November 26, 2013

Lincoln, Edward
[W4325] Economic Organization and Development of Japan

Please keep in mind that this review is more than 5 years old.

I know that most people went into this class thinking it would be a nice way to full multiple requirements at the same time, as this counts for economics department requirements as well as for Global Core requirements. This class might look like a slam dunk from that perspective, but I found it unenjoyable to an extent that offsets any of these benefits. It might have been more enjoyable when David Weinstein was teaching it, but Edward Lincoln has taken over the class since Weinstein became department chair.

Professor Lincoln makes the point on the first day that this class is as much about Japanese history as it is about economics, as the two are substantially interrelated. In my experience, this class was almost entirely historical, and the emphasis is on memorization rather than understanding. For example, on the first day, he told us the three S's that explain why most of the western world cares about Japan: Sony, sushi, and Samurai. He seemed almost disappointed on the first day that the class contained so many economics majors and very few Asian studies majors. That's not to say there was anything surprising about this, as this class is listed a 4000-level economics class with several economics prerequisites, and the economics major is much more popular than any program in Asian studies. He also had no idea that this class was a Global Core class, or what that requirement even was, which just seemed downright funny to me, especially since this was his second year teaching the class, as it seems like the audience of a class is the most important thing to know before teaching it.

Lectures tended to be very boring and monotonous. I didn't really feel that he was teaching us so much as giving a presentation. The only time he ever tried to involve the class at all was to ask if had been to or recognized some landmark in Japan, or if we knew about so recent Japan-related news. Despite this, attendance was required and he passed around a sheet every lecture to take attendance. He told us on the first day that if we weren't going to be able to make it to class due to some extenuating circumstance, we should let him know. Then he told us that one time when he was teaching a class at another school, one student just stopped showing up after the midterm with no explanation. He told us this in a way that suggested that he expected us to be shocked. I don't think many people took well to this attendance policy, as I often saw people who had a list of five friends who they also signed in. It wasn't rare that the back rows of the classroom were the first to fill up.


The workload is identical to how David Weinstein ran the course, and the syllabus and powerpoint slides are copied verbatim from David Weinstein's class.