The Association for Heterodox Economics welcomes student initiatives for fundamental reform of the economics curriculum, as do our post-Keynesian colleagues (Letters, 19 November). Heterodox economists, drawing on a range of theorists, including Keynes, Marx, Minsky and others, have consistently argued for greater pluralism in both economics curricula and economics research evaluation. We recognise the clear benefits of pluralism in economics: it encourages, by exposing them to alternative perspectives, the development of students’ critical thinking and judgment. Read more…
from Maria Alejandra Madi and the WEA Pedagogy Blog
In 2001 French economics students petitioned their professors for a more realistic and pluralist teaching of economics. Since then, several books have been written on how to teach pluralist economics, including John Groenewegen’s Teaching Pluralism in Economics (Edward Elgar, 2007); Edward Fullbrook’s Pluralist Economics (Zed, 2009) and Jack Reardon’s Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education (Routledge, 2009). A new journal exclusively devoted to discussing how to implement pluralism in the classroom – the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education – was founded by Jack Reardon. And several global organizations- the World Economic Association, the Association of Heterodox Economics, besides the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics, for example – have emphasized the need for changes in economics curriculum.
Considering this background, this blog welcomes all the attempts that emphasize the need for further changes in teaching economics.
The 2014 new title New Developments In Economic Education, edited by Franklin G. Mixon and Richard J. Cebula, offers the opportunity of reflecting on strategies for effectively and efficiently teaching economics at both undergraduate and post-graduate levels. Among the suggestions . . . read more
from The Guardian
The Post-Crash Economics Society at Manchester University. Photograph: Jon Super for the Guardian
from Peter Radford
Forgive me for my exasperation.
There are too many disparate efforts to rethink economics, conferences on this, and papers on that. I admire each and every one. I support whole heartedly any attempt to shake economics from its irrelevant torpor. But all this fractured effort is achieving nothing. It cannot succeed in the face of the depth of resistance in most university economics departments and the fear that academics seem to have of open action.
I can understand that many sympathetic academics may want to shun action, after all they have livelihoods at stake. But I ask: what is a career in economics worth if that economics is toxic? Those with the greatest stake in the subject are the students who have yet to choose which path to take. It is their action that needs to be facilitated and made secure.
For it is their open action that will change things. Read more…
from Lars Syll
The world has changed, the syllabus hasn’t – is it time to do something about it?
Rethinking Economics is a network of young economics students, thinkers and writers who are organising to create fresh economic narratives to challenge and enrich the predominant neoclassical narrative. Read more…
from David Ruccio
Last week in class, after explaining to students that graduate students in economics no longer study either the history of economic thought or economic history, they asked me if I thought, in the wake of the crash of 2007-08, the training of students in economics—at either the undergraduate or graduate levels—would change.
My answer was, “I don’t know. But, the last time ‘business as usual’ in economics was challenged, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was students in economics—at the University of Michigan and elsewhere—who were the ones to initiate the change.”
Undergraduates at Manchester University propose overhaul of orthodox teachings to embrace alternative theories
from today’s Guardian
Economics students aim to tear up free-market syllabusThe Post-Crash Economics Society at Manchester University. Photograph: Jon Super for the Guardian
Few mainstream economists predicted the global financial crash of 2008 and academics have been accused of acting as cheerleaders for the often labyrinthine financial models behind the crisis. Now a growing band of university students are plotting a quiet revolution against orthodox free-market teaching, arguing that alternative ways of thinking have been pushed to the margins.
Economics undergraduates at the University of Manchester have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society, which they hope will be copied by universities across the country. The organisers criticise university courses for doing little to explain why economists failed to warn about the global financial crisis and for having too heavy a focus on training students for City jobs. Read more…
This is a new post from Jack Reardon on the WEA Pedagogy Blog
It is a great privilege and a pleasure to be one of three editors of this pedagogy blog. Reforming economics education is my life’s work and I am honoured to work with committed individuals like Edward, Maria and Asad.
As an undergraduate I started as physics major and then switched to economics. I knew something was wrong with economics, but couldn’t put my finger on it at first. Physics, like most disciplines has its controversies and even ideologues, but I was not ready for the onslaught of fundamentalism mixed in with proselytization. Read more…
Students at the London School of Economics have organized for this coming a weekend a rather large 3-day conference on Rethinking Economics. I am posting below the conference agenda, not with the illusion that this event is within easy geographical reach of most of this blog’s readership, but rather as an example of the sort of initiative that economics students around the world can take and increasingly are taking.
Rethinking Economics: London
Fri 28th June – Sun 30th June, London School of Economics
a conference to demystify, diversify and reinvigorate economics for imaginative citizens, students, academics, and professionals, including those with no previous training in economics to launch a collaborative network of economic rethinkers
Book workshops now to avoid disappointment: http://www.rethinkecon.co.uk/#!tickets/c1tbo
To be opened by Read more…
The economics curriculum: towards a radical reformation
3d May – 31st May
- a World Economics Association Conference
- with Open Discussion Forum – http://curriculumconference2013.worldeconomicsassociation.org/
Papers Read more…
ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
INTRODUCED BY: Nikolovksi SECONDED BY: Goheen
A BILL TO:
ADVOCATE FOR THE DIVERSIFICATION OF THE CURRICULUM WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF ECONOMICS
THE ASSOCIATED STUDENTS OF MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY ENACT:
WHEREAS, Since the recent global financial crisis, there has been a heightened debate within academic circles about the varying methods of analyzing economic phenomena. The department of Economics at MSU teaches from a single theoretical framework, widely known as the neoclassical school. This framework is only one perspective among several others which are not taught, and only gives one way of trying to understand our economy; and,
WHEREAS, Economists espousing other theoretical frameworks have given insights into important economic phenomena which have drastic implications for economic policy. Some important analyses include alternative empirical work that consistently explains the process of economic growth and—what is connected—warnings of the global financial crisis prior to its precipitation. These frameworks of thought use completely different methods and assumptions then those that are taught here at MSU; and,
WHEREAS, Students taking Economics within MSU are unlikely to be aware of the debates that go on, because the vast majority of what they do as “economics” is in the form of math problems which takes the assumptions and method of the neoclassical framework as given. Also, because students are often not explicitly made aware of the method and assumptions that underlie the mathematical formalism that they use, there is an appearance of diversity in the topics within the curriculum (e.g. international economics, microeconomics, and macroeconomics). Students should be made aware that there is a basic unity in the methods of neoclassical economics in analyzing these different topics; therefore be it,
RESOLVED, That MSU’s Economics department diversify its curriculum to allow students to engage not only with neoclassical work, but also competing frameworks so that they may be aware of the debates that are going on.
