When I first studied economics it was as part of a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford University. I remember huge lectures in the Examination Schools – a large Victorian building in the High Street. Two professors in flapping gowns waved their arms around and drew impressive looking graphs on boards while making sexist references to Linda Lovelace and others. It alienated me on so many levels that I gave it up as quickly as I could.
Surely things have moved on in the past 30 years? But perhaps not as much as we would all have hoped. The models as the same; the graphs are the same; are even the sexist references the same? Certainly, economics is a subject taught primarily by men and studied primarily by men. But this is the least of our worries. It is also a subject that seems content to create a pseudo-world within which mathematical models work out while the real world outside the window goes to hell in a hand-basket.
If you are studying economics and are disappointed by its apparent shallowness you could try the Economics Anti-textbook, which gives you questions to use to subvert your professor, but also illustrates how economics as followed by academics economists is actually considerably more nuanced than what is taught to students. If you are looking for something rather more propositional then you can try my book Green Economics.
You can also try the resources made available by the Association of Heterodox Economists including its teaching resources. You may also be inspired by the example of the students from Paris who accused their tutors of being autistic and set up the Post-Autistic Economics Movement.
These days I teach two courses, one about green economics specifically and one about how a range of economists have included the environment in their analyses. The first course is available to students from outside my university. I also teach regularly on short courses including an annual course at the Centre for Alternative Technology. Some of the presentations I give during those courses are available on the Resources for Students page.
You may also be interested in a new Masters course on economics which is being launched by Schumacher College in autumn 2001.
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