When you are looking into different course options for economic majors you might notice that in some universities, the diversity of topics might be a little low.
Sure most universities offer macroeconomics, microeconomics, and econometrics, but how many offers classes on the institutionalists theories of economics or a developmental school of thought?
There is a growing concern by economics majors that universities tend to focus on a singular point of view of economics instead of realizing how diverse and ever-changing the field can truly be.
There are over seven major schools of knowledge in economics. The diversity in theories and economic practice is not reflected by the topics covered in university courses.
Undergraduates are mostly taught about neoclassical economic theory and graduate without understanding the benefits of diversity in other theories and schools of thought.
Some of the strongest critiques on the one-sided sources of knowledge are the following:
  • Colleges focus too much on the neoclassical school of economic thought;
  • There is little to no focus on the ethical considerations and effects of the economic policies taught; and
  • There is only slight importance on the historical developments that lead up to the formation of different schools of thought. A student should learn why some economic policies are no longer enacted and what major historic events lead to the changes.
In an ever-changing and diverse world, there should be bountiful sources of knowledge. There shouldn’t be blanket statements used to explain economics because it is a subject that is affected by so many different factors in the environment and society in which it is studied.
This is why it is so crucial for students to really delve deep into multiple schools of thought.
The same way that a university focuses on diverse recruitment of students, they should also pay attention to recruiting faculty that understands the importance of the inclusiveness of multiple sources of knowledge.

Possible Alternatives for Sources of Knowledge

A call for diversity has been heard throughout campuses in the US. But it is not simply the call for diverse students and staff, it is also a call for diversity of the sources of information.
Most US schools tend to focus on Westernised sources of knowledge. This gives students the idea that certain fields are one dimensional, instead of teaching them about more well-rounded points of view.
diverse sources of knowledge
Using a variation in the sources of knowledge allow for a more well-rounded education. (Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash)
A department of economics in a university can expand their sources of knowledge by going past the basic theories of neoclassical economics. Studying economic history, looking into behavioral economics, and developing research centers that analyze varied data, are all adjustments that economics faculty can take in order to open the minds of their scholars and fellows.
Each of the 197 countries in the world has different economic systems. Some very similar to others and some very different from the rest of the world. No matter the main kind of economic system used, there is always some influence from other schools of thought.
This is why it is so important for students to understand different schools of thought for economics and understand how to implement economic analysis on a variety of data points.
If you are looking to be a well-rounded and multidimensional economist, make sure to ask about developmental, Marxian, and Keynesian economics.
In order to become a great economist, it is crucial that you understand different points of view. This will make you an admirable economist and an even better candidate for a job after graduation. Employers look for students that are able to think outside of the box when dealing with complicated issues.
If you have a broad understanding of different economic policy and economic research you will be more equipped to dealing with analyzing the data of a more diversified caliber.

Different Schools of Economic Thought

One of the reasons that there seems to be so little diversity in the sources of knowledge for economic teaching is that most universities focus on teaching only classical or neoclassical schools of economic thought. When there are actually a lot more than just those schools.
developing country
Developmentalist economic theories can offer different points of view for understanding the growth of the economy in a developing country. (Photo by Ben White on Unsplash)
There are actually multiple schools of thought for economics. The main ones are listed below:
  1. Classical - In this classical theory of economics, it is believed that the economy is self-regulating. In this sense, the economy will always be capable of achieving the neutral level of real GDP or output. Adam Smith is considered to have developed and pushed for this theory.
  2. Neoclassical - This theory focuses on the supply and demand as the most active focus in the productions, pricing, and consumption of the goods and services created by people and companies. This is the main competition for the theory of classical economics. With Neoclassical theory, economists contend that what the consumer perceives of the product is what changes and drives the price of the product.
  3. Marxists - the name of this set of theories is taken by economist and philosopher Karl Marx. He focused on explaining the role of labor in the development of the economy. He was very critical of the classical theories of Adam Smith. Marx believed that there were two flaws in capitalism that lead to the exploitation of the workforce. In capitalism, there is too much chaos in the free market and there will always be an excess of labor.
  4. Developmentalist - This theory emphasizes that the best way for less developed economies to grow is through accommodating to strong and varied internal markets and imposing high tariffs and taxes on imported goods in order to grow national markets first.
  5. Keynesian - this theory states that the government should increase the demand for products in order to boost the growth. Since the driving force of the economy according to Keynesians is consumer demand, then the theory supports expansionary fiscal policy.
  6. Institutionalists - The name of this theory gives you a hint to what they believe in. Institutionalists focus on understanding the role of the evolutionary process and the role of the institutions that shape the economic behavior in our societies. To them, the market is a result of multiple institutions working together through complex interactions. 
  7. Behaviorists - This school of economics focuses on the idea that investors do not behave in rational manners in addition to not behaving for their own best interests. Most investment decisions are based on a mix of factors including emotion, environment, and bias. These theories focus less on math and patterns and more on the behavior of individuals. It is one of the most popular theories to study if you prefer to focus on the logic rather than math.

More Diverse Data

In addition to teaching a multitude of theories, economics professors should also try to be inclusive in their data. Faculty should present data and examples with varied racial, socioeconomic, and gender diversity in order to combat the unconscious bias of economics professors.
diverse data in economics
More exercises should include distinct ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic status, and underrepresented subjects as data sources. (Photo by Stephen Dawson on Unsplash)
Too few exercises offer diversity in the data used for classes. An economics department at a university should aim to enforce a diverse workforce in order to promote the economics major requirements to focus on diversity and inclusion. 
The economy is an overarching part of our society that affects every single individual in the environment. The large reach of the subject matter should push students to learn about the different economics partners in the most diverse and inclusive manner. Understanding different viewpoints are at the core of getting the most out of your degree in economics. 
Students should be able to study the economic pattern of people of color and distinctive sexual orientation and not just the statistics of the majority. A segregated curriculum keeps students from being able to apply what they learn in school in the diverse and multicultural cities they may one day work in.
Universities should change their educational policy to one with a culture of inclusion. This is not just about the kind of students that they enroll but the kind of education and examples they provide.
Diversifying syllabi to include research of a minority population can, in turn, help economics students understand supplier diversity and diversity management applied by the communities they apply their knowledge to.
If a professor is able to introduce examples of economic theory through diverse data, the students will be able to better prepare for a diverse job market. If the top colleges for economics like Georgetown University, University of Chicago and Auburn University implemented diversity programs within their faculty and staff, students would be better armed to understand the growing development of the economics field.
There should be a commitment to diversity and the teaching of diverse sources of knowledge and examples, in order for all students to truly be able to apply their knowledge to the real world. 
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