Louis Johnston

How long have you been at CSB/SJU?

I have been here for 16 years.

What classes do you teach and which is your favorite? Why?

I teach introductory economics (Economics 111), macroeconomics (Economics 333, 363, and 365), and economic history (Economics 315).  I don't have a favorite since I get to design and teach every class within our department's learning goals.

What do you consider to be the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Seeing that "Ah, now I get it!" moment when students learn something and think about the world in a new way.

Where are your teaching areas and interests?

Macroeconomics and economic history.  I'm especially interested in the intersection among economic theory, economic policy, and economic history.

What areas of research are most intriguing to you?

One area of research that is most interesting to me is the evolution of Minnesota's economy since 1850.  Our state went from being above average in per capita income before 1900 to below average from 1920 to 1970 to above average since then.  No other state had the same economic experience. Also, how macroeconomic theory does (and doesn't) affect macroeconomic policymaking is extremely fascinating to me.  The recent financial crisis and recession exemplified the lack of connection between what we know from economic analysis and what we actually do when faced with an economic downturn.

What has been your biggest challenge throughout your years of teaching?

My biggest challenge has been making sure that I understand the level of preparation and maturity students bring to my classes.  This varied over the years; for example, when I started as a professor in 1990, I could presume that most of my students read at least part of a newspaper (maybe just the sports section.)  Now I can't assume this and need to ensure that my students keep up with current events.

Why did you choose CSB/SJU?

I didn't so much choose CSB/SJU as they chose me.  I wanted to teach in a liberal arts environment in Minnesota and I was fortunate that CSB/SJU thought I would be a good fit.