First Posted: 1/15/2010
PEMBROKE When Lydia Gan, economics professor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, taught introductory economics in Singapore, she fell in love with a textbook and when the publisher asked her to co-author a special edition of it, she seized the opportunity.
That was in 2004, before one of the books co-authors was catapulted to international fame. That man is Ben S. Bernanke, a Princeton University economist and chair of the Federal Reserve.
The Asian edition of Principles of Economics by Bernanke, Robert H. Frank, Gan and Chen Kang was published in mid-2009. Because higher education is booming in Asia and a Mandarin Chinese language edition is planned, the textbook has good prospects.
It started in 2001 when I was teaching a large lecture course at a Singapore university, Gan said. All the professors who helped me teach the course loved this textbook.
Gan liked it too and wrote publishing house McGraw Hill with corrections and suggestions.
The publisher came to me to ask if I would help with the Asian edition, she said. It was a stroke of fortune. They knew I loved this book, and this was before Ben Bernanke was sworn in (as Fed chief).
Gan contributed to the microeconomics section, and she recruited an economics modeling specialist, Chen Kang, to contribute to the macroeconomics section.
Our role was to relate to events and issues in Asia, so students can relate to it, Gan said. The language is different and expressions are different.
The mission for Gan and Chen was vital to the fundamental concept of Principles of Economics as a text for beginning students.
The thing about this book is that it draws out simple economics lessons from everyday life, Gan said. For instance, the idea that there is no free lunch: If your friend buys you lunch, there is always an opportunity cost for everything.
While eating lunch, you could be studying for your examinations, she said.
Gan wrote examples of cost-benefit analysis that Asian students can relate to using relevant events, cultural context and language.
I believe it is the perfect book for beginning economics students, she said. I tell my students to sleep with it under their pillow.
Like nearly all beginning economics students, Gan read the most famous textbook, written by the late Paul Samuelson.
I was overwhelmed, she said. Its a black box.
Principles of Economics takes a less-is-more approach, reducing instruction to seven core principles and providing relevant examples for active learning and ultimately better understanding. And understanding economics is important to everyone, Gan believes.
Economics is in the news recently, she said. It is very important to everyday life.
An active scholar, Gans research continues into the areas of Internet pricing and behavior, intellectual property rights, consumer behavior, and, most recently, medical tourism.
Gan and UNCP economist James Frederick are working on a Web site www.uncp.edu/mtrc to aid their research into this hot-button health care issue.
Gan, who joined UNCP in 2007, regularly teaches courses in health care economics, introductory micro- and macroeconomics and is developing an Internet economics course.