Why do we need a “new normal?”
Most economics teaching is dominated by a single approach to thinking about economics, called neo-classical economics. This approach has many limitations in representing real-world economies as vividly illustrated in the fact that most economists did not see the 2008 Crash coming. Inspite of that there has been limited change over the last decade.
This also means that students end their studies only aware of one way of thinking about economics, which they are taught is ‘right’. They lack critical, creative and communication skills. They are stuck in the narrow box of neo-classical economics and cannot think outside it.
This group-think pervades policy, politics and the media which stifles policy reform.
There is a wide range of innovative teaching happening that recognises different approaches to thinking about economics. However this teaching has a limited profile and is often happening outside of the economics departments. It is seen as fringe if it is noticed at all.
How We Are Doing This
We established an international online dialogue on the requirements for pluralist economics teaching
- Phase I developed the broad approach on criteria, evidence and governance.
- Phase II to develop a detailed approach to accreditation of programmes.
We have used an online platform to establish high-level consensus, shared google docs and blogs to work through the detail, and Zoom meetings to discuss controversial issues.
You can see more detail about the co-design process here.
In late 2019 and early 2020, we were starting to pilot a peer review approach to accreditation of programmes. We had to pause this process due to the pressure on our collaborators in academia following the onset of the pandemic.
We have now restarted the process in a less onerous way given the ongoing challenging circumstances:
- encouraging university departments and others to publish information about how their masters programmes are pluralist via a relatively simple survey against the main 5 criteria themes below.
- seeking comments from current and past masters students on programmes to provide some validation; and
- promoting this information to under-graduates and others that are considering applying to masters programmes in the Spring.
This all will all be done on Your Priorities, the online platform we have already used successfully. We think this would be more practical as a next step given the increased time pressure on academics and the work involved in peer review.
We are working with student-led groups such as Rethinking Economics, Exploring Economics and the Network for Pluralist Economics to ensure this information gets attention from undergraduates in their final year when they are likely to be considering applying for 21/22 masters programmes. We will also do extensive targeted social media advertising.
Our Progress So Far
We have gathered many supporters and now have over 40 programmes posted on our platform that potentially take a pluralist approach to teaching economics.
We have co-created the broad principles and criteria for teaching economics from a pluralist perspective:
See here for full detailed criteria with translations into a range of languages
These are endorsed by the following key academic and student stakeholders:
We have developed proposals for assessment, compliance and learning and on governance.
We have also a more detailed approach to peer review for accreditation which we started to pilot before the pandemic struck.