the
Assuming you have attended regularly and come prepared, your goal in
the course is to accumulate enough of the class currency to
pass the course. We will issue two forms of class currency, one in
exchange for class contributions (presentations, insightful comments,
etc.) and one for individual scholarship (reading summaries, research
papers, essays, etc.) You need to be in possession of enough of each
currency at the end of the course in order to pass. In particular, it
is not sufficient to simply submit the required assignments.
On a typical day, all students will complete a reading assignment
and will reflect on the significance and implications of the
assignment. Be sure to leave time for this reflection, for we view
that time as more valuable than the reading material itself.
Once you have completed the reading, you will typically submit an index
card with the following information:
- Draft a short single paragraph summary of the lead reading
assignment assigned for the day.
- Draft three questions or issues for discussion based on the
- One discussion topic should directly addresses a point from the reading.
- One discussion topic should connect the reading to some issue
relevant to the course, but which did not appear in the reading.
- One discussion question should require research or investigation