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Archive for September 17th, 2009

David Glenn of the Chronicle of Higher Education has a lengthy piece on the closing of the Department of Economics and Policy Studies. Much of the material will be familiar to readers of this blog. However, we did learn a couple things from Dean McGreevy. First, he would prefer if ECOP went quietly into the night, with little fanfar:

The formal dissolution of the department would require approval from the university’s Academic Council, a 51-member body that is partly elected by the faculty and partly appointed by the administration.Mr. McGreevy says that he has no timetable for bringing such a resolution before the council. He suggested that he would like to find new homes for the department’s faculty members before he makes that move.

As for the teaching of intro courses (the trends of which are analyzed here), McGreevy admits that intro classes will be solely taught by mainstream folks.

But they will no longer teach any of the major introductory or intermediate economics courses, a prospect that makes Mr. Ruccio despair.

Critical engagement with economic thought is necessary from a very early point. I was lucky to have Prof. Warlick, who is quoted in the article, as my professor for Intro to Micro. She encouraged us to think about problems with the assumptions we were learning and not just accept what we learned as fact (and remember, she considers herself a neoclassical economist). A number of the students and alumni in this movement had David Ruccio for that class, and became open to alternative theories in large part because of that. As Ruccio points out,

“When we are no longer in the core of the economics curriculum, students are not going to be getting these diverse perspectives,” Mr. Ruccio says. “And what that means is that nonmainstream ideas, openness to a variety of traditions, are no longer going to be central.”

Alternatives will be a mere afterthought.

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