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 human life. 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.

Reaching us

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 wolfe@gustavus.edu, x7469. Clark Ohnesorge is cohnesor@gustavus.edu, x7425. 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 homepage http://www.gac.edu/~wolfe/.


There are three required text for the course:

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 course.

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.

Daily preparation

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: