Call for a Pluralistic Teaching in Economics.

Mohsen Mahbob

We, students in economics from various horizons, would like to express once again our discontent with the way economics is taught in universities and other academic institutions.

For more than ten years now similar initiatives have been continuously publicized in several countries all around the world with no movement on the issue, thus underlining the pervasive nature of the problem and the on-going dismay with the lack of necessary change.

By choosing economics as our major we hoped to gain a better understanding of real economic mechanisms. We are saddened to recognize that this has not been the case at all: the most striking example of it being our incapacity to apprehend the current economic crisis with the analytic tools that we are taught. Far from making up for these flagrant loopholes, courses across the world have stubbornly remained almost the same. The crisis is not only one of the economy, it is also a crisis of economics and a crisis of our classrooms!

We thoroughly believe that our understanding of real socio-economic processes as well as our critical mind would greatly benefit from a more pluralistic teaching. For that purpose, we suggest to integrate more pluralism in our courses, on three different levels.

  1. Different paradigms, aside from the so called Neoclassical theory and its different ramifications, should be introduced thoroughly to the students as early as possible in order to allow cross-paradigmatic analyses and foster critical thinking.
  2. Reflexive disciplines such as epistemology, history of economic thought and social and economic history should acquire special importance in standard programs and not be considered as side and marginal.
  3. Discussions with other social and human sciences (sociology, anthropology, history, geography, philosophy…) should be more systematic and a possible way to do so would be to introduce thematic courses. The very objects of economics, such as unemployment, inequalities, consumption choices and others are inherently manifold and require a corresponding plural approach allowing for transversal investigations.

We do not reject the use of mathematics, formal models or statistical methods in economics. We simply first and foremost wish to be granted the chance to fully grasp the bases and stakes underlying our economic system.

We hereby call upon all our fellow students from all horizons and all academic levels sharing the same concerns and frustrations. We invite them to join us and to help us mobilize the broadest level of support in order to rethinking our discipline and the way it is currently taught and having pluralistic economics teaching in all higher education systems as soon as possible.

Students of PEPS-Économie (Pour un Enseignement Pluraliste dans le Supérieur en Économie / For a Pluralistic Teaching in Economics in Higher Education)

Reach them at [email protected]