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Reviving Debate In Economics: Motivations and Methods of the International Student Movement

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In the past three years, students around the world have turned the heat of scrutiny onto our economics departments. Our call is strikingly uniform across our diverse cultures and languages: we want critical debate back in the economics curriculum.

The contents of our call for pluralism are laid out in this INET conference’s PEPS-Économie paper, as well as in our online international petition (www.isipe.net) and vision statement (www.rethinkeconomics.org). Our call is for educators to teach a diversity of schools of thought, an awareness of history and current events, and a reflective methodology. I will not go further into the detail of that call, as it is laid out elsewhere.

If academic economics continues as usual, then critically minded young people who care about studying the actual economy will go into departments of political economy, political science, history, philosophy, sociology, development studies, geography, public policy, or anthropology. If young economists defect from academic economics, this deprives them of recognition as economists, and also deprives the economics profession of the most creative and independently-minded thinkers.

We will lose a generation of talent to the Prisoners’ Dilemma that universities, higher education funding frameworks, and journal ranking boards have created for themselves. Instead, universities and officials should opt for cooperation and mutual dialogue with the growing international student movement.

In this paper, I shall firstly explain some motivations driving the international student movement, showcase the positive results of the movement, and outline the processes that might lead to curriculum change.