Acadia Senior College

Course offerings

Improving Decision Making and Public Policy: Lessons from Behavioral Economics

Sheila Kirby

Online via Zoom
Why do we sometimes fail to act in our own best interests? Traditional economic models of decision making assume that people make decisions in a “rational” manner. These models work well – until they don’t. This course provides an introduction to a relatively new field – Behavioral Economics – that draws on the fields of economics, psychology, sociology, and neuroscience, to provide a better explanation of what influences the choices we make. Governments and companies all over the world are now using behavioral insights to design and improve their policies (often called “nudging”). This class will examine these efforts – successes, lessons learned, and ethical issues. There is no math prerequisite.
About the instructor

Sheila Nataraj Kirby (PhD, Economics) was a senior economist at RAND, a nonprofit think tank, for over 30 years and served as a Senior Fellow at NORC at the University of Chicago from 2012 to 2017. Her two primary research fields were education and defense, and she has published extensively in both areas. Sheila held a joint appointment as an adjunct professor of economics and public policy at The George Washington University where she taught economics, statistics, and public policy at the graduate level for 25 years. She volunteers with the League of Women Voters of Maine, the Southwest Harbor Public Library, and the Acadia Senior College. This is her second offering of this course for ASC.

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