Roberto Serrano
Harrison S. Kravis University Professor of Economics, Brown University

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[CV]   [Biographical sketch]   [Research and Writings]   [Teaching]   [Fellowships, Awards, Honors]  
[Economic Theory Workshop]

Recent teaching experience:

Graduate Courses

  • Economics 2050, Microeconomics I (Syllabus Fall 2018)
  • Economics 2060, Microeconomics II (Syllabus Spring 2006)
  • Economics 2160, Risk,Uncertainty and Information (Syllabus Fall 2008)
  • Economics 2180, Game Theory
  • Economics 2910, Graduate Reading Course
  • Economics 2970, Microeconomic Theory Workshop


Undergraduate Courses

  • Economics 0110, Principles of Economics (Syllabus Fall 2009)
  • Economics 1110, Intermediate Microeconomics (Syllabus Summer 2006)
  • Economics 1130, Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical) (Syllabus Fall 2019)
  • Brown Critical Review

    Interested in a mathematical approach towards microeconomics? Then consider taking “Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical)” (ECON1130). This course, designed to explore the relationship of economics agents and market mechanisms, is an intermediate level microeconomics class, as noted in its course name. "Principles of Economics" (ECON0110) and "Introductory Calculus, Part II" (MATH0100) are the official prerequisites, and students noted that economics courses and a strong background in calculus were extremely helpful in understanding the material.

    Professor Robert Serrano was highly acclaimed by his students, with one student even proclaiming him as “one of the best profs at Brown.” Students found him to be an effective and passionate instructor who answered questions well and was highly available at his office hours. He was praised for his lecture style, integrating humor and interesting tangents into his lectures. Some noted that in the beginning of the course he taught at a fast pace, but slowed down after a few lectures. A few individuals thought he could have given example problems or practice midterms to better prepare them for the exams; nevertheless, students generally agreed that he “really cares about learning” and is highly enthusiastic about teaching.

    This course consisted of weekly homeworks, two midterms, and a final. Respondents generally found the assignments to be useful and appropriately difficult and relevant, but some believed that the homework was easy compared to the exams, with one respondent even going as far as remarking that the homework, midterms, and final were “challenging, super challenging, gonna die” respectively. Students noted that the textbook was a great course companion to the lectures, as Professor Serrano wrote it himself.

    Ultimately, reviewers noted that Professor Serrano was highly passionate about this course. Many recommended that those who are not confident about their math abilities take "Intermediate Microeconomics" (ECON1110), as ECON1130 has a more rigorous mathematics emphasis. They also recommended that future iterations of this course have more optional practice assignments to better prepare them for the exams. Overall, though, as one student acclaimed, “Professor Serrano was incredible. He made the course.”

    Course evaluation: 4.24/5.0 Professor evaluation: 4.63/5.0.

    Weekly average hours for the course: 3.6 hours. Maximum weekly hours: 7.3 hours.

  • Economics 1170, Welfare Economics and Social Choice Theory (Syllabus Fall 2016)
  • Brown Critical Review

    "Welfare Economics and Social Choice Theory" (ECON1170) questions whether markets harm or help the economy. This advanced microeconomic theory class is mathematically rigorous and discusses many topics such as market failures, social choice theory, and properties of markets. The prerequisites for this course are "Intermediate Microeconomics" (ECON1110) or "Intermediate Microeconomics (Mathematical)" (ECON1130). Students adamantly emphasized that a proficient understanding of mathematical proofs from calculus and linear algebra are essential.

    Professor Roberto Serrano received very high praise from all of his students due to his engaging and clear lectures. Students stated that even though the course is taught at a fast pace, his lectures are extremely effective and worthwhile. Professor Serrano was very prepared for each lecture and receptive to questions. Many respondents said that office hours are valuable and that he is very helpful. All students emphasized the fact that Professor Serrano is clearly very passionate about economics and dedicated to this class.

    The course requirements consisted of ten weekly problem sets from the textbook, a midterm exam, and a final exam. Although almost all the reviewers stated how difficult and challenging the problem sets were, they emphasized their importance in order to understand the material and their usefulness for exams. Suggestions included having organized problem sessions in order to go over the problem sets in depth and having an additional midterm.

    Students spent about four to nine hours on assignments per week. Even though respondents said that the material was difficult, all had extremely positive impressions of this one-of-a-kind course. "Economics was approached in a way that I had never seen before" said one reviewer, and although this course "may seem a little daunting at first, if you like the material, you'll learn a lot."

    Course evaluation: 4.42/5.0 Professor evaluation: 4.68/5.0.

  • Economics 1470, Bargaining Theory and Applications
  • Economics 1870, Game Theory and Applications to Economics (Syllabus Fall 2003)
  • Economics 1940, Current Economics Research: Undergraduate Seminar (Syllabus Spring 2015)
  • Brown Critical Review

    “Current Economic Research” (ECON1940) is a one-of-a-kind opportunity to engage with experts who work at the cutting edge of economics. This seminar course has a different Brown professor or upper-level graduate student present to the class on their research each week, allowing students to go beyond simply learning about economics and actually engage with the luminaries who are creating new ways of thinking about the topic. Reviewers felt that the course allowed them to take the skills that they had learned in classes like “Intermediate Microeconomics” (ECON1110), “Intermediate Macroeconomics” (ECON1210), and “Econometrics I” (ECON1630) and see them being used in the real world. Students felt confident that the course had improved their ability to engage with research and academic writing.

    Respondents spoke glowingly of Professor Roberto Serrano’s availability, high-quality feedback, and preparedness. In the words of one student, “his teaching is just effective.” Students felt that he did a wonderful job in his capacity for facilitating discussion and engaging and challenging both presenters and students. Respondents also felt that he could always be reached when needed, and that he offered top-notch feedback on assignments.

    Students interested in taking this course should have a strong background in economics. Reviewers consistently held that at least some background in economics research is absolutely essential for this course. Enrollees in “Current Economic Research” are expected to complete four five-page papers analyzing the materials presented in class. Students generally felt that the papers were not difficult and encouraged deeper engagement with the class materials. The engaged writing required for this class allows it to satisfy WRIT requirements, and it can also be used as a capstone course for economics concentrators. There were no exams.

    “Current Economic Research” is an “eye opening” class for those interested in the future of economics. Students were unanimous in their praise for the course, holding that it is a unique experience that those who are interest should not hesitate in taking. While some respondents stated that the course was similar to “Applied Research Methods for Economists” (ECON1629), they were unanimous in their opinion that this class is a must-take for the next generation of economics researchers.

    Course evaluation: 4.56/5.0 Professor evaluation: 4.92/5.0.

    Weekly average hours for the course: 2.7 hours. Maximum weekly hours: 6.4 hours.

"We are to regard the mind, not as a piece of iron to be laid upon the anvil and hammered into any shape, nor as a block of marble in which we are to find the statue by removing the rubbish, or as a receptacle into which knowledge may be poured; but as a flame that is to be fed, as an active being that must be strengthened to think and to feel -- and to dare, to do, and to suffer."

Mark Hopkins, President of Williams College, Induction Address, 1836

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