Home > economics profession, students > The Department of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame has been officially dissolved.

The Department of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame has been officially dissolved.

from David Ruccio

It’s done! The Department of Economics and Policy Studies at the University of Notre Dame has been officially dissolved.

On 25 February, the Academic Council approved the dean’s proposal to eliminate ECOP and to rename the remaining department the Department of Economics. Now, the members of ECOP need to find positions for themselves elsewhere in the university—or to leave the university entirely. There will be no place for them in the other department. 

I don’t have any other details—about the discussion at the Academic Council or the vote. What I do know is that serious questions were raised about the proposal and the process by the Faculty Senate, by the student government, and at the College Council meeting where the proposal was presented. All those concerns were simply ignored. (Nick Krafft describes how stunned he was in reading the dean’s latest comments about students’ needing “to take charge of their education.”)

Readers should know that the implications of the decision are much broader than the fate of ECOP faculty. It shows how university governance has dramatically changed, at Notre Dame and elsewhere, in undermining faculty and student input. The basic idea is, they should shut up and tend to their “own affairs” (teaching, churning out publications, and studying) and let the administration go about its work in remaking the university. It also shows how closed the discipline of economics remains—even after the crises of capitalism that have called into question every facet and dimension of mainstream economics, from basic theory to policy recommendations. Finally, it shows how fragile and threatened academic freedom is, at Notre Dame and throughout higher education in the United States.

  1. Alice
    March 9, 2010 at 6:16 am

    What else would we expect from a private university.

    Dont ask questions. Dont go poking your nose into government policy.

  2. Alice
    March 9, 2010 at 6:27 am

    Academic freedom and freedom of thought and freedom of inquiry and freedom of knowledge was always a pure public good.
    Lets not forget who once owned Bond University – he ended up in jail.

  3. Berry
    March 10, 2010 at 3:45 pm

    Or perhaps it is recognition that economics as a field (in it’s current state of fantasy) is no more valid than astrology and has no place in the university curriculum. Now if they can just get rid of the department of economics also…. or make make all the econ profs take 3 or 4 basic classes in physics and environmental science before they are allowed to teach another day….

  4. Eric
    March 10, 2010 at 10:11 pm

    Wow, “Berry”. It’s amazing that you go to economics websites when you believe that it’s fantasy… seems like you need a life; and if you knew anything about economics, you would get that physics is not related to economics and that environmental sciences are directly a result of economic application- in the form of environmental natural resource econ. Ever heard of sustainable activity (or resource sustainability)? THAT’S AN ECONOMIC PRINCIPLE! It’s not just money, moron! Econ is vital in any business and socially responsible curriculum. It’s a shame that Notre Dame has decided to do this.

  5. NickB
    March 11, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Would that be the same economics that posits production functions that are inconsistent with the laws of thermodynamics? And says that economies grow all by themselves because of undefined “technological progress” parameters? The entire physical universe is *by definition* subject to physical law, so that includes economies as well. Ecological economists have thoroughly debunked this nonsense – a shame they needed to do it, a shame that conventional economics does not listen to reason. And shame on Notre Dame university for this thoughtless act of bureacratic fascism.

  6. March 11, 2010 at 8:08 pm


    This is depressing news for the reasons you point out. I fear for the quality and diversity of learning that the students at Notre Dame are now exposed to. I agree that the decision also has deep meaning for academic freedom, not just at ND but elsewhere as well.
    All I can say is that we should take up the cause of pluralism with more energy and vitality to prevent more acts of this nature; and, eventually, to roll back the tide of suppression of thought inherent within it.
    Finally I hope that the voices of all the faculty of that department will not be lost to the greater conversation we are trying to foster.

  7. Gilles Raveaud
    March 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    Dear David,

    Thank you very much for this post. Have you had more infos on this topic since? Or can anyone visiting this page tell us more about the reasons for this closure, the recations of the students, etc.? Any article published in the educational media?

    This is of high interest to all economists.

    Gilles Raveaud (member of the newly created French Association for Political Economy: http://www.assoeconomiepolitique.org/

    • David Ruccio
      March 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

      Dear Gilles,

      Thanks for your interest.

      The only news is that the department will be closed on 1 July and the remaining faculty members are being asked to sign individual Memoranda of Understanding to be reassigned elsewhere in the university. (We received letters guaranteeing our tenure in the college when the university administration created a second department of economics in 2003. That department, which will be renamed the Department of Economics on 1 July, has had control of the Ph.D. program and all new hires since 2003.) You can find more information on my blog: http://anticap.wordpress.com/?s=official-update.

      Students, both current and alumni, were unusually upset about the decision. You can find more information here (http://anticap.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/it%E2%80%99s-official-update-17/) and here (http://openeconomicsnd.wordpress.com/economics-at-notre-dame/).

      Unfortunately, I am not aware of any articles on the topic in the general media. It seems to have been treated as a minor, internal matter instead of a topic of general interest.

  8. Michael Meeropol
    April 1, 2010 at 3:14 pm


    Maybe the rest of us can make sure it gets treated in National Publications — I remember signing a petition against the creation of a “mathematically rigorous Econ Dept which would control the Ph D program” back in the early years of the decade.

    How about a new petition.

    I’d sign — I’d circulate it — and I bet we could get some national attention.

    Mike Meeropol

  9. rushcocoa
    April 22, 2010 at 5:59 pm

    While I was unaware of that department, after a trip to the university’s website, it looks like a terrific program.

    I’m convinced that a great deal of my views on economics are a result of being raised with catholic values & in the church.

  10. Tony Tarrega
    June 10, 2010 at 8:55 am

    Any economist looking for work? Please contact me

  11. Ayne Eylk
    July 5, 2010 at 1:14 pm

    Hate to say it, but from an evolutionary perspective, heterodox is dying out. We need to adapt or fall into irrelevance like this department.

  12. John Blume
    July 7, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Rubbish! Heterodoxy in all its forms has been at the forefront of science for hundreds of years. I implore you all to read what is probably the most important and insightful piece I have read (aside from the musings here, of course). See

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