Program Topics and Content

Issues of International Trade

Trade issues have been at the forefront of recent current events: tariffs, trade deficits, Brexit, the global market, sweatshops, child labor, sanctions, embargoes, renegotiating NAFTA, the EU, WTO – the seemingly endless alphabet of interest groups, treaties, organizations, and trade agreements.

As a classroom topic, international trade has the great advantage of providing ready-made material for teachers wanting to engage student interest in current events. However, the complexity of the issues surrounding trade is daunting. While economic reasoning doesn’t guarantee resolution of the issues, it is a powerful tool of critical thinking that brings clarity to the discussion of current events. The ability to determine comparative advantage through opportunity cost, the ability to identify incentives and predict resulting behavior, and the ability to use supply and demand analysis of particular labor and resource markets, help students to set aside the emotion of international trade issues and cut through the rhetoric of media reports.

This workshop will offer examples and classroom activities that help students build a foundation for their opinions on the news of the day.


The Realities of Socialism

FTE is partnering with the Fraser Institute to introduce a new teaching unit “The Realities of Socialism”.  The first of what will be a three-part unit will be covered in the Economic Issues program and will identify the major themes and problems of socialism, using examples from Poland and Estonia, as well as cover the ideas of what socialism is, how it’s understood today, and how it was applied in the past.  Data, analysis, and student activities will highlight the history of socialist thought and application over time.  Emphasis will be placed on the stark difference between the ideals of socialism and the economic results of socialist policies.

Curriculum : lessons with teacher background outlines and classroom activities, including:

    • Socialism – What Is It?  This activity compares student responses with results of a poll of the general public and introduces the definition of socialism.
    • Socialism Defined – the problems of control and incentives
    • Missing Information and Missing Prices – the problems of central control with limited information
    • Failures of Socialism – the knowledge problem and the pathologies of privilege


Federal Budgets, Debts & Deficits

FTE’s Federal Budgets, Debts & Deficits unit addresses the ongoing debate about the federal debt, and reviews some of the challenges involved in trying to manage the government budget.  In response to COVID-19, for example, the U.S. federal government has pushed the U.S. national debt to record levels.

Due to the potential economic implications of the national debt, it is important to understand what it is, how it is financed and what is driving changes in the debt over time. Economic reasoning principles can help provide clarity with those questions. The curriculum will focus on:

  • the budget process – what it should be and what it is
  • the specter of unfunded liabilities
  • the debt and deficit – how bad is it?
  • transparency in budgeting
  • public choice theory and public debt
  • what should students know about our debt?

As with all FTE programs, participants will leave the program with classroom activities.