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Faculty

Davis F. Taylor

Davis F. Taylor
207-801-5711 | dtaylor@coa.edu | faculty website

davis taylorDavis Taylor joined the faculty of College of the Atlantic in 1995 and teaches a wide range of courses in economics. On four occasions he has taught for a term in Yucatan as part of the College's International Studies program.

Davis was originally trained in neoclassical microeconomics, but his research interests have expanded to include development economics, ecological economics, new institutional economics, and sustainable community development. His research and book reviews have been published in the Southern Economic Journal, Ecological Economics, the Human Ecology Review, and Community Development. His teaching and research in Yucatan led him to develop an alternative to cost-benefit analysis that better incorporates community sustainability into project assessment. He has presented papers that model the human ecology of forests, expand the concepts of community sustainability, develop tools for ecotourism planning and operations, and examine the economics of community supported fisheries. Davis recently completed a year-long, NSF-supported research project with a group of other COA faculty and students that examined the economic, social, and environmental feasibility of increasing the use of wood for home heating in Hancock County. His current research efforts include the economics of food systems, the role of institutions in shaping economic development (new institutional economics) and the ecological economics of resource collapse. He serves on the Public Policy Committee of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA).

Davis received a B.S. in Political Science from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1985, after which he served for five years in the field artillery and completed Airborne, Air Assault, and Jungle schools. He left the U.S. Army as a Captain in 1990, and earned his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Oregon in 1995. While at the University of Oregon he received the Kliensorge Award for Teaching Excellence and served as a consultant to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its study of the economic impact of critical habitat designation for the endangered marbled murrelet.

Davis' non-academic interests include family farming and resilient living.

B.S. United States Military Academy, 1985
M.S. University of Oregon, 1994
Ph.D. Economics, University of Oregon, 1995

Courses Taught

HS886Advanced Seminar in Ecological Economics

This seminar explores selected themes in ecological economics, which is both the economics of sustainability as well as a paradigmatic approach distinct from the mainstream neoclassical approach to the study of economic activity. We will use the first several weeks of the term to define and outline ecological economics. We will use the remainder of the term to explore topics of student interest, focusing on three to five major themes; possible themes include methodological issues (post-normal science, transdisciplinarity), biophysical constraints to economic growth (entropy, technological pessimism, capital substitution, critical natural capital, resource peaks), sociocultural impacts of economic growth (consumption, happiness studies), energy and resource flow analysis (entropy), system dynamics (steady state economy, resiliency, degrowth), measurement issues (growth versus development, ecological footprint, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare), institutional arrangements (adaptations of ideas from Douglass North), trade and development (embodied trade, pollution havens), community sustainability, philosophical issues (Buddhist economics, homo economicus), historical issues of sustainability (Malthusian perspectives, Jevon's Paradox). Evaluation will be via an exam at the end of the introductory phase, article précis, and a final poster presentation. 

Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: one term intermediate neoclassical economics.  Class limit: 12.  Lab fee: none.  *HS*

HS795Advanced Seminar in Economics: Globalization

This seminar will use the topic of economic globalization as a context in which to learn, tinker with, and critique a wide range of microeconomic, macroeconomic, and economic development theories, models, and empirical evidence. There is no general economic theory of globalization, so our coverage will necessarily be eclectic, selective, and largely based on student interests. As a departure point for using economics to explore the contours of globalization, we will employ a rubric encompassing five themes: 1) fundamental processes (such as economic growth and population dynamics) that lead to economic globalization; 2) studies of the flows of economic inputs and products (addressing capital flows and controls, migration and remittances, international commodity markets, and trade and trade imbalances); 3) the institutions and governance that influence economic globalization (such as pre- and post-colonial institutions, corporate structure and governance, and the roles of the IMF and WTO); 4) inequality (addressing global class structure, foreign aid and sovereign debt, and gender issues); and 5) crises (currency crises and contagion, the recent financial crisis). Evaluation will be based on participation in extensive discussions in and out of the classroom, submission of pr?s and problem sets, and a synthetic capstone essay. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: courses in intermediate economics and international issues or equivalent, and permission of instructor. *HS*

