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ERIC Number: EJ861156
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 8
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 5
ISSN: ISSN-0024-1822
The Economics Major and Liberal Education
Colander, David; McGoldrick, KimMarie
Liberal Education, v95 n2 p22-29 Spr 2009
In order to enhance economic education in ways that are consistent with the liberal education perspective, the catalyst function of education needs to be supported more fully. The content of what is taught will, and should, be determined by individual professors and schools. Ideally, the "right" content will be taught passionately. But this is unlikely at present, if the goal is to prepare liberally educated students. The current structure of graduate programs and of colleges and universities themselves ensures that the content taught with passion is driven by narrow research interests rather than by general teaching priorities. Only major institutional change at both the graduate and undergraduate levels can affect that. In the absence of such major institutional change, marginal improvements can be made by modifying incentives and institutions so that more emphasis is placed on pedagogy and teaching. While there is no one set of "best practices" in economics pedagogy that are especially suitable for a liberal education, there are better and worse practices. Such practices should be an important part of the regular discussion at any college or university. The authors contend that if the economics major is to make the best possible contribution to the liberal education of undergraduate students, then much more discussion is needed about the content and focus of the economics major as well as how that content is taught. Positive change in any discipline does not come from the top down; it comes from the bottom up, and major change builds on the initiatives of individual schools. This article aims to open up a conversation, rather than to generate a set of specific recommendations. There are many ways in which the economics major can contribute to the liberal education of students. Thus, there are many ways in which the major can be structured to promote this objective. But the best economics major will not develop from bottom-up discussion unless departments are sufficiently concerned about the major and have appropriate incentives to ensure it contributes in the best way possible.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Higher Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A