A first recommendation includes giving more explicit recognition of thev underlying method and assumptions of the frameworks that are taught, as well as engaging with the original works of the foundations of the
different schools of economics (e.g. Adam Smith, David Ricardo, Alfred Marshall, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and Milton Friedman.)
Secondly, working away from using mathematical formalism as an end in itself but recognizing it as a secondary tool, and also allowing for critical and reflective thought through paper writing and in-class debate is also highly recommended.
from David Ruccio
Just this past semester, students in one of my classes wanted to know why they hadn’t been taught anything about economic methodology or the history of economic thought in any of the other courses they’d taken in economics.
from Merijn Knibbe
At this moment I’m using the work of Reinhart and Rogoff, “This time is different. Eight centuries of financial folly”.
1. To avoid a common misunderstanding: this book is not just about government debt – it is about how all kinds of debt again and again destabilized entire countries. And about the endemic vulnerability of monetary, debt based economies (no single emerging economy ever escaped a phase of default. Not one.). To quote Reinhart: Read more…
from David Ruccio
With all due respect to Mark Thoma, the introduction of market failures does not mean the teaching of principles of economics is not a problem.* It’s the least mainstream economists can due. But it’s not enough.
The way principles of economics gets taught, at Harvard Read more…
from David Ruccio
Issue #2 of The Occupy Harvard Crimson is now out.
The issue includes a variety of short essays about the occupation, including a piece by Wayne M. Langley, of SEIU Local 615, on higher education and another by Richard Wolff, a Harvard alumnus, based on the talk he gave at the occupation on 18 November.
This is from Langley: Read more…
from Merijn Knibbe
Have you ever wondered why an U-3 unemployment rate of 23% in Spain (and rising) and 18% in Greece (and rising) doesn’t seem to bother the European Central Bank (ECB)? I have. And it might have something to do with the kind of models the European Central Bank uses, like the ECB ‘New Area Wide Model” (NAWM), which does not include unemployment as a variable. It literally defines unemployment away. People using this model don’t see what happens to unemployment – and at the ECB they do use this model… And yes, these are the kind of models which people like Greg Mankiw sell to their students. Let’s take a look at this: Read more…
The following is from Harvard students’ http://anti-mankiw.blogspot.com
Students at Harvard University on Tuesday, November 1st walked out of Professor N. Gregory Mankiw’s Ec 10, “Principles of Economics” course, for two main reasons.
First, to declare their solidarity with the Occupy Wall Street Movement, and indeed, occupy movements currently happening all across the world. Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
Eleven ways to think like a post-crash economist
For the last fifty years economics as a profession has shown exceptional talent for self-promotion. Spurred on by self-delusion, it has persuaded the media to call its Bank of Sweden Prize a “Nobel Prize” and in the main has escaped ridicule even when, like Samuelson and Mankiw, it has represented its pursuits and achievements as resembling those of Newton and Einstein. This self-exaltation has in the main enabled its anti-scientific methodology to escape outside notice, with the result that the broader intellectual community has accepted economics’ self-assessment. But this was not always the case. Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
Part III – Newton, Mankiw and Einstein
If economics textbook authors placed education ahead of indoctrination, the epistemological role of their theory ahead of its ideological one, how might they proceed? Hugh Stretton’s Economics: A New Introduction  shows how it can be done. For example, look at how he introduces “efficiency”. Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
Yesterday I posted Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science
Part II – Mankiw’s use of emotionality and bullying
A major device which Mankiw and other textbook writers use in persuading the student to accept on faith their principles is to subtly yet forcibly bring emotionality into their presentation. Mainstream or neoclassical economics, especially in the last fifty years, has made a point of raising its flag over snow-white abstract nouns such as “rationality”, “choice”, “freedom”, “equity” and “efficiency”, whose meanings change with the wind and are bottom-heavy with emotion and so float like icebergs through public discussion. Read more…
from Edward Fullbrook
Thanks to Harvard students, Greg Mankiw’s approach to teaching economics was international news last week and continues to be so today. A couple of years ago I contributed a short essay, “Toxic Textbooks” to Jack Reardon’s The Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education. My essay’s paradigm of a toxic textbook is Mankiw’s Principles of Economics. Someone has suggested that I make the essay available online in the current flow of news on this overdue public controversy. So I am splitting the essay into four parts which will appear here this week on consecutive days beginning with this post.
Part I – Mankiw’s Neo-Platonism is anti-science
No discipline has ever experienced systemic failure on the scale that economics has today. Its fall from grace has been two-dimensional. Read more…