Professor Art Mead engages his students in one of his economics classes with whimsical music. Photo by Grace DeSanti.
If you’re looking for a class with scenic views and funky music, look no further than Arthur Mead’s economics classes.
Mead teaches ECN 201: Principles of Microeconomics at the University of Rhode Island. In a world where technology swallows up our time at an alarming rate, Mead aims to engage his students by starting each class with eccentric music.
Making students excited about learning is important to Mead. Mead said it seems that if education is seen as a task or a job, then students won’t be able to be as excited about the material they are learning.
Mead said that he wants his students to take away an understanding of basic economic concepts such as opportunity cost and behavioral economics. Mead’s classes mostly consist of freshmen, and he said that he enjoys helping students understand the basics of economics.
“For most of them, it’s the only time they’re ever going to do economics,” said Mead. “I want them to be able to push some numbers around.”
Over the years, Mead has changed both the subject material taught in his courses and what he asks students to take away from the courses.
Helping first-semester students better understand URI Island is also important to Mead. “Leaning in” is also important when teaching for Mead, as he tries to get women to feel more comfortable expressing their opinions in class.
Jack Cederberg, a former student of Mead and a current teacher assistant for Mead, said that he puts a useful economic spin on topics in the class. According to Cederberg, this helps make the topics applicable to real life.
“I felt like everything I learned I still apply it when I reason through things or read through things,” said Cederberg.
Additionally, Cederberg said that the topics learned in the class can be indirectly applied to political discussions, seeing the country is approaching an election year.
“I wish everyone who chooses to chime in about politics nowadays, 90 percent of them have no idea what they’re talking about and they should come take this course,” said Cederberg.
Another teacher assistant and former student of Mead, Vanessa Varone, said that she agreed with this sentiment. Varone said that looking at the economic forefront is important when discussing politics.
Varone said that Mead’s teaching style is extremely erratic, fun and includes frequent engagement.
Cederberg said that this style of teaching might alarm freshmen who, on the first day of classes, are not used to such a teaching style yet, but said that this was a good thing.
With 250 first-semester students, Mead said he tries to engage students with real-life examples to help reach beyond the classroom. Looking at human behavior, an important concept in microeconomics, is one way that Mead teaches his subject material
Mead said that the University has a lot to offer to students, but that these opportunities are not always taken advantage of. However, Mead encourages his students to take advantage of all the University has to offer.
“Just do the numbers,” said Mead. “If all of the students asked for all that we offer, we couldn’t do it. So they have to be those students who take advantage of it.”