Detailed information and application for the Williams College Winter Study 99 independent study program can be found at https://winterstudy.williams.edu/99s/. Below, we outline the requirements if you wish to pursue a Winter Study 99 project sponsored by the economics department.
Economics is a subject that lends itself naturally to practical application and to learning through real world experience. An internship with a business firm, labor organization, or public agency can be an excellent way to deepen one’s understanding of economics, both by seeing economic principles applied and by seeing theoretical assumptions challenged by real world evidence. Independent projects in economics (other than internships), both on and off campus, can also be highly effective ways of learning.
However, to turn an internship or an independent project into an opportunity for effective learning requires considerable advance thought and careful planning. It is crucial that a project have a clearly defined and worthwhile intellectual focus and that the project should be designed effectively to allow you to pursue that focused study.
In order to help make sure that the Winter Study 99 projects the Economics Department sponsors meet the educational goals of Winter Study, we set forth the following requirements:
- You must have taken at least Economics 110 or 120. If there is an obvious elective that you should take before doing a particular 99, we will also make this a requirement. For example, if your proposal related to issues of health and health insurance, we would require at least Economics 230 (Economics of Health and Health Care). If it related to the Federal Reserve’s management of monetary policy, we would require Economics 252 (Macroeconomics). It is your responsibility to discuss this with your advisor.
- You must begin discussion of your proposed project with a member of the Economics Department well in advance of the deadline for submitting proposals. It is your responsibility to find a member of the Economics Department who is willing to act as your advisor. You need time to draft a proposal, and to nail down details of your arrangements. Very often more than one draft of the proposal is needed. The college-wide deadline to submit completed proposals to the Winter Study Committee is stated on the Winter Study 99 website. In 2023, the deadline is October 2, 2023 @ 11:59 pm. You should submit a draft of your proposal to the economics faculty member who has agreed to advise your project at least five days before the college-wide deadline, to give your adviser a chance to provide feedback on your proposal, and to give the economics department a chance to review your proposal and decide whether to approve it. You should initiate discussion of your proposal with a member of the Economics Department well before that.
- Proposals should include good answers to all of the questions asked in the Winter Study application available at https://williamscollege.formstack.com/forms/winter_study_independent_study. In answering at least some of those questions, you should provide a clear description of the economic content of the proposal. Please submit your proposal for review to the economics faculty member who has agreed to advise the project and get approval before submitting the form to the Winter Study committee.
- Responsibility for gaining access to the information needed to perform an intellectually effective internship or off campus 99 lies with you. You must provide the department with assurance that the needed materials exist and that your duties during Winter Study will allow you both access to them and time for thoughtful study. Interns must provide a letter from their sponsoring organization to the Economics Department chair confirming these arrangements prior to department approval of the WSP. These letters must accompany your proposal, which is due on September 30.
- You must read in the economics literature on the subject with which your internship or other 99 is concerned — commercial banking, advertising, foreign exchange markets, etc. — and prior to WSP — write a brief (5 page) paper on some of the socially important questions that the literature suggests (e.g., bank regulation, liquidity crises, social role of advertising, destabilizing foreign exchange speculation, etc.). The aim is to develop further the intellectual groundwork for the study identified in the original proposal. This paper is due by the last day of reading period. If you do not submit an acceptable paper by this date, you will not be allowed to continue with the WSP during January.
- Interns must write a final paper (10 pages) summarizing the findings of their internship and relating them explicitly to the issues discussed in the proposal and earlier papers. The paper is due on the regular WSP schedule.
- Proposals for 99s other than internships must set out a clear schedule of work and means of evaluation. Unless compelling considerations argue otherwise, you should expect to include a paper as part of your work. As the Winter Study Committee notes, a daily journal alone is not adequate.
These requirements demand considerable planning and commitment from you. We believe that WSP projects that conform to these requirements will prove satisfying and intellectually rewarding, and we will be pleased to sponsor them.