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Symposium 2013

The Future of Economics Teaching

The Challenge

Economists are asking the great questions that motivated the discipline when it began – questions of growth, distribution, behavior and instability. The field is booming in terms of methods. Field and lab experiments have been introduced and advances in empirical analysis allow policy interventions to be evaluated. Economics has never been more central to the discussion of the major policy issues that animate the public. But economists are in disrepute. And economics teaching is under pressure to change. There are three sources of pressure. The public, policy-makers and employers blame economists for complacency prior to the crisis. Some complain that the undergraduate curriculum is training candidates for admission to PhD programs and is too narrow and technical for the majority who will work in business and government. Students are forming new student societies to press for teaching more relevant to today’s serious economic problems. Teachers themselves feel the pressure from students. They are discomforted by the gap between what they teach and the last 3-decades of developments that frame their research, and are anxious about the potential of the new disruptive technology of MOOCs (massive open on-line courses).

How are we to teach economics as if the last three decades had happened? How can we update and redirect the entire paradigm – not just add missing material or replace outdated examples with new ones – in the light of recent developments in the economy and in economics? How should macroeconomics be taught after the events of 2008? How should the core of microeconomics teaching respond to the behavioral revolution and to the importance of strategic interaction, new developments in game theory and in contract theory? How can we use new learning technologies to help make economics problem and question-centered, and not tool-centered?

There is a need for a radical reform of the core curriculum in undergraduate economics. Whilst some in the profession argue for minor changes in the curriculum and are happy to celebrate the existing paradigm by bringing in new and eye-catching examples, others wish to make the undergraduate curriculum into a tournament between competing perspectives (with heterodox approaches brought in to compete with the orthodoxy). A third approach will could be to develop a new core curriculum centered on the important questions all students should be curious to answer that uses the best economic analysis available.

This session is part of the issue cluster "Fiscal and Financial Sustainability" and organized in cooperation with The Institute for New Economic Thinking.

    Solutions

    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Introduce new material to economics courses, including behavioural approaches

    Introduce new material to economics courses, including behavioural approaches

    Introduce new material to economics courses, including behavioural approaches

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Increase the relevance of basic economics courses

    Increase the relevance of basic economics courses

    Increase the relevance of basic economics courses

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Improve teaching methods to engage students of economics more effectively

    Improve teaching methods to engage students of economics more effectively

    Improve teaching methods to engage students of economics more effectively

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Solution
    Symposium 2013

    Reform the economics curriculum

    Reform the economics curriculum

    Reform the economics curriculum

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society

    Proposals

    Proposal
    Symposium 2013

    Teaching Microeconomics in the face of the behavioral revolution

    Standard economic theory maintains that individuals are perfectly rational, strictly selfish and have time-consistent preferences. Twenty years worth of research has shown that this is not (always) th ...

    Standard economic theory maintains that individuals are perfectly rational, strictly selfish and have time-consistent preferences. Twenty years worth of research has shown that this is not (always) the case, and that the departures from these behavioral assumptions can often be big: After a tough day, we may not have the willpower to exert self-control, and indulge in ice cream, beer or worse. Non-selfish individuals may contribute to public goods, may punish free-riders and thus also alter the strategic incentives of selfish individuals. Present-biased individuals may be willing to pay to constrain future choices because they know they may be more

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2013

    Giving students a voice in macroeconomic debates

    The core undergraduate courses in macroeconomics should grab the hearts and minds of students who have lived their teenage years through the biggest global financial crisis and recession since the Gre ...

    The core undergraduate courses in macroeconomics should grab the hearts and minds of students who have lived their teenage years through the biggest global financial crisis and recession since the Great Depression and who are witnessing the remarkable economic growth in China and India and its implications for the shift in world output toward Asia. Their macroeconomics courses should equip them with the facts, concepts and confidence to address questions like these: What explains the wealth and poverty of nations and people? Capitalism and innovation – what is the connection? How, why, and when does increased income enhance the quality

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society
    Proposal
    Symposium 2013

    A better interaction between contents, methods and ethics can improve our teaching of economics.

    The discipline of economics is well equipped today to be up to the task to address the challenges it has been asked to respond to. Among others, we have to transform the teaching of economics in vario ...

    The discipline of economics is well equipped today to be up to the task to address the challenges it has been asked to respond to. Among others, we have to transform the teaching of economics in various dimensions and this text is a contribution in that direction. We have today better tools and a better understanding of human behavior, and how it shapes and is shaped by institutions. On the other hand there are improvements on teaching methods and tools for the classroom we can bring to our curricula. Let me start with a statement: The methods we chose in

    Polity, Academia, Business, Civil Society