ECON 490 008 Problems and Controversies in the Economy

Note: Courses that involve international travel will be subject to travel restrictions issued by UBC, the Canadian government and the host country.  While plans are in place to consider travel for 2022, students should understand that the changing landscape of COVID-19 will determine the viability closer to the date.  Should travel not be possible, this course will be taught on campus with remote project collaborations with community organizations and guest speakers joining remotely

Program Overview

ECON 490 is the capstone course of the Economics Majors program at the VSE. It is designed to introduce students to hands-on economic research, in a small-group setting, with close supervision from a faculty member. This section of ECON 490 engages community based experiential research through ISL as a pedagogy.

ECON 490 008 is a 3 credit capstone Economics course from January to August including a 3 month international service-learning placement from May to August. This page describes the international service learning (ISL) placement associated with ECON 490 008; find more information about the capstone course here.

Course Description

Economics 490 008 Problems and Controversies in the Economy: Responding to Community Priorities in a Global Context is a capstone course integrating an international service learning(ISL) approach with rigorous academic studies.

The aim of this course then is to both deepen and broaden students’ understanding of the process of sustainable economic development as it affects poor communities through student participation in applied community-based research through ISL. Students will undertake a research project related to a specific economic problem of relevance to the community organization with whom they will be placed with. The academic content will prepare students to think critically and reflectively during their placements, connecting experience to scholarly literature, so that insights gained can be presented afterward as a contribution to the economic discipline.

The in-class instruction will be in T2, and again in August/September. Placements abroad will take place for a 12 week period from May to August and are coordinated by ORICE.

Note: Grades will be posted in August 2022. Students enrolling in this option will not be eligible for May 2022 graduation given that the remote placements will be in progress at that time.

International Service Learning Program 

Student enrollment in ECON 490 008 is part of the ISL program and requires full participation in:

  • ECON 490 seminars on campus from January-April 2022
  • ORICE pre-departure learning sessions from Jan-April 2022
  • 12 week International Service Learning (ISL) placement from the beginning of May to the beginning of August 2022
  • Mid-placement workshop facilitated by ORICE at the end of June
  • Return seminar and final course-work on campus in August 2022
  • ORICE re-entry debrief session and activities in August 2022

More information

Students interested in taking part of the international service learning portion of the course must be registered in ECON 490. If you require assistance with ECON 490 course registration, please email Undergraduate Student Support ( ECON 490 course eligibility:

  • Open to all Economics students who have completed: all of ECON 325, ECON 326 and one of ECON 301, ECON 304 and one of ECON 302, ECON 305.
  • Priority will be given to students who have successfully completed a course involving community engaged learning in Economics.

Note: Grades will be posted in August 2022. Students enrolling in this option will not be eligible for May 2022 graduation given that the remote placements will be in progress at that time.

As a part of the ECON 490 008 course, you will be enrolled in an International Service Learning placement. Specific placements will be announced in March 2022. ECON 490 008 placements may be located in Mexico, Costa Rica, India, Kenya, Uganda, or other countries where ISL community partners are located.

In Uganda, Kenya and India, you will live with host families in modest conditions. In most cases, you will take public transport to and from your placement. In Mexico and Costa Rica you will live in hostel-style accommodations with modest living conditions on the placement site.

  1. Review course and program details (please contact with any questions you may have).
  2. Review the ECON 490 008 course description on the Economics website and apply first through the Economics website.
  3.  Note: We will only be reviewing applications from those who have filled out the initial ECON 490 008 application form
  4. Successful applicants will be contacted by email to continue the selection process (see below).
  5. Students who have been selected to participate in ECON 490 008 will be force registered in the course and removed from any other 490 sections.

Selection Process

To apply please fill out and submit an online application. Successful applicants will be invited to an interview. After interviews, you will be notified of a decision; successful candidates will be sent an offer letter with further details on the program and detailed instructions on how to accept. You will have approximately one week after receiving the offer letter to accept. Your selection into the ISL program includes meeting eligibility requirements, as well as your initial application and your performance in the interview.

Don’t wait to apply, spaces are limited! Applications will be taken on a rolling basis until the course is full. Submitting an application is taken as a commitment to enroll in the course. Students whose application is accepted will automatically be enrolled in the course, and removed from any other 490 sections.

Pre-Departure Overview

The pre-departure learning program is designed to prepare you for an international service learning placement. This will include:

  • Pre-departure learning sessions taking place over the academic term leading up to departure led by staff and community development professionals.
  • Creation of a learning and development plan
  • Participant-led events/presentations
  • Facilitated meetings with your placement team to explore learning topics
  • Post-Placement Overview

Post-Departure Overview

You will participate in post-placement activities in August 2022, including:

  • A full day to debrief in August 2022
  • Return seminar and final coursework in August 2022