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Teresa Cyrus, associate professor

A day in the life

Teresa Cyrus, associate professor

Economics_Teresa-Cyrus-2

Economics is a way of thinking about the world. It gives students analytical skills and info about the economy, about how firms and governments operate that they can bring to working in firms, investment banks, and governments.

Making economics relevant

After 15 years of teaching, including seven years as the undergraduate program coordinator, Teresa Cyrus continues looking for ways to make her two introductory courses – micro-economics in the fall and macro-economics in the winter – relevant to her students’ lives.

“I try to cover key concepts that will help them be better citizens, better voters, throughout their lifetimes,” she says. “I can’t assume they’ll take more courses than [the intro]. So I show them, ‘This is when you’ll need this concept.’”

The coordinator role is simply another way to help students. “I enjoy helping them plan their programs,” she says.

In her view, studying economics will give students a “bigger picture” view of the economy: “It gives an applied focus to theoretical subjects, and gives them a deeper understanding of why firms do what they do, how governments have an impact on what firms do, and what the best course of action is from society’s point of view.”

And for those students who are “scared off by math,” no need to worry: “We have both BA and BSc programs,” says Dr. Cyrus. “Many students have a science background, with more experience in math and stats, so they can use those skills they’ve already developed.” For students aiming to complete a BA, the program provides the math and statistics knowledge “that every economist needs. They don't have to focus on math if they don’t want to.”

Comparing China and India

Prof. Cyrus also teaches a second-year course called The Economic Rise of China and India. “It’s really fun. And I know what students learned in first year, so they can’t get away with saying they don’t know what I’m talking about when I bring up specific examples about micro- and macro-economics,” she adds with a smile.

“We can talk about the macro side, like the exchange rate and growth, which are huge issues for China and India. Then we move on to other things, like democracy, institutional change, the central bank’s policies, government policies. It’s been very interesting, especially given that we have so many students from China.”

The majority of those students are in the department’s 2 + 2 program, which partners with Chinese universities to allow their students to study two years in China before coming to Dal for the final two years. Dr. Cyrus has travelled to China to stand in for the program’s regular coordinator, Barry Lesser.

“I haven’t been to India yet,” she says, adding that she’s planning a trip for fall 2014. “I’m so excited – it will be very interesting to compare China to India.”