With Star Wars, Learn Economics, You Can

Star Wars action figures

November 12, 2020

Economists like to tell us that “economics is everywhere,” but can you also find it in Star Wars?

Senior economics and finance double major Bailey Hackenberry thinks so. His new website Economics of Star Wars, created with Matthew Rousu, dean of Susquehanna’s Sigmund Weis School of Business, uses more than 30 clips from the many Star Wars movies, as well as Disney+ series The Mandalorian, to demonstrate economics principles.

Star Wars in one of the most popular movie franchises of all time,” Hackenberry said. “The topics we cover on Economics of Star Wars are principals that every business student will have to learn, and it helps to apply them to stories that many people already know.”

For example, they use a scene from The Phantom Menace to illustrate how money is defined.

“In order for something to qualify as money, it has to be accepted as money,” Rousu said. “There is a story in The Phantom Menace in which Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn is trying to use Republic credits for money, and can’t because it’s not being accepted as money.”

Other scenes touch on game theory, government policy, labor economics and international trade. Each entry is accompanied by discussion questions.

“For many, economics is a daunting subject. While economics can be tough, it can also be really fun to learn,” Rousu said. “A knowledge of economics is vitally important and learning it can be entertaining with the right resources.”

This is Rousu’s second venture into teaching economics in nontraditional ways. His debut book Broadway and Economics analyzes 161 songs from 90 musicals to explore what they can teach us about supply and demand, monetary policy and numerous other core economic concepts. He also maintains the website www.broadwayeconomics.com.

Ben Smith, associate professor of economics at the University of Nebraska Omaha, also contributed to this project.

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