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University of Colorado Denver College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

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Faculty & Staff Directory

Steven Medema, PhD

Distinguished Professor of Economics

President's Teaching Scholar

Vita: Professor Medema's Vita​​​​
E-mail: Steven Medema
Office Location: Lawrence Street Center 470M
Phone: 303-315-2032
Fax: 303-315-4048
Areas of Expertise:
The History of Economic Thought

Education & Degrees

PhD, Economics, Michigan State University, 1989
MA, Economics, Michigan State University, 1987
BA, Economics, Calvin College, 1985


Dr. Medema is Distinguished Professor of Economics and Director of CU Denver's University Honors and Leadership Program. His research focuses on the history of twentieth-century economics, and his current project analyzes the origins, diffusion, and controversies over the Coase theorem in economics, law and beyond. His 2009 book, The Hesitant Hand: Taming Self-Interest in the History of Economic Ideas (Princeton), was awarded the 2010 Book Prize by the European Society for the History of Economic Thought. Dr. Medema teaches courses in microeconomics and the history of economic thought. Dr. Medema was designated a University of Colorado President's Teaching Scholar in 2008 and named a CU Distinguished Professor in 2013. Dr. Medema served as Editor of the Journal of the History of Economic Thought from 1999-2008 and currently serves as General Editor of ​Oxford Studies in the History of Economics, a book series published by Oxford University Press. He is a member of the editorial boards of several history of economics journals and served as President of the History of Economics Society for 2009-10.

Select Publications

Paul Samuelson on the History of Economics: Selected Essays (edited with Anthony Waterman).  Forthcoming, Cambridge University Press.​

The Hesitant Hand: Taming Self-Interest in the History of Economic Ideas. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.  Paperback edition, 2011.

Economics and the Law: From Posner to Post Modernism and Beyond, 2nd edition (with Nicholas Mercuro). Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Ronald H. Coase. London and New York: Macmillan and St. Martin's Press, 1994.

"The Coase Theorem: Lessons for the Study of the History of Economic Thought," Journal of the History of Economic Thought (forthcoming March 2011).

"Defining Economics: The Long Road to the Acceptance of the Robbins Definition" (with Roger E. Backhouse), Economica 76 (October 2009): 805-820.

"On the Definition of Economics" (with Roger E. Backhouse), Journal of Economic Perspectives 23 (Winter 2009): 221-33.

"'Losing My Religion: Sidgwick, Theism, and the Struggle for Utilitarian Ethics in Economic Analysis," History of Political Economy 40 (Supplement 2008): 189-211.

"Wandering the Road From Pluralism to Posner: The Transformation of Law and Economics, 1920s-1970s." The Transformation of American Economics: From Interwar Pluralism to Postwar Neoclassicism: History of Political Economy Annual Supplement 30 (1998): 202-24. Reprinted in Alain Marciano, ed., Law and Economics: A Reader. London: Routledge, 2009.

Courses Taught

ECON 2022, Principles of Microeconomics
ECON 4071, Intermediate Microeconomics 
ECON 4091/5090, The History of Economic Thought 
UNHL 3820, The Economics of Life