Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Failing grade for econ courses

From Remapping Debate:
"Until the 1980s, undergraduate students in economics were generally required to take a course in economic history or the history of economic thought, or both. Over the last twenty years, however, those requirements have been dropped from the curriculum in nearly all undergraduate programs, and even many graduate programs do not require them.
This ahistorical view of economics, according to David Ruccio of Notre Dame, deprives students of fundamental knowledge about the field they are studying and how it has developed. “The implication for students is that what exists now has always existed and will always exist,” he said. “It allows for the impression that there is only one perspective on economics and ignores the multiplicity of perspectives that have existed and exist today.”
Julie Nelson, chair of the economics department at the University of Massachusetts Boston, agreed. “Not having those courses removes the context from the theories and makes them seem like they’re divinely ordained,” she said. “There’s no sense that economics is created by people.”
According to Frederic Lee of the University of Missouri–Kansas City, “if you were actually teaching them about the economy, you might have to talk about the rise of capitalism and the industrial revolution,” he said. “You’d need to talk about American history and the plantation economy and the attack on workers in the 1880s and the Great Depression and the military–industrial complex and the Cold War. These are just some examples to illustrate that without the history we have no place to understand what we mean by capitalism, which is essentially what they’re studying.”
Of course there are a few oases in the profession.

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