Economics education and pluralism

 As John Kenneth Galbraith pointed out economics is overwhelmed by an ‘uncorrected obsolescence.’ The target of economics education is the comprehension of the reality in its economic dimension, that is to say, the understanding of those practices and ideas that support the evolution of material life and the provision of human needs.

In the post-war period, economics was broadly understood as economic science, that is to say, as a specific area of the development of human knowledge. In this context, the mainstream-heterodox controversies overwhelmed the economic organization and welfare distribution issues. After the 1970s, however, the perspectives on economics education revealed a deep crisis of post-war institutions. In truth, the main challenge to economics education has been the understanding of changing economic realities. In the current scenario, pluralist economics education has been overwhelmed by the attempt to apprehend the complexity of the real-world.

Economics education should take into consideration history, quantitative methods and the awareness of diverse schools of thought within economics. The nuclear idea of the economics curriculum should be to assure the accomplishment of three purposes: pluralism, solid theoretical foundations and commitment to reality.  Such pluralism should be aware of the limitation of the universality of economic laws. Economists would be apt to the recognition of situations that configure singularities and, therefore, to the establishment of specific forms of intervention that would affect economic and social relations. The emphasis should be centered on the social, cultural and political restrictions to the objectivity of economic laws. Indeed, this attempt points out to a pluralism founded on history.

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1 comment
  1. Bruce E. Woych said:

    Excellent summary !! While there may be a good deal of head nodding, the facts that you so clearly lay out as the critical reality is not a “big seller” in economics…which tends towards the business interest with a fixed gravity.

    The outline you are suggesting is the real potential for a measured empiricism that has credibility in both real time and in (truthful) relation to history. Unfortunately Economics tends to read history as if it were a totem pole of ancestral worship and rationalizations that appropriate these views. As such it often fails blatantly as a guideline for assessing proper critical context and subsequent models of corrective direct engagement with a dynamic social and political translation of realities, as they emerge and develop into complexity (as well as break down with entropy, displacement or resource distress and/or depletion. In short, it is not equipped to correct the power domains of social economics and the political elements that emerge to protect them. Instead, it works to accommodate the status quo with theories that legitimate and justify the “realities’ that are ‘selectively’ *(and electively) preferred and places these under a banner of ‘collective’ consensus and path accuracy (rather than dependance) becomes the rule.

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