Friday, May 13, 2016

Peter Dorman — Issues with Econ 101 at Three Levels

The debate about what’s right/wrong with introductory economics, which has raged intermittently since the financial crisis, is back again (here, here and here). I’m preparing a paper on this topic for a conference this summer, so it’s been on my mind. Here is a structuring proposal…
Generally speaking, course planning begins with objectives, which can be thought of that which the student takes away from the course that will be useful in life as well as specifically with respect to the subject matter of the course.

In Phil 101 there are two major objectives:

1. Introducing the key fundamentals of critical thinking in general through introductory logic.

2. Demonstrating the importance of informed debate in a liberal society using issues of current interest as well as the enduring questions that continue to debated after millennia, based on arguments of the foremost thinkers.

In the most general sense, the overall purpose is showing students what Socrates meant by "the unexamined life is not worth the living" as the basis of liberal education and liberal society, in terms of the ongoing quest to answer the foundational question about what it means to life a good life in a good society.

The purpose of Phil 101 is not advocate for any particular position or point of view, but rather to teach a method of inquiry and to introduce students to key issues that are fundamental to a mature approach to life.

Phil 101 also assumes that this is the only course in philosophy that most students will be exposed to, so preparing students for advanced study in the field is not an objective. However, Phil 101 is a sine qua non for subsequent study of philosophy, which is thinking critically about fundamental questions.

What about Econ 101?

Issues with Econ 101 at Three Levels
Peter Dorman | Professor of Political Economy, The Evergreen State College

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