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From Terrible to Terrific Undergraduate Economics Curricula

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Among the areas left largely unscathed by the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent never-­‐ending recession, the teaching of economics ranks high.

In spite of recurrent criticisms and concerns (fourteen years after the birth of the Post-­‐autistic movement in this very same city!), undergraduate curricula is still largely dominated by strictly technical approaches, with little effort to make contemporary economic issues accessible to economics students. Surprisingly, the crisis has not caused any changes to the teaching of economics, even though it called into question some of the core results of the dominant approach.

In an article originally published in the journal L’Économie politique in April 2013 and whose English version is forthcoming under the title ‘The case for pluralism: what French undergraduate economics teaching is all about and how it can be improved’ in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education, we dedicated ourselves to two interconnected tasks: First, we documented the urgent need for more pluralism by taking a close look at today’s economics curricula in all French universities (50 universities total); and second, we designed a curriculum committed to a strong conception of pluralism.

Although this survey is limited to France given the high degree of similarity in economics curricula from one country to another, we hope that it will inspire supporters of pluralism in economics education. Our work was undertaken with very modest means- mostly the good will of PEPS members using their own computers on their own time. We did not require any funding and thus feel such a study could be replicated in other countries. We hope this large round discussion at the 2015 INET Plenary Conference will inspire others to carry out similar studies and helps energize the fight for pluralism.