Michael C. Seeborg

Emeritus Robert S. Eckley Distinguished Professor of Economics

Personal profile


My primary teaching objective is to help students develop critical thinking skills through active learning. My classes, especially upper division classes, are generally not taught in a lecture format, but emphasize active learning through small group work, class discussion, papers, and problem sets. I’ve found that students who are actively involved in the learning process are more likely to share the passion that I have about economics. They do this as they discover for themselves how economics gives insights into both everyday decisions that people routinely make as well as the decisions of policy makers about poverty, unemployment, pollution inflation, and other major social problems.
Economics students develop a set of useful proficiencies as they advance from lower level economics courses through senior level courses when they are actively involved in the learning process. These skills consist of the basic proficiencies of accessing existing knowledge, displaying a command of existing knowledge, and interpreting existing knowledge, as well as more advanced proficiencies of working with economic data, applying existing knowledge and creating new knowledge.
While the lower division courses that I teach, such as Gateway Colloquium and Survey of Economics, emphasize the more basic proficiencies, my upper division courses help students achieve higher level proficiencies. For example, the capstone senior seminar course (ECON 401) requires that each student produce an original research project. I find that students who are actively engaged in original research develop skills in applying existing knowledge to topics that they are interested in and, in the end, creating new knowledge. One of the most satisfying parts of teaching is to help students through this process of acquiring proficiencies through research. My thinking on this process is spelled out in a recent paper titled “Achieving Proficiencies in Economics Capstone Courses” in the Journal of College Teaching and Learning.
I also believe that co-curricular activities can be designed to encourage active learning. For example, the Department of Economics sponsors two unique student edited undergraduate journals (The Park Place Economist and the Undergraduate Economic Review). Both student authors and student editors benefit from the process of publishing original undergraduate research. We also encourage economics students to present their research at conferences such as the John Wesley Powell Research Conference, the Annual Meetings of the Midwest Economics Association and the Carroll Round Conference at Georgetown University. In short, active learning is important, and it does not stop in the classroom.


  • Economics