Tuesday, June 14, 2022

One full academic year with CORE

I had used the CORE Project’s materials before for one semester courses. But this academic year I have covered the whole contents of the e-book “The Economy” from September to June. The group I taught has been the first cohort of a new degree on Contemporary History, Politics and Economics at my university (Autonomous University of Barcelona). Being an interdisciplinary degree fully taught in English, the students were highly motivated and many of them very participative.

Having shared and worked through all the units of “The Economy”, plus two of the experiments in the e-book “Experiencing Economics” I could more fully appreciate the coherence and richness of the contents. Macroeconomics is seen as an extension of microecnomics, and microeconomics is embedded in a debate about the great questions of our time, such as inequalities, institutions or climate change, in dialogue with other disciplines, such as natural sciences, politics, history or psychology.

Markets are a special case of social interactions (introduced using game theory), and perfectly competitive markets are an extreme and unusual case among many possible more or less competitive, efficient or inefficient markets. Economics is taught with references to what economists have been doing in the last 30 years, such as behavioral economics or Rodrik’s trilemma (I asked my students in the exam how would they solve the trilemma if they could choose: I can proudly say that no one proposed to exclude democracy…). All this can convince students that economics is useful and interesting without lowering the standards.

Perhaps in the future it would be useful to contrast it to other more traditional texts in an explicit way (eg on Aggregate Supply and minimum wages), because students find these materials in the net. The current materials can also be complemented with more on the European economy, populism and modern social choice, or evolutionary applications. Some materials I have barely used this time, I plan to use them more in the future, such as the Leibnizes and the Einsteins (parts that use more intensive mathematical tools), or the empirical projects of the e-book “Doing Economics”. The analytics of the classes, the exams and the exercises have focused on graphical models, but I believe that students should be helped to understand that mathematics is another useful language, and probably simpler than some other existing ones.

We have done many of the Exercises/Interactive Questions of the e-book “The Economy” in class, and the students have produced very interesting Essays/videos with cases related to the units of the e-book or related to supplementary materials such as the files on Covid-19.

Great experience, for wich instructors and students should be grateful to all those who contribute to the CORE Project.

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