Teaching


Below are summaries of the courses I’m always working to improve. Please reach out if you’d like to learn more about the courses or my teaching style. I design all of my materials myself—some sample materials for each course are available by request.


Econometrics and Causality

I think that showcasing empirical research is the best way to get students excited about pursuing a career in economics. When I teach econometrics, I focus on the careful, clever thinking required to identify causal effects, because this is what sets economists apart from other data scientists. Here’s the syllabus and course outline for my undergraduate course at the University of Nevada, Reno that introduces students to research design in economics. The development of my course was definitely influenced by Angrist and Pischke’s Through Our Classes, Darkly (link), and a past version of this syllabus is featured on the Mastering ‘Metrics (Angrist and Pischke, 2014) website. In the near future, I will be teaching Applied Econometrics at the PhD-level, which will carry the same emphasis.


Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

I don’t think we can properly address problems concerning the environment without economics. Understanding the economic principles behind resource use—i.e. the incentives that motivate individual behavior—provides a framework for evaluating trade-offs between competing values and identifying policy solutions that improve societal welfare.

Here’s the syllabus and course outline for a general-interest environmental economics course at the University of Nevada, Reno that focuses on applying the principles of economics to environmental policy. This is a reading, writing, and speaking-intensive course that emphasizes being able to convey economic intuition to policymakers.

I previously taught an upper-division natural resource economics course at Colgate University and Connecticut College. It focused on acquiring skills in mathematical modeling and computational methods in order to make a quantitative contribution to the environmental policy discussion. Here’s the syllabus and course outline. I developed a first draft of an open-access textbook for that course, which will eventually be hosted here if I begin teaching this class again.


Selected student feedback

I’ve been collecting feedback on a bunch of sticky notes over the past few years. I think the comments below reflect:

“[Pierce’s] enthusiasm and effort did not go unnoticed, his energy bled into the class. I have never been in a classroom where everyone was fully engaged like we were for his class. Usually, you have some people that don’t care, screw around, or simply don’t try. I felt like I was challenged to compete, to do better at all times. I feel like he went toe to toe all 12 rounds, no knockout.”

“He truly cared for this class. [Pierce] made what is the hardest class in the major easy to understand and albeit, a little enjoyable. Seldom have I taken a class where I felt like the instructor cared, but he really did. I also felt like I learned a lot from this class, normally I just take notes and try to pass the tests, but I felt compelled to learn the material because he was so passionate in teaching it and getting us to understand the concepts. His future students will be lucky to have him.”

“[Pierce] went beyond the required amount of effort to explain the complex concepts of this class, which was very helpful and educational for students who are looking for more in-depth knowledge of the subject. You could tell he was enthusiastic about the material, and he’s put a lot of thought into explaining concepts in a concise and easy to understand manner. He really wanted to help all of us succeed.”

“I was afraid to take econometrics, this was my last class before I graduated. And it was the class that made me feel like an economist.”

“Not only did I learn a lot from the class, but it gave me the confidence and economic intuition I had been lacking up until that point to succeed in further classes.”

“[Pierce] always understood our struggle and confusion.”