Econ4Future instead of business as usual!
Reforming economic education:
Call for change in the winter term 2020/21
In the coming winter term, hundreds of thousands of students in German-speaking countries alone will be attending introductory lectures in economics.
There, the subject is taught using globally standardized textbooks that have been already widely criticized long before 2020 as one-sided, scientifically outdated and blind to the complexity of real economic processes. In these lectures students will learn, for example, that economics is governed by quasi-natural laws and by utility-maximizing actors. The result is a harmonious market system that comprehensively ignores socio-ecological aspects.
Once again, the Corona crisis has accentuated the discrepancy between the standard curriculum and real-world economic processes. It has demonstrated that economics is always dependent on ecological and social foundations and democratic scopes of action. In this way the lockdown of the market economy has made its fundamental dependence on other economies such as public infrastructure, social solidarity and unpaid care work visible. Disadvantaged groups or regions have in particular been afflicted by the crises, revealing that well-being is still significantly influenced by origin, skin color and gender. The fact that environmental destruction makes societies more vulnerable to the emergence and spread of pandemics points to the indissoluble interdependence between economies and ecology.
Standard economic education does not address these realities at all or not adequately. Should the winter term proceed according to business as usual, it would prevent yet another generation of students from learning how to understand and cope with real-world economic problems – including those related to the coronavirus pandemic, systemic discrimination or the ongoing climate crisis. This kind of economic higher education is not sustainable! To overcome the multiple crises of our times, however, future-fit economists are urgently needed.
We therefore call on all those involved – teachers, students and decision-makers – to reform economic higher education in the winter term 2020/2021. The good news: it is feasible! There are numerous resources we can rely on:
Changig the Syllabus
There are now comprehensive collections of literature, didactic materials and best practice examples of pluralistic, socio-economic university teaching. We encourage lecturers to use them as inspiration for preparing their teaching.
After the last financial crisis students began to organize themselves institutionally as change agents. With the help of these structures, students and teachers can network and work together to bring about change in economic higher education.
Finally, there is a growing number of innovative educational programs, which proves that a transformation of economics higher education is essentially a question of pedagogical and political will. We call on faculty or university officials, as well as policy-makers to study these innovations and to implement reforms. Proposals in this regard have recently been put forward. It is past due to create the conditions for a long-term institutional change in economic education.
Support the Call