Sebastian Buhai’s Teaching in Economics
I am a keen promoter of research-based teaching, holding the view that both scientific research and (post)university-level teaching are sine qua non ingredients of true academe and highly complementary inputs in efficient academic production processes. The following quote from Wilhelm von Humboldt’s (1810) “On the Internal and External Organization of the Higher Scientific Institutions in Berlin” aptly illustrates this perspective:
“Science cannot be truly lectured on as science without again conceiving of it as self-actuating each time, and it would be incomprehensible if people did not in fact in the process often come upon discoveries. Moreover, university teaching is not such an arduous business that it should be regarded as interruption of the leisure for study rather than an aid to the same.“
At the same time, I firmly believe that modern university-level teaching could and ought to adapt to the preferences and needs of the modern student, inter alia adopting the latest teaching innovations, without compromising on either depth or breadth of messages to be conveyed. To that extent, the next quote by Herbert Simon is pertinent:
“Teaching is not entertainment, but it is unlikely to be successful unless it is entertaining.”
Teaching Background and Interests
I have formal qualifications/ training for higher-education teaching from The Netherlands and France, and I have so far taught various Economics courses in Denmark, Romania and Sweden—at both undergraduate and graduate levels, to both small and very large classes, and in both longer-term and intensive “mini-course” formats.
My main (but not the only!) teaching—and student supervision—interests are, obviously, in accordance with my current main research interests:
- Microeconometrics (Theory, Methodology, Applications; including parts that could be stand-alone courses, e.g., Structural Econometric Modeling, Duration Analysis, Program Evaluation, Statistics in Econometrics, etc.)
- Labor Economics (Micro & Macro; including parts that could also be taught as stand-alone courses, e.g., Personnel Economics, Economics of Education, Specific Labor Markets, Search and Matching in Labor, etc.)
- (Empirical) Industrial Organization
- Economics of Strategy
- (Applied) Microeconomics
In inverse chronological order, with brief descriptions/ further information links for the more recent courses/ lectures:
- “Publishing meaningful scientific research in Economics (and related Social Sciences): A hands-on guidance for PhD students and researchers in Romania”, 23-24 November 2017, 2-day seminar/ mini-course organized by the Babes-Bolyai University (UBB) ’s Institute for Advanced Studies in Science and Technology (STAR-UBB Institute) and its Center for Continuing Education and Distance Learning (CFCIDFR), Cluj-Napoca, Romania; course synopsis (including detailed recommended reading).
- Graduate level mini-course, approx. 40 participants (PhD or postdoc researchers from various sciences, especially, but not exclusively, from Social Sciences and Economics); organized as 2 intensive lectures of 3 hours.
- Aims: hands-on-guidance on how to produce and disseminate what counts as meaningful scientific research in Economics from the current, mainstream, international perspective. While the lectures were primarily targeting scholars and doctoral/ master students in Economic Sciences from Romanian universities and research institutes, anybody interested in Social Sciences more generally could potentially benefit from the pragmatic discussion and tips on academic reading, writing, speaking, publishing, as well as interacting with the wider society.
- “Introduction to Structural Econometric Modeling”, 25 September 2017, invited (2-hour) guest lecture, within the course “Economics Research and Communication”, at Örebro University, Örebro, Sweden
- Undergraduate level lecture, with approx. 35 student participants (some part of the Erasmus exchange)
- Aims and goals: overview of the debate/polemic between structural vs. atheoretical approaches in applied (micro)econometrics; construction/ evaluation of structural econometric models; (very easy) introduction to structural modeling of IO demand systems. See short list of recommended further reading.
“Topics in Empirical Industrial Organization”, 25 July 2017: intensive crash/refresh mini-course, at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, Babes-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania; associated to the ERMAS 2017 conference (conference keynote speakers: Eric Maskin, Ariel Pakes, Aureo de Paula, and Victor Rios-Rull); online mini-course description, including recommended literature (also via https://econ.ubbcluj.ro/ermas2017/en/curs.php)
- Graduate/ continuing-education mini-course, with approx. 35 participants (including Economics PhD students and faculty from various Romanian universities, as well as practitioners from the Competition Council in Romania, etc.); organized as 2 intensive sessions of 3 hours
- Aims and goals: overview of some of the state-of-the-art econometrics tools for analyzing industrial market outcomes; I covered the main methodological issues arising in the estimation of demand systems, the estimation of production functions, and I gave a bird’s-eye view on the empirical analysis of dynamic oligopoly games.
- “Industrial Economics” (co-taught), Fall 2008 + Fall 2009, at Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University; renamed “Advanced Industrial Economics” at Aarhus more recently
- Large master level course, with approx. 250 master students; consisted of 27 formal lectures spread over 7 weeks, with 4 lectures (once 3)/ week (usually organized as 2 consecutive lectures, in each of 2 separate week days), and final 3-hour written exam as course assessment; course credits: 5 ECTS.
- Aims and goals: Students are expected to become familiar with the various models of competition, the determinants of market structure, the conditions that make collusion attractive/ feasible, and the role of competition policy. Inter alia, the course seeks to provide basic tools for understanding differences in the intensity of competition across industries, and its consequences on prices, quantities, quality choice, efficiency, welfare, market structure, and the possibilities of collusion.
- Topics I taught: entry deterrence / accommodation; product differentiation; market concentration/ power; price collusion; demand system estimation; production function estimation; etc.
- “Economics of Strategy” (co-taught), Fall ‘08 + Spring 2010, at the Department of Economics, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University
- Large master level course, with approx. 150 master students; consisted of 27 formal lectures spread over 7 weeks, with 4 (once 3) lectures/ week (usually organized as 2 consecutive lectures in each of 2 separate week days), plus a final 3h written exam as course assessment; course credits: 5 ECTS.
- Aims and goals: Students are expected to understand how a firm can build an organization to achieve strategic goals. Inter alia, this implies studying the boundaries of the firm, the development of newer trends such as outsourcing, offshoring, crowdsourcing, how firms can create incentives to motivate employees to work in their best interest, and how firm structure generally relates to firm strategy.
- Topics I taught: agency, ownership and control; horizontal and vertical boundaries of the firm; incomplete contracts and the property right approach; relational contracts; corporate hierarchy and culture; etc.
- “Descriptive Economics”, Fall 2008 to Spring 2009, Aarhus School of Business, Aarhus University
- Bachelor level course: instruction/ supervision of small groups of students in writing, presenting, and acting as discussants of their colleagues’ term-length individual ‘seminar’ papers. Organized as follows: 2 lectures, plus (optional) meetings with each student during Fall 2008; subsequent presentation/debate sessions (1 student presenter, and 2 “opponents”) of standard lecture time, in Spring 2009 (end March- May); course credits: 5 ECTS.
- Aims and goals: Students are expected to acquire introductory notions of basic Econometrics applied to specific topics within (in my case) “Labor Markets” and respectively “Education”, concretized through their writing/ presenting/ discussing of term-length descriptive empirical papers.