JEE Note

Teaching Economics Using NBC’s Parks and Recreation

Jadrian J. Wooten[1]

Kalina Staub[2]

JEL Codes: A22, A10

Keywords: teaching economics, economics education, economics website, media website

URL: http://economicsofparksandrec.com

Parks and Recreation was a television sitcom based in the fictional town of Pawnee, Indiana, which was described as more exciting than New York, more glamorous than Hollywood, and roughly the same size as Bismarck, North Dakota (Knope 2011). This mockumentary comedy focuses on the Pawnee Parks Department and avails itself to topics ranging from public choice, free enterprise, and government function. Parks and Recreation was awarded a Peabody Award (2011) for “developing a venue to explore the good side of American democracy in an age when that side is so rarely on display.” The Economics of Parks and Recreation Web site assists educators in implementing clips from the show into their lectures or to assign clips as part of an assessment.

This Web site adds to the library of teaching clips available online for shows like Seinfeld (Ghent, Grant, & Lesica 2010), The Office (Kuester, Mateer, & Youderian 2014), The Big Bang Theory (Tierney et al. 2016), and Shark Tank (Patel et al. 2014). Educators have been advocating for the use of video clips in economics courses (Sexton 2006, and Al-Bahrani et al. 2016) and have been researching clips for media as varied as The Simpsons (Luccassen and Thomas 2010), ESPN’s 30 for 30 (Al-Bahrani and Patel 2015), and Broadway musicals (Rousu 2016).

The Website is designed around principles courses, but includes clips suitable for field courses in behavioral, health, public policy, labor, ethics (Borry 2018) or even a course designed entirely around Ron Swanson (Conaway and Clark 2015). The Website has over 125 clips with categories and tags assigned for ease of navigation. It is the authors’ hope that this site can provide a stable source of economics clips that are not easily observable in other shows with economics-themed sites already available. 

REFERENCES

Al-Bahrani, A., Holder, K., Patel, D., & Sheridan, B. J. 2016. “The great digital divide: Using popular media to teach economics.” Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research 17(2): 105.

Al-Bahrani, A., and Patel, D. 2015. “Using ESPN 30 for 30 to teach economics.” Southern Economics Journal 81(3): 829–42.

Borry, E. L. 2018. “Teaching public ethics with TV: Parks and Recreation as a source of case studies.” Public Integrity 20(3): 300–315.

Conaway, L. B., & Clark, C. 2015. “Swansonomics: Using “Parks and Recreation” to teach economics.” Journal of Economics and Finance Education 14(1), 41-68.

Ghent, L. S., Grant, A., & Lesica, G. 2011. “The economics of Seinfeld.” The Journal of Economic Education 42(3): 317-318.

Knope, L. 2011. Pawnee: The Greatest Town in America. New York: Hachettte Book Group.

Kuester, D. D., Dirk Mateer, G., & Youderian, C. J. 2014. “The economics of The Office.” The Journal of Economic Education 45(4): 392.

Luccasen, R. A., & Thomas, M. K. 2010. “Simpsonomics: Teaching economics using episodes of The Simpsons.” The Journal of Economic Education 41(2): 136-149.

Mateer, G. D., Ghent, L. S., & Stone, M. 2011. “TV for economics.” The Journal of Economic Education 42(2): 207-207.

Peabody Award: Parks and Recreation (NBC) 2011. Retrieved July 11, 2017 from http://www.peabodyawards.com/award-profile/parks-and-recreation

Rousu, M. C. 2016. “Broadway economics.” The Journal of Economic Education 47(3), 268.

Sexton, R. L. 2006. “Using short movie and television clips in the economics principles class.” Journal of Economic Education 37(4): 406–17.

Tierney, J., Mateer, G. D., Smith, B., Wooten, J., & Geerling, W. 2016. “Bazinganomics: Economics of The Big Bang Theory.” The Journal of Economic Education 47(2): 192.

[1] The Pennsylvania State University, Department of Economics, 315 Kern Graduate Building, University Park, PA 16801

[2] University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Department of Economics, Gardner Hall CB 3305, Chapel Hill, NC 27599