Institute for New Economic Thinking Launches Project to Reform Undergraduate Syllabus

In response to widespread discontent among students, employers, and university teachers, a project to create a new core curriculum for economics was launched at a seminar hosted by HM Treasury today. The CORE curriculum project, funded by the Institute for New Economic Thinking, convened the meeting, which was attended by academics, policymakers, business leaders, and students from around the world.

CORE stands for “Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics”. The project provides a new approach to the design, content and way of teaching the core economics curriculum for undergraduates. The CORE project’s first task will be to deliver a pilot of a new first-year undergraduate “Introduction to Economics” course, to be taught in participating universities during the 2014-2015 academic year. Intermediate level Microeconomics and Macroeconomics courses are also in preparation, and will be piloted from 2015 onwards.

The CORE project will produce open access on-line resources, including e-book course material for students with interactive content including diagrams, data and videos. It is being developed by an international team of academics under the leadership of Professor Wendy Carlin of the Department of Economics, University College London, with technical support from Azim Premji University in Bangalore. The course materials, plus supporting teaching materials, will be available at no cost to participating institutions. Instructors will be free to adapt them to their local needs.

“The pressure for change from students, faculty, business and policy makers, along with new developments in economics, makes this an auspicious time to seek improvements in what economics students learn, and how they learn it,” Professor Carlin says.

The CORE curriculum will equip students to understand how the economy has evolved and how it works by bringing advances in economics research over the past three decades, lessons from economic history, and the comparative experience of different countries into the curriculum.

Students will be encouraged to develop their ability to use economics for understanding problems that are important to them and for engaging with policy debates. CORE will seek input from students, policymakers, academics, businesses, and professional economists from the private and public sector. Guiding the curriculum will be the view that economics – like other sciences – should confront its proposed explanations with systematic testing using evidence from history, experiments, and data.

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