Edited by Jesper Jespersen and Mogens Ove Madsen
Chapter 5: Pluralism in economics education
This paper, originally the introduction to a special issue of the International Review of Economics Education (IREE, Volume 8, Issue 2), attempts to establish a framework for the discussion of the topic of the special issue, “pluralism in economics undergraduate education”. The first section identifies economics as a plural discipline taught monistically: there are many economics, but, by and large, the teaching of economics reflects the dominant paradigm and identifies that with economics per se. The suggestion that economics pedagogy should reflect the plural character of the discipline immediately raises the issue of quality; it is argued that this has to be confronted. The paper then turns to a definition of two grades of pluralism – permissive pluralism, involving a recognition of academic freedom, and a more student-centred assertive pluralism. Subsequent sections address why and how we might move towards pluralism in economics education. It is argued that pluralist education enjoys a natural advantage over current pedagogy in underpinning citizenship, equipping students to become productive employees, preparing students for further study in the area, and in having fun. It is argued that the key to founding a pluralist curriculum is history – both the history of economic thought and the history of the economy. A final substantive section addresses the important issue of subject benchmarking, specifically in relation to the subject benchmark statement for economics established in the UK by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA).
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