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Enriching undergraduate economics: curricular and pedagogical integration of heterodox approaches from within

Tara Natarajan

Keywords: undergraduate economics; heterodox economics; integration; curriculum; rigor; broadening economic education; non-divisive; pedagogy

In exploring the importance of integrating heterodox economics into undergraduate economic education this article justifies taking an approach that is both non-divisive and programmatically integrative in a department in order to have an enduring curricular and institutional impact. Critiques of mainstream economics commonly pertain to the inherent narrowness of thought, concomitant methodology, methods, and practice. The author therefore focuses on both pedagogy and curriculum to argue for an approach that (a) methodically broadens the content of core courses while maintaining common departmental curricular goals, (b) develops a variety of conceptually strong upper-level heterodox field courses, and (c) prepares students to explore a diversity of topics for senior theses using relevant heterodox methodologies. Taking a consciously non-divisive and integrative approach that seeks to methodically broaden economic thought and practice by focusing on overall programmatic integration helps to build bridges both within one's department and more broadly in the discipline. This paper uses a curricular map and examples from the author's course content to illustrate integrating heterodox economics into an existing program. The final section provides examples from student research in economics that have made use of non-reductionist methodologies. While making observations about constraints in sustaining such an approach, the paper strongly argues that there is a greater possibility of creating a stronger identity for heterodox approaches with conceptual rigor, if developed not in deliberate opposition to the mainstream or any other approach.

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