Economics And Neuroscience Meet In The Economics Of Addiction


I’m currently the Economics of Addiction, taught by economics professor Aju Fenn and guest professor Angela Scibelli Clute. Aju teaches how the economic theory is affected when addictive substances are factored into models, while Angela focuses on the scientific side of how substances affect the brain neurologically. We spend 3 days of the week learning economics and 2 days learning about the neuroscience. Studying the subjects in tandem reveals the subtle similarities and differences between the subjects. The scheduling also makes for a unique experience for students familiar with the block plan. This is my senior year at CC and it almost feels like I’m back on a semester system taking two different, yet complementary classes. I’m a big proponent of the block plan, but it’s a nice change of pace from the intensity of focusing on a single discipline for four straight weeks block after block.

A lot of assumptions are made about addicts. They live on the fringes of society, they’re mentally ill and they don’t think rationally. As an economist, we often endeavor to prove these assumptions right or wrong based on quantitative evidence. Are there environmental commonalities between addicts that lead them down a road of self-destruction? Or are there complex genetic predispositions in their genome present to blame for their life choices? Can a certain phenotype be factored into an economic model? This is where the economic and biological aspects of the course meet, whether we find some consensus is anybody’s guess. Stay tuned…