Archive for December 12th, 2009

The New York Times describes classes around the country, at universities such as Cornell, Columbia, and Vassar, that are probing the economic crisis. The approaches are diverse:

Steven Fraser, a professor of American studies at Columbia University, has taught the cultural history of Wall Street for years, usually bringing his students up to the 1990s. But this fall, with thefinancial crisis providing an irresistible new coda to the course, he extended the timeline to include the drama, intrigue and pain of the past two years…

“The class is struck by the similarities between today and the darker periods of Wall Street’s past, for example in the Gilded Age” …

Sidney Plotkin, a professor of political science at Vassar College, has taught “Power and Public Policy” in one iteration or another for more than 30 years. But last month he began a new section of the course by exploring the housing bubble and Bernard L. Madoff, consumer borrowing and federal bailouts — and shining a Marxist light on the whole morass.

“Marx is the uninvited guest in the discussion,” Dr. Plotkin told the group of undergraduates assembled in Rockefeller Hall. “By looking at the financial crisis through the lens of a Marxist analysis, we begin to see how the American debate about power is shaped by Marxism.”

As for the students?

For students, taking a class that probes the gyrations of the economy — even through the prism of Marx — forces them to keep up with current events…

Although students may be energized by the relevance and immediacy of the subject, Dr. Plotkin detects a growing cynicism as well.

Meanwhile, ND is deciding behind closed doors to evict Marx, Minksy, and any other non-mainstream economics from the classroom. Thus, a generation of students will miss out on alternative perspectives and for those who might pursue economics as their own career, will be pigeon-holed into the mainstream- truly a liberal arts approach.

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