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For thousands of Americans, the current credit crisis is a nightmare of potential home foreclosures and job layoffs. For Wall Street, it is a market tsunami of complex mortgage investment losses.

But for Penn professors, the crisis is an extra opportunity to bring real-life financial examples to the classroom, where students are showing renewed interest in the current economic situation.

Wharton professor Fernando Ferreira, who teaches an introductory course in real estate, said he has had trouble thinking of real-world examples to demonstrate concepts like sub-prime lending to his students in the past, but now he can turn to a newspaper instead of a textbook.

Ever since last summer, Americans have had trouble finding sources of credit to finance new cars, homes and even college educations. Some have defaulted on loans, unable to make monthly mortgage payments. Wall Street banks are losing billions of dollars and cutting jobs left and right.

Although discussions about a potential housing market downturn started as far back as four years ago in the real estate department, until recently, it has been treated as a theoretical speculation of a potential crisis.

Now, the crisis is no longer a possible scenario but a tangible reality that is affecting everyone from homeowners to Wall Street investment banks.

Tying in current affairs with the course material is beneficial because the material that is applicable to real world events tends to resonate more with students, Economics professor Gwen Eudey wrote in an e-mail.

This is not only providing a slew of "teaching moments" for professors, but also raising student interest in subjects like real estate .

The increased attention on the housing market piqued student demand for Ferreira's class, Real Estate Investments, which boasted a wait list of 65 students for the two sections this year compared to five last semester.

"Economics always seems more interesting to undergraduates when the economy is in trouble," wrote Eudey, who teaches an introductory macroeconomics class.

Students want to understand the current crisis and the causes of it, Ferreira added.

Wharton sophomore Dina Shin is one such example.

After seeing so many articles in the newspapers about the credit crunch and the mortgage crisis, she said she feels the need to educate herself about the current situation.

Eudey wrote that her students this semester have been performing extremely well on exams - even more so than the usual high standards of Penn.

And she added that seeing the immediate relevance of classroom learning tends to make it stay with undergraduates for much longer - as she hopes will happen with her students.

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