Diane Zannoni has taught Trinity students about the economics of shipping from the top deck of a container ship in Oakland Harbor, about the development of banking while standing in the Jewish ghetto in Venice, and about the economic development of Rome surrounded by the Forum. She loves economics and has been able to find creative ways to teach economic ideas to Trinity students, in our programs away and abroad as well as in Hartford. Each year she teaches econometrics — how economists construct and test hypotheses. You might think this a somewhat dry subject, but Professor Zannoni invite students to choose questions that have some meaning to them, such as What can a baseball team do to increase the probability of winning? Or Did the needle exchange education program at the Hartford Hispanic Health Council decrease risky behavior among intravenous drug users? Students apply the econometric techniques learned in the class to answer their questions, and by the end of the semester they are able to present their results to about 300 people — faculty, staff, their friends, and people from the Hartford community. Some projects have formed the foundation for senior honor theses, some have been published, and others have helped students determine what their career focus will be.
This is an exciting time to study economics, because the world has opened up so tremendously and there’s an opportunity to look at questions from a broad international perspective. It’s not just about the U.S. anymore. Students can look at the transformation of the former Soviet Union, the development of the European Union, the Asian economic collapse, and developing economies. Especially at Trinity, where we have students from so many different countries and economic systems, students bring varied experiences and points of view to the classroom. Assumptions get challenged and myths get exploded right there during class. One of the central questions of economics is: What is the responsibility of government in the economy? Should it be hands-off or interventionist? Recent events in the U.S. and around the world are causing economists and students to look very closely at that question. These are questions that Professor Zannoni addresses in both Intermediate Macroeconomics course and in the Senior seminars which she teaches.
The area in which Professor Zannoni does her research is generally referred to as macroeconomics. As with many fields in the social sciences, sharp differences exist in macroeconomics. The principle point of contention is whether or not there are forces in the economy which tend to bring about full employment without inflation. One group of macroeconomists believes that there are such forces in the economy and that these forces will automatically move an economy to equilibrium. In this view deviations from full employment are either temporary or the result of inept government policies. A second group believes that such forces do not exist and that an economy is unlikely to reach full employment without government intervention. It is within this latter group, as Post Keynesian, that she does her research. In her research, published in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics and Philosophy and Economics, she has tried to elucidate not only the causes of unemployment and inflation, but also an approach to these problems which might eventually reveal solutions.