HS466Creative Destruction: Understanding 21st Century Economies

Joseph Schumpeter in 1942 used the phrase "creative destruction" to describe the process by which capitalism creates vibrant economic growth and new technologies and modes of production, but in doing so destroys organizations and relationships linked to older technologies and modes of production, often with adverse effects on individuals and communities. Many observers feel that Schumpeter's description is even more appropriate today, as information technologies and the long arm of multinational capitalism create vast new potential for economic growth and improvement in living standards, while rapidly altering social and environmental relationships, marginalizing those communities unable or unwilling to adapt, and exacerbating existing inequalities. This course gives the student currency in the dynamic issues surrounding 21st Century capitalist economies (including "advanced," developing, and robber/crony capitalisms) using an institutionalist approach; as such, the course focuses more on using a variety of approaches to understanding economic phenomena, and less on imparting the standard body of neoclassical theory (although the latter will be used where appropriate). Fundamental capitalistic structures and processes are examined and contrasted with traditional and command economies. Major attention is given to the role of multinational corporations in the global economy. Other topics include technology, stock markets and investing, money and central banks such as the U.S. Federal Reserve, business cycles, unemployment and inflation, trade and currency issues, consumerism and the nature of work, and whatever other topics students collectively wish to explore. Student evaluation is via multiple diagnostic tools, possibly including quizzes, reading questions, a current event portfolio, written book reviews or issue analysis, and oral exams. Level: Introductory. Lab fee:$20. *HS*

HS728Economic Development: Theory and Case Studies

Economic growth in the developing world has lifted millions out of poverty at the same time that misguided attempts at widespread application of generic economic development theories has impoverished millions. As a result of this tragedy, new approaches and methodologies to economic development are emerging, and represent some of the most important, dynamic, and controversial theories in all of economics. This course examines these new perspectives on economic development. We will briefly contextualize the new by reviewing ?old? economic development, then move on to theories that emphasize very place-based, country-specific approaches to how economies develop; this will involve examining the specific roles of capital accumulation, capital flows (including foreign exchange, portfolio capital, foreign direct investment, and microfinance), human capital, governance, institutions (especially property rights, legal systems, and corruption), geography and natural resource endowments, industrial policy (e.g. free trade versus dirigiste policies), and spillovers, clustering, and entrepreneurship. The course will involve a rigorous mix of economic modeling, careful application of empirical data (including both historical analysis and cross-sectional studies; students with no exposure to econometrics will receive a brief introduction) and country studies. Evaluation will be based on classroom participation, responses to reading questions, short essays, and a final project consisting of an economic development country study of the student?s choice that demonstrates application of theoretical concepts to the real world. Level: Intermediate/ Advanced; Prerequisites: One economics course, signature of signature. Class limit: 15. *HS*

HE001Human Ecology Core Course

Human Ecology is the interdisciplinary study of the relationships between humans and their natural and cultural environments. The purpose of this course is to build a community of learners that explores the question of human ecology from the perspectives of the arts, humanities and sciences, both in and outside the classroom. By the end of the course students should be familiar with how differently these three broad areas ask questions, pose solutions, and become inextricably intertwined when theoretical ideas are put into practice. In the end, we want students to be better prepared to create your own human ecology degree through a more in depth exploration of the courses offered at College of the Atlantic. We will approach this central goal through a series of directed readings and activities. Level: Introductory. Lab fee: TBA. *HE*

HS928Introduction to Economics

This course gives students currency in the leading economic theories (models, concepts, vocabulary, etc.) used in the analysis and policy formation regarding economic activity, domestic economies, and international economic relations. Topics will include an introduction to competing economic perspectives, alternative normative criteria (e.g. efficiency, distribution, sustainability), markets, supply and demand analysis, risk and uncertainty, asymmetric information, unemployment and inflation, aggregate supply and demand, monetary and fiscal policies, financial bubbles, and international trade and finance. The course includes a lab session that will emphasize problem-solving methods and use of models, while much of classroom time will be dedicated to the application of models to real world situations and current events. This course should be of particular interest to students interested in business, international environmental issues, globalization, inequality and economic justice, and a host of other topics. Evaluation will be based on weekly homework assignments emphasizing technical proficiency in basic mathematical modeling, along with four quizzes and classroom participation.  

Level: Introductory; Prerequisites: none; Class limit: 15; Lab fee: none.  *HS* *QR*

HS760Introduction to Economics: Global Issues

This course gives students currency in the leading economic theories (models, concepts, vocabulary, etc.) used in the analysis and policy formation regarding domestic economies and international economic relations, with an emphasis on applications in the realms of globalization, international environmental politics and policy, and other major international issues. Topics will include an introduction to competing economic perspectives, alternative normative criteria (e.g. efficiency, distribution, sustainability), markets, supply and demand, basic macroeconomic variables, aggregate supply and demand, and monetary and fiscal policies. We will use these ideas as a basis to explore additional theories such as international dimensions of economic development, comparative advantage and trade theory; tariffs and non-tariff barriers to trade, trade agreements and economic integration, international finance (currency markets, exchange rate regimes, currency crises, moral hazard), speculative bubbles and economic crises, foreign direct investment, outsourcing and labor standards, migration, and international environmental issues (e.g. public goods, open access, and the Coase Theorem). The course includes a mandatory lab session that will emphasize problem-solving methods and use of models. Evaluation will be based on weekly homework assignments emphasizing technical proficiency in basic mathematical modeling, along with four quizzes and classroom participation. Level: Introductory; Prerequisites: none; Class limit 15; *HS* *QR*

