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Archive for January 19th, 2010

The front page of today’s Observer reaffirms Dean McGreevy’s decision to close ECOP (which, for the record, is not a mere “branch” of the economics department). The university’s academic council will discuss his recommendation on February 25th. First, the nuts and bolts:

The Department of Economics and Policy Studies will likely be dissolved by the beginning of the 2010-11 academic year…

The remaining economics department, the Department of Economics and Econometrics, will be renamed the Department of Economics…Some faculty members from Economics and Policy Studies will join the new department, but the new department will not be a combination of the two existing departments…

Other Economics and Policy Studies faculty “are going to find homes in other departments and other programs across campus,” […]

Economics and Policy Studies faculty members will continue to teach economics courses, McGreevy said.

Some gems from McGreevy follow, with my own sarcastic/half-baked replies.

The decision to dissolve Economics and Policy Studies was not an attempt to distance the University from alternative economic theories, [McGreevy] said.

Why bother distancing the university when soundproofing material is much cheaper?

“In the long run, we’re going to have more economic diversity, not less,” he said. “In the new Department of Economics, we’re going to want economic diversity.” […]

Diversity within a narrower methodological scope, of course.

“It seems almost unfair for them to sit there without a chance for growth. It’s better to integrate them into other units on campus.”

You mean the chance for growth that you denied when ECOP put in requests to hire new faculty? That chance?

“We’ll have better conversations when we don’t have these two departments,” he said. “At the level of the economics conversation, [Economics and Policy Studies professors] will be able to contribute more by moving to a different department.”

Conversations are always better when conducted with one’s self, in privacy.

“I am committed to building a mainstream economics department at Notre Dame, but it doesn’t have to be monolithic,” McGreevy said.

Just no heterodox folks.

Another misconception is that “only the Economics and Policy Studies group cares about Catholic social thought,” McGreevy said.

The ECOE profs care, but not enough to integrate it into their teaching.

Although he said he is not motivated by rankings, McGreevy said they have some merit. “I think it’s unacceptable for Notre Dame to have a major department ranked 109,” he said.

It will be easier once they shed the deadweight who publish in ignored and marginalized journals. Let’s ignore any sociological defects within the discipline. Nothing to see here, folks.

“It’s important to build up a mainstream economics department. Notre Dame suffers if we don’t have that.”

Students interested in non-mainstream responses to the crisis? We’re ok with letting them suffer.

Sarcasm aside, this decision is a poor one for the students at Notre Dame and weakens the discipline as a whole. Of course, there’s still time to lobby the Academic Council members. It’s not over until…

Update (1/20): Read a follow-up post on an ECOP professor’s response letter to this story here.

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