TEACHING ECONOMICS IN THE 21. CENTURY
The State of Research and Teaching and the Way Forward
Conference jointly organized by Arbeitskreis Politische Ökonomie (AK PolÖk), World Economics Association (WEA), Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik (Network Pluralist Economics), European Association for Evolutionary Political Economy (EAEPE), Institute for International Political Economy (IPE), Forschungsstelle für wissenschaftsbasierte gesellschaftliche Weiterentwicklung (FWGW) and Research Network Macroeconomics and Macroeconomic Policy (FMM)
Berlin School of Economics and Law
Hochschule für Wirtschaft und Recht, Berlin
26.-29. November 2015
Critics contend that economic research and teaching and economic policy advice continue to follow a neoclassical paradigm to the exclusion of competing approaches, despite the sobering experience of the financial crisis. Those who defend the neoclassical mainstream tend to point to cite more complex and advanced models in order to proof that the mainstream-models are not as biased and unrealistic as critics contend. However, the relevance of models is questionable, as long as they do not find their way into undergraduate textbooks and curricula for students of economics. After all, most students who are exposed to economics teaching leave university with undergraduate textbook knowledge and the restricted toolbox and hidden ideological bias contained in these textbooks. Where economics is taught at high school level, it is often a similarly biased and restricted body of knowledge, which is presented as “economics”. Therefore, the abovementioned associations are organizing a joint conference to analyse and to help modernize the prevailing textbook content. We want to start a fruitful dialog between authors and publishers of textbooks and teaching materials, researchers, teachers and students.
The focus will be on the following topics:
Pluralism of Theories
How many theories should a textbook present, and which theories should be chosen? How much focus should there be on the genesis of these theories? How much weight should e.g. be given to history of economic thought, economic history and the philosophy of science? How should a pluralistic textbook be organized?
Pluralism of Methods
Should model-based reasoning be presented as the gold standard of economics? Which qualitative methods could help improve our understanding of the (globalized) economy? How can qualitative methods be combined with quantitative ones in a fruitful way to analyze economic issues? Which models could be taught outside the paradigm of economies in equilibrium?
Pluralism of Disciplines
How interdisciplinary can or should a textbook be? How can the academic isolation of economics be overcome that has developed over many decades? Which roles should knowledge from other fields like sociology, law, political science, biology, and philosophy play in teaching economics?
Pluralism of Teaching Methods
Why do textbooks play such a dominant role? Should they? What are their goals and what are their limitations? Does the dominant role of some particular textbooks pose a problem? If it does, what should be done? How should alternative textbooks be structured and written? Which teaching materials are being used at school and in other non-academic contexts? How do these need to change?
The conference will approach these questions in a variety of formats. Participants are invited to present and discuss either contributions addressing specific narrow questions or position papers covering a whole range of issues. Authors of textbooks are invited to report on their experiences and results regarding the inclusion of pluralistic content. We would also like to involve students and teachers in a discussion of strategic perspectives. There will be space to present and discuss alternative curriculums. A wide variety of pluralist and heterodox textbooks will be on display at the venue of the conference.
Formally, submissions can consist of elaborated position papers or abstracts of at most 500 words. Accepted position papers will be circulated in advance to all conference participants. They may also be used as introductions and focal points of panel discussions. There is no requirement to submit a paper in order to participate at the conference.
The conference will be partly held in English and partly in German.
Invited keynote speakers include Robert Skidelsky of Jesus College and Jayati Gosh of the University of Cambridge (tbc). The conference will include a panel discussion with Peter Bofinger (University of Würzburg) on the status quo of teaching and textbooks at German-language universities.
We plan to publish the conference papers in book form. A long-term goal is to initiate the production of collectively written textbooks. We are considering awarding a prize with high public visibility to promote the production and use of alternative textbooks.