HS832Macroeconomic Theory

This course seeks to give students knowledge of macroeconomic theories, models, and concepts. Emphasis will be evenly placed on both formal modeling and intuitive approaches to understanding economic phenomena; an understanding of the relatively formal, abstract macroeconomic models of neoclassical economics will be used to provide a framework for discussion about contemporary macroeconomic phenomena and policy responses. Topics will include unemployment and inflation, fiscal and monetary policy, consumption and savings, economic growth, business cycles, monetary theory and banking systems, balance of payments and international macroeconomics, along with topics of student interest. Evaluation will be based on problem sets, quizzes, and classroom participation. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisites: one term of college economics, or instructor permission. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: none. *HS*

HS651Microeconomics for Business and Policy

What is the best way to insure that communities can provide dependable, well-paying jobs to their citizens? Why does Coca Cola spend millions of dollars to advertise a product with which most people are already very familiar? What can the game of blackjack tell us about how industries are structured? How can we get coal-burning power utilities to reduce their carbon emissions while they save millions of dollars in the process? How can we provide much better health care to all Americans, at much less cost, while making it easier for small businesses to grow? All of these questions, and many more like them, are answered by microeconomic theory. This intermediate-level course exposes students to basic microeconomic theories, models, and concepts that shed insight on the economic behavior of businesses, individuals, governments and politicians, and international organizations. We will emphasize approaches that have numerous overlapping applications to both business and policy evaluation: markets, pricing, firm structure and decision-making, strategic behavior (using game theory), consumer behavior, externalities (such as greenhouse gas emissions) and the provision of public goods (such as military, education, and environmental conservation). We will pay special attention to the economics of asymmetrical information (adverse selection, moral hazard, and principal-agent situations) that have a wide range of applications, including issues such as the ineffectiveness of the American health care system, the structuring of business finance, and the hiring and paying of employees. This will be a non-calculus course, but will give students exposure to technical economic modeling, with heavy emphasis on graphical modeling of complex social phenomena. We will use a lab period to conduct extensive experiments and games that illustrate or test economic concepts and hypotheses. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: Signature of instructor or 1 course in economics or business. *

HS897Tutorial: Economics of Cooperation, Networks & Trust

This tutorial gives students an overview of the economics of cooperation, networks, and trust. We will focus on four major ways of understanding cooperation: individual optimization, strategic optimization, institutions, and embedded social relationships (networks), and we will apply cooperation to the contexts of commonly held resources, networks and strategic alliances, and formal economic organizations (cooperatives). Our study over the course of the term will gradually move from theoretical tools to real-world examples.  After an introduction to the relevant issues and an examination of the standard neoclassical approach of optimization (with cooperation as part of the choice set),  we will have a brief exposure to coordination games as a means of conceptualizing strategic behavior and graph theory as a means of conceptualizing networks.  We will then enrich our understanding of networks through the examination of social capital and tacit knowledge. With these tools in hand, we will examine the development of institutions for the management of common pool resources (e.g. fisheries, climate) and the role of networks in economic contexts.  The last several weeks of the term will be used to examine real world examples of cooperation and networks, such as the networks of Emilia Romagna, diaspora networks, the Mondragón complex, and worker-owned businesses in the United States and Canada. The tutorial will be delivered seminar-style, with heavy emphasis on thoughtful participation in classroom discussions.  Students will be evaluated on participation in discussions as well as short essays, written exercises, demonstrations, and game playing, and an end-of-term case-study of a network, common pool management situation, or cooperative business. 

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Intermediate microeconomics or permission of instructor; preference will be given to students with additional intermediate economics experience. Class limit: 5. Lab fee: none.

HS823Tutorial: Selected Themes in Ecological Economics

This advanced tutorial explores selected themes in ecological economics, which is both the economics of sustainability as well as a paradigmatic approach distinct from the mainstream neoclassical approach to the study of economic activity. We will use the first several weeks of the term to define and outline ecological economics. We will use the remainder of the term to explore topics of student interest, focusing on three to five major themes; possible themes include methodological issues (post-normal science, transdisciplinarity), biophysical constraints to economic growth (entropy, technological pessimism, capital substitution, critical natural capital), sociocultural impacts of economic growth (consumption, happiness studies), energy and resource flow analysis (entropy), measurement issues (growth versus development, ecological footprint, Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare), institutional arrangements (biodiversity protection, climate change economics), trade and development (embodied trade, pollution havens), community sustainability (philosophical issues (Buddhist economics, homo economicus), and historical issues of sustainability (Malthusian perspectives, Jevon's Paradox). Evaluation will be via a "gateway" exam at the end of the introductory phase, article pr's, and a final poster presentation. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: one term intermediate economics and instructor permission; students will be expected to come to the tutorial with a firm grasp of neoclassical methods and assumptions. Class limit: 5. Lab fee: none.