Learn and write about the economics of Alaska

Write about economics in Alaska

A course coming in May of 2018 for Roanoke College students: Economics Journeys in Alaska


The 2018 poster is out!


Things to look forward to: Victoria

On our way back to Seattle we will spend over 12 hours in Victoria. Victoria is the capital of British Columbia, Canada. The city is on the southern end of Vancouver Island and is named after Queen Victoria. It boasts several colleges, including the University of Victoria. Famous landmarks include the Empress Hotel, Parliament Buildings, and Beacon Hill Park. If you walk through the park, watch out for the wild peacocks!

What industies generated economic growth in Victoria during the 19th century? 20th? Today?

Things to look forward to: Icy Straight Point

Our final stop in Alaska is Icy Straight Point. Icy Straight point is near Hoonah, AK and is privately owned by Alaskan Natives, largely Tlingit. All shops are also native owned. This is in contrast to our other Alaskan destinations where the city owns the port and the shops are largely owned by the cruise line industry.

The Hoonah Packing Company opened a salmon cannery on the shore in 1912. Ownership changed hands over the years and is now owned by Huna Totem Corporation, which opened its doors to travelers in 2004. 

After exploring the history of Icy Straight Point around the cannery complex, many students will partake in an excursion. A popular one is the ZipRider zip line, one of the longest of its kind in North America. 

Do you think the atmosphere of a private, native owned destination is different from the others?

Things to look forward to: Skagway

Our third stop in Alaska is Skagway, which is as far north as we will travel.

Glacier in Klondike Gold Rush National Park

In the late 1800’s the town was a hot spot for folks joining in on the Klondike Gold Rush. This history is evident as you walk through the town. Students will investigate the impact of the Klondike Gold Rush on the local economy. We will visit the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park and hopefully get a walking tour with one of the rangers. You can read about the Gold Rush and more on the Skagway Vistors’ Bureau webpage.

Downtown Skagway

Students will have plenty of time on their own in Skagway. We are in port for over 12 hours. After our class activity, students might want to hike the Lower Dewey Lake Trail for some great pictures. A great place for food and beverages is the Skagway Brewing Company.

Things to look forward to: Juneau

The second stop on the Alaskan portion of our trip is the capital city, Juneau. The city is located on the Gastineau Channel and is the second largest city in the United States by area. The downtown area is at the base of Mount Juneau. There are no roads connecting Juneau to the mainland largely due to the difficult terrain. Cars can travel to the city by ferry and visitors largely arrive by ship.

Mount Juneau, Juneau, and the Gastineau Channel

Mount Juneau, Juneau, and the Gastineau Channel

Unfortunately we will be in Juneau on a Sunday when many things are closed, but we still have a learning adventure planned. One stop will be the State Capital Building which offers daily tours, including weekends. We will investigate the history and development of Juneau through the displays and conversations with the staff.

State Capital Building

Read up on the city and select a location that you would like to visit while we are there.

Things to look forward to: Ketchikan

The day after we leave Seattle will be at sea as we make our way to Southeast Alaska. The first Alaskan stop is Ketchikan, our entrance to the Inside Passage. The Ketchikan Visitors Bureau has a link with basic information that students should look over before arrival. What drives the local economy?

Downtown Ketchikan from Rainbird Trail (from Ketchikan Visitors Bureau webpage)

Ketchikan is located within the Tongass National Forrest and surrounded by picturesque views. One of the recommended hikes to take in the scenery is the Rainbird Trail. The trail head is downtown, within walking distance of our boat, and is mentioned in the class handout as a suggested hike. I (Dr. Kassens) will be running up if anyone wants to join! I have done this route twice and highly recommend it.

We have a scheduled economics based activity for the May Term students, but everyone will have plenty of time to wander around town.

When you tweet from Ketchikan be sure to use their hashtag #ketchikan!

Pre-trip Update #4

ECON 277 Student Conduct Policy

It is a requirement (and a good idea) that all Roanoke College May Term travel courses have a conduct policy. I have posted our course conduct policy on its own page on this blog.

Students: You must download, read, sign, date, and turn your policy in to me prior leaving. We will have a May Term Group Meeting April 7th at 12:30 (West 115) and you can give me your signed/dated policy then. There are printed copies outside of my office.

Parents: Take a look!

Things to look forward to: Oiselle and Seattle

We will spend some time in Seattle before and after our cruise. You can read up on Seattle and some things that you might like to do while there here. For example, coffee lovers might want to visit the original Starbucks in Pikes Place Market. You will be able to walk there from our hotel.

The original Starbucks

As a group we will visit the Oiselle headquarters. Sally Bergesen founded the women’s running apparel company in 2007 and has become known as a staunch supporter of athletes’ rights and women in sport. Think about questions that you, my young economists, will want to ask the folks at Oiselle Running, Inc. Questions might include “What were the greatest obstacles entering a market with big firms such as Nike?”

Scour the Internet for interesting stories about the company and how they are shaking things up.

Pre-trip Update #3

Several weeks ago I discovered that for groups of 10 people or more, one can submit a bid for ticket prices to United Airlines. After searching for the going rates from various airports near Roanoke to Seattle, I submitted a bid. United submitted a reasonable counter-offer that was much less than the going rates available online;  I accepted.

I recommend this process for group travel, but be sure to have a good idea of a reasonable price. Given the amount of information available online, that is fairly easy to obtain.

I submitted the final payment for the 13 tickets this morning. Our flight itinerary is below:

Day, Date Flight Departure City and Time Arrival City and Time
(CLT) 6:00 AM (IAD – DULLES) 7:24 AM
Flight operated by TRANS STATES AIRLINES doing business as UNITED EXPRESS.
(IAD – DULLES) 8:15 AM (SEA) 11:03 AM
(SEA) 12:26 AM (IAH -BUSH INTL) 6:40 AM
(IAH -BUSH INTL) 10:18 AM (CLT) 1:50 PM
Flight operated by EXPRESSJET AIRLINES INC. doing business as UNITED EXPRESS.

Alaska revenues

The following is a presentation illustrating the sources of Alaskan revenues authored by the folks at www.alaskabudget.com.

revenue slides

Click here for slideshow.

What are the differences between revenue sources in Alaska and Virginia? Alaska and your home state?