Econ Majors Graduate With a Huge Knowledge Gap

What’s needed is a mandatory course on ethics and the limits of knowledge.

 

Economics remains one of the most popular majors for college students. Most econ students, of course, don’t go on to become professional economists; instead, they fill the ranks of the U.S.’s vast upper-middle-class of business managers and professionals. The models they learn in their college classes inform the way they think about the world, even if they don’t end up using them for quantitative purposes after final exams are over.

But there’s at least one gaping hole in the education most econ majors receive. They learn plenty of models, but they aren’t often taught to think critically about what they learn. At best, they absorb a few ideas from offhand comments by their professors, or from the tone of their textbooks. As a result, many of them leave class with deep reservations over whether economics theories represent real science, or whether economists approach the world in a moral, socially responsible manner.

This problem can be addressed by making all U.S. econ majors take a philosophy-of-economics course, like the one offered at the London School of Economics. There would be two main parts of the course — epistemology and ethics.

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And in 2014 we shall be spending some time looking at . . . Slow Food

This will be one of several thinking exercises that will be introduced into the curriculum for 2014.

Slow Food is a global, grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who are linking the pleasure of good food with a commitment to their community and the environment. Slow Food believes that everyone has a fundamental right to the pleasure of good food and consequently the responsibility to protect the heritage of biodiversity, culture and knowledge that make this pleasure possible.

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Perverse Trade-offs – Ethical considerations in sustainable development

From the course library:

Within business organizations, decisions that have far-reaching health, safety, environmental, and economic impacts on entire communities (if not nations) can be made unilaterally, sometimes literally by one individual. Continue reading