These draft criteria are based on the online dialogue and zoom discussions.
Each has 3 parts:
- A broad principle based criterion to avoid being too prescriptive and limiting on innovation and practice;
- The rationale for the choice; and
- Some illustrations of what the application of the criterion might mean both in terms of what we might expect to see (✔ ) and not to see (×). We hope this serves to better explain the criterion in practice. We would expect some sort of body, with diverse representation, to make final assessments, but we will explore how this might work in further dialogues.
We would very much appreciate comments on them prior to creating a questionnaire to get wider responses to each criteria.
1. Recognition of the existence and potential value of a range of different perspectives from economics and other disciplines for understanding economic related issues.
Rationale: This is the core value of those who take a pluralist approach to understanding the economy.
2. Incorporation of a reasonable breadth of perspectives into the curriculum with an expectation of at least three such perspectives.
✔ This pluralist and interdisciplinary perspective is explicitly set out as the context for the programme
✔ Reading lists include authors from different schools of thought in economics and from other disciplines.
× All approaches to understanding economic related issues are treated as equally valid in all circumstances (ie “anything goes”).
× The term ‘economics’ is used as if there was a unified single methodological approach to understanding economic related issues.
Rationale: This is crucial to ensure pluralism is genuine and not tokenistic.
✔ Perspectives covered include equilibrium and non-equilibrium approaches, individualist and social assumptions and different ethical perspectives.
× All perspectives covered focus on individual decision making (e.g. neo-classical, game theory and behavioral economics) and ignore social dimensions.
× Perspectives are mostly taught in silos without identifying key interactions between them.
3. Economic perspectives are taught within a historical context exploring the interaction with economic, political and social history.
Rationale: This will ensure a broad overview of economic thinking including neo-classical thinking but always put in a wider context rather than being taught as a stand-alone objective science.
✔ Economic masters programmes include a required unit on the history of economic thought.
✔ Interdisciplinary masters programmes include in a required unit or units, an introductory session or sessions on the history of economic thought.
× Neo-classical economics is presented as an objective science that supersedes previous perspectives.
4. Economic perspectives taught include viewing economic systems as subsystems of ecological systems.
Rationale: Given the current ecological crisis, this should be an essential element of teaching.
✔ Ecological economics perspectives are included in required units within the programme.
× The environment is only treated as an input to and a sink for economic systems.
5. Teaching should embed discussion of theory in richly described real-world issues from diverse situations.
Rationale: Economics has sometimes fitted data, often of questionable quality, to theories.
✔ Teaching explores theories in the context of what evidence proves and disproves them including recognising where theories have been disproved or are tautologist.
✔ Emphasis is put more on inductive than deductive reasoning and in the latter case a range of starting assumptions are explored.
✔ Important links between economic, social and political spheres are not ignored (e.g. inequality or conditioning from advertising) and a systemic analytical approach is taken.
✔ Perspectives and issues from the North and South, and different races, social classes etc are included.
× Real world examples are chosen on the basis that they are the best fit to theories.
6. Teaching should explore and support understanding of the limitations and embedded values of a range of sources of evidence including but not limited to data
Rationale: Economics can a narrow range of evidence ignoring qualitative evidence and results from other disciplines. Data often has theories embedded in them.
7. Teaching should promote active learning encouraging honest and open reflection on and critique of assumptions and values underlying different perspectives on economic issues (including the lecturer’s and students’)
✔ the definitions of key data, such as unemployment, GDP, price indices and poverty are discussed, and controversial aspects highlighted.
✔ Qualitative evidence is included as a valid source.
✔ Representations and interpretations of the economy are made explicit and questioned.
× Data is presented as if it is objective without any discussion of its sources or the underlying representations and interpretations.
× Qualitative evidence is ignored.
Rationale: Critical awareness and creative development of economic perspectives are essential for economic learning both professionally and personally.
✔ Exploration of the implications of different objectives for economic policy (e.g. minimising environmental impacts vs maximising GDP vs promoting equality).
✔ Examining what policy directions emerge from using different economic perspectives to address real world issues.
✔ Engagement with the economic perspectives of diverse communities e.g. through placements in companies, NGOs and community groups.
✔ Exploration of the impact of background, influences and values on what economic perspectives individuals and groups take (e.g. the echo chamber effect).
✔ Include exercises to support reflection on the impact of different perspectives, biases and assumptions such as serious games and role playing.
✔ Support students to diversity the range of sources they use for learning and build their ability to learn to learn.
× Programmes only involve lecture programmes supporting passive learning.
8. The department(s) providing the programme(s) are committed to continue building their capacity and culture to support a pluralist approach to teaching about the economy.
Rationale: Pluralism and interdisciplinarity practice requires ongoing development and support
✔ Departments have a professional development programme to support pluralism and interdisciplinarity.
✔ Departments have a recruitment strategy to build the range of their expertise.
✔ Departments encourage interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary dialogues building relationships across departments and with communities outside the university.
× Departments are only focused on their own discipline’s research.
So are any criteria missing? Could we word them better? Can you think of better illustrations…..? Add you thoughts below.