Home > Economics Curriculum > Bad economics affects us all

Bad economics affects us all

from Lars Syll

Reform of economics teaching is resisted so strongly by mainstream economists because they find it threatening. It is like asking the medieval Catholic clergy to teach their new recruits different interpretations of Christianity, to stop teaching them exclusively in Latin and teach more in the local vernacular, and to encourage them to challenge the intellectual and the moral authority of the Holy See. No wonder it is so strongly resisted by most mainstream economists, even by those who claim to be interested in reform.

economistsBut what does this have to do with everyone outside the academic bubble? Why does it matter that those nerds doing economics degrees are made to jump through one set of hoops rather than another?

Reform of economics education is not just a matter for university economists. The current curriculum frustrates thousands of bright young students who started studying economics thinking that they would learn something useful for making the world a better place and find themselves learning an ersatz theory of “everything” instead. Cynicism about the purpose of economics leads some of the smartest students to careers in investment banking. For employers who recruit economists with first-class degrees, only to find that they possess very narrow skill sets, lack communication skills, and have little knowledge of real economies, the current curriculum hurts their bottom line.

Above all, the future of economics education is ultimately a matter for all of us, because what economists learn in their degree influences what they do later when they make important policy decisions that fundamentally affect our lives – financial deregulation, welfare cuts, gas prices, and healthcare reform. It is time that everyone gets involved in this debate.

Ha-Joon Chang & Jonathan Aldred

  1. May 14, 2014 at 6:18 pm

    Academia cares more about teaching something in an orderly and recognizable manner than it cares abut what it teaches. If one university taught economics with differential equations, another with graph theory, a third with large simulations like physics, and another place like a liberal art you’d be hard pressed to name what it means to be an economist. So some kind of core discipline is needed before these specialist approaches can flourish.

  2. Bruce E. Woych
    May 15, 2014 at 1:53 am

    ‘The IMF Hurts Poor People Worldwide:’ Students Nix IMF Chief’s Commencement Address
    By Eric Stoner, Waging Nonviolence

    International Monetary Fund managing director Christine Lagarde withdrew as the 2014 commencement speaker at Smith College after a petition opposing the decision gathered hundreds of signatures. READ MORE»http://www.alternet.org/activism/imf-hurts-poor-people-worldwide-students-nix-imf-chiefs-commencement-address?akid=11809.147584.-JK0vh&rd=1&src=newsletter992577&t=17…………………..
    “In The Body Economic, David Stuckler and Sanjay Basu marshal extensive that austerity isn’t just bad economic policy, it literally kills.”

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