Alfred Marshall wrote in his Principles of Economics that “economic conditions are constantly changing, and each generation looks at its own problems in its own way” (1920, p. v.). Our generation is confronted with many problems including climate change, environmental damage, disruptive innovations, inequality, indebtedness, youth unemployment, besides a health care crisis. At the center of these problems, however, is the discipline of economics itself and economics education.
The mathematization of economics was done in the name of science, but in doing so, the mainstream of the academic community has renounced its claim to studying the actual economy. In this respect, it is worth remembering Keynes’ critique of the behaviour of pofessional economists at his time since his words are more valuable than ever,
For professional economists…were apparently unmoved by the lack of correspondence between the results of their theory and the facts of observation;– a discrepancy which the ordinary man has not failed to observe, with the result of his growing unwillingness to accord to economists that measure of respect which he gives to other…scientists whose theoretical results are confirmed by observation when they are applied to the facts (Keynes, 1936, The General Theory of Employment)
Since the French students’ petition in 2001, several books have been written on how to teach pluralist economics, including John Groenewegen’s Teaching Pluralism in Economics (2007); Edward Fullbrook’s Pluralist Economics (2009); Jack Reardon’s Handbook of Pluralist Economics Education (2009), and the WEA Conference book The economics curriculum: towards a radical reformulation (2014), among other relevant contributions. To spread the discussion on how to implement pluralism in the classroom, the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education and the WEA Pedagogy Blog have been launched. And several global organizations- the Association of Heterodox Economics and the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics, for example, have emphasized the need for pluralism.
Considering this background, the publication of Introducing a New Economics: Pluralist, Sustainable & Progressive (Pluto Press, 2017) is welcome.
The authors – Jack Reardon, Maria Alejandra Madi and Molly S. Catto – demand that the real world should be brought back into the classroom in order to most effectively confront current crises. Indeed, with a firm commitment to theoretical, methodological, and disciplinary pluralism, the authors challenge the institutional education hegemony head on. They believe that economics must play a central role in not only conceptualizing the problems of our generation but also in articulating solutions.
The textbook Introducing a New Economics calls for a rejection of the narrow curricula and the lack of intellectual diversity that characterize mainstream economics. The authors believe that economics must be re-conceptualized to focus on three elements:
- One, economics must comport with sustainability. As they explain in the text, many definitions of sustainability exist, nevertheless, a central element uniting the disparate definitions is an ethical concern for the future.
- Second, economics must become pluralist, which along with sustainability is another multi-faceted and complex word. Pluralism -understood as respect for different and opposing views- is necessary since there are myriad ways of conceptualizing problems and no one view has a monopoly of understanding.
- Third, economics must concern itself with justice. Our future is uncertain which requires an economics education that is open-minded and help students to conceptualize and design a more equitable economic system that can provision for all.
Visit Pluto Press webiste https://www.plutobooks.com/9780745334882/introducing-a-new-economics/