Journal

Exploring Economics for the 21st Century: Bottom-up, open-access pluralist Economics Education Platform

Words by Hannah Dewhirst

Be part of the Change: Join the Crowdfunding Campaign for Pluralism in Economics until June, 4 2017.



We live in times of multiple and intersecting crises: Persistent global inequalities along the lines of nationality, class, race and gender that allow for simultaneous existence of extreme wealth, carbon-heavy lifestyles and unlimited mobility, while outrageous levels of poverty, hunger and disease persist. To make things even more serious, environmental destruction has reached exceptional dimensions, with temperature rising, extreme weather events spreading, desertification and biodiversity loss.

 

All these crises and injustices cannot be reduced to, but are deeply related to the economic systems – shaped by the policy makers of our society – which subordinate all other dimensions of life to the imperatives of growth.

 

What is taught and discussed in the economic courses of our universities shapes the mind of the next generation of decision-makers, and therefore partly shapes the societies we live in. And there is the problem: The way that economics is taught and practiced in schools, universities and policy-making institutions does not challenge any of these dogmas or more so address any of these problems: it is actually quite the opposite. The dominant school of thought in economics – neoclassical economics –  fosters a technocratic understanding of the economy and economic policy, treats nature as mere cost-factor rather than foundation of all economic activity, mostly ignores gender-issues beyond pay gaps, marginalizes questions of well-being, and lacks the conceptual ability to deal with human agency.

 

But shouldn’t the real world and the different theories, methods and perspectives be brought back into economic seminars, lectures and debates at the universities? Don’t we need a pluralist economics curriculum that includes a history of economic thought, interdisciplinary cooperation, an overview of schools of thought in economics, qualitative methods, analysis from different theoretical perspectives, philosophy of science?

 

Such change of the current state of economic thinking will create a space in which solutions to society’s problems can be found. Of course, there is no such thing as perfect answers and solutions, but economics students will profit from studying and discussing all the different perspectives and views in order to reinforce and accelerate the year-long debate on the state of economics. And that is why we initiated the digital learning platform Exploring Economics.

 

 

Exploring Economics is a project initiated by the Network for Pluralist Economics, a friend of Rethinking Economics,  from students and young scholars for students, lecturers and the broader public. Its bottom-up-approach is unique within the digital landscape of economic teaching. Exploring Economics aims to enrich economic teaching as well as to promote self-criticism, reflection and openness within economics. The platform offers the opportunity to discover and study a variety of economic theories, topics and methods. It is an alternative to neoclassical teaching at our universities. Thus, enabling a creative analysis of economic issues such as inequality, financial crises, money and debt, as well as the environment and resources.

 

And that is the big advantage of the platform: it is not only accessible anywhere in the world, it also offers online education that is free of charge. The material can be re-used in teaching use as it is offered under the Creative Commons-license. Moreover, you don’t need a degree or previous knowledge to follow a course, only the willingness sand interest to learn more about the different perspectives of economics.

 

Anyone can participate, study and be part of the change! Besides, participants can help and support us in adding new material ranging from self-written essays or recommendations of books and lectures. Exploring Economics brings people together – students and lecturers – from all over the world!

 

Since the launch of Exploring Economics in December 2016, we had positive results: more than 102,000 page views  and visitors from over 165 countries. We also received a lot of positive feedback from many students, teachers and professors worldwide:

 

“I just checked out the website! What a wonderful and much needed source of information! I cannot wait for the world of eager learners to discover you! Let’s break the chains of “one-solution-fits all” approach in economics! Greetings from Bosnia!” Samira Nuhanovic, Director, Mosaik Foundation

 

“Exploring Economics offers what we need in our discipline today: a review of a broad range of economic schools of thought. We need pluralism.” Shailaja Fennell, Director of Research, University of Cambridge

 

“Exploring Economics is one of the very best initiatives of the pluralism in economics movement.” Professor Steve Keen, Kingston University London

 

Now, we are crowdfunding for Exploring Economics in order to realize the many plans we have for the coming months. We want to offer more writing workshops for students and young scholars, integrate new materials and courses into the website and expand our partnerships with universities.

 

Join our crowdfunding campaign which runs until to June, 4 2017!

 

Be part of  #changeEconomics:

 

  • Donate and convince three friends to donate, too. 
  • Share the campaign via your social media, newsletters, mailing lists or in your blog.

 

With your help we can reach more students, lecturers and interested people in order to, eventually, change economics’ thinking where the real world challenges are brought back into the discussions in the classrooms and society!

 

About the author

Lisa Weinhold is a board member of the German speaking Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.). She just finished her Master’s Degree in International Relations majoring in Global Political Economy. She advocates for pluralism in Economics because reality and human actions matter more than models! To drop her a message contact her via  l.weinhold@plurale-oekonomik.de

 

About the Network for Pluralist Economics and Rethinking Economics UK

 

The Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.) is a sister organisation of Rethinking Economics. We are active in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany and have in total 30 groups. Together with RE and many other groups around the world, we founded ISIPE, the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics. We very much enjoy the good cooperation with Rethinking, be it for conferences, festivals, public relations work, or contact to speakers.

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