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.

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics

I don’t think we can properly address problems concerning the environment without economics. Economics is a discipline focused on smartly allocating scarce resources, and this applies to natural resources, too. 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 Connecticut College 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.

My upper-division natural resource economics course focuses 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 am currently developing an open-access textbook for this course, which will eventually be hosted here.

Econometrics and Causality

Like with many modern variants of econometics, the development of my course was influenced by Angrist and Pischke’s Through Our Classes, Darkly (link). I focus on the clear, careful thinking needed for the identification of causal effects and showcase modern econometric work through replication. Here’s the syllabus and course outline for Econometrics and Causality, an advanced econometrics course at Connecticut College that promotes students from “practitioners of regression” to “causal identification strategists.” A past version of this course is featured on the Mastering ‘Metrics (Angrist and Pischke, 2014) website.

As there has been a recent push to formalize causal identification logic, there are even more resources available now, compared to when I started teaching econometrics a few years ago. My most recent pass through of econometrics incorporates elements of Causal Inference: The Mixtape (Scott Cunningham, 2021) into my class. I think the directed acyclic graphs from this book in particular provide a great complementary tool to the narrative found in Mastering ‘Metrics.

Selected student comments

I’ve been collecting the following comments on a bunch of sticky notes over the past few years. These mean a lot to me.

“Your enthusiasm and effort did not go unnoticed, your energy bled into the class. I have never been in a classroom where everyone was fully engaged like we were for your 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 you went toe to toe all 12 rounds, no knockout. You never seemed burnt out or frustrated or overwhelmed. You have my highest ratings.”

“You truly cared for this class; you answered emails at almost any times of the day, were willing to set up office hours/review times and always opened the floor for discussion. You 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 you 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 you were so passionate in teaching it and getting us to understand the concepts. I don’t know if you plan on being a professor, but if you do become one students will be lucky to have you.”

“[I appreciate] your focus on concept and intuition on teaching. This is the most difference between young teacher with old. When I took past class with senior professors. I think in their lectures, they don’t always focus on definition, concepts. But you are totally different. From your lecture, homework, exams, you are always emphasizing concepts. I like this way you do. Although your class is difficult, I really can learn knowledges fundamentally.”

“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.”