Sign Petition

Revise the University of Manchester's Economic Syllabus

535 Signatures Goal: 600

To the Economics Department of the University of Manchester:

Wewould like to propose a number of measures that we believe will improve the way economics is taught at the University of Manchester. We base our case on the following observations:

1) The current content and teaching methods fail to meet the targets laid out by the University itself in the Manchester Matrix and Student Charter. E.g. according to clause 1 in the Manchester Matrix courses should teach students to think independently and critically but the vast majority of economics modules assign no marks for these skills. As a result students are not educated to the standard that they deserve and their employability is harmed.

2) In most courses “economics” is shorthand for “neoclassical economics”. There is no recognition of the fact that economics is a discipline that consists of a variety of schools of thought. Academic integrity requires that alternative economic theories be introduced to students. Economic questions cannot necessarily be answered adequately from a single theoretical standpoint.

3) The way economics is taught has hugely important consequences because our societies are shaped by economic events and policies. Economics graduates should be prepared to deal with the economic problems that the world faces.

4) The mismatch between syllabuses and real-world needs is a challenge faced by economicsdepartmentsacross the world. We want to stress that the department are not the cause of the problem. However, as a world class institution they should take a lead by reforming their syllabus.

We therefore believe that an education in economics should include more plurality and greater critical evaluation. We propose the following changes:

1) In each module, it should be highlighted what theory students are being taught, as this often is not mentioned. This leads to economics being viewed as a monolithic discipline without debate.

2) Because economic theories cannot be fully understood independently of the socio-political and technological context in which they were formulated, links to the history of economic thought should be made wherever possible.

3) There should be an availability of courses in alternative economic perspectives in first, second and third years. The point is not to stop teaching mainstream economics and only teach alternative perspectives. It is to realise that a plurality of perspectives is needed.

4) Wherever possible, lecturers should link their subject matter to the real world so that students can learn to apply theory, and understand where theory fails to explain reality.

5) Modules should encourage the development of critical skills. Tutorials should foster discussion and reflective thinking, instead of students copying answers written on a board.

6) Exams should include marks for independent, analytical thinking, to reflect this increasing focus on independent and applied thinking.

7) The department should hire academics that specialise in non-mainstream schools of thought. Currently the work of all new staff is almost exclusively within the mainstream.

Some of these changes could be implemented quickly, but others will take more time and new resources. The signatories of this petition signal their agreement with us in thinking that the current syllabus should be revised along these guidelines, and that the department should implement these changes as quickly as possible.

Please do not sign anonymously, as we really need to present this to the department with evidence that their own students want change. We are working constructively with the department and have been assured that they will not get angry at students who do decide to sign.

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  • Adam Niven
    Adam Niven United Kingdom, Manchester
    Oct 21, 2014
    Oct 21, 2014
    Both the breadth and depth of the economic modules in my belief is lacking. Too much emphasis placed on technical and numerical economic courses which do not favour students with a passion in economics and who have not undertaken a-level maths.
  • Tim Baldwin
    Tim Baldwin United Kingdom
    Oct 04, 2014
    Oct 04, 2014
    I studied economics as part of both my bachelor's & master's degrees in sustainability. In that context the shortfalls highlighted by this movement were obvious. It is imperative that the teaching of economics be broaden to include thirties other than mere neoclassical if we are to avoid continually repeating past mistakes. Present government policies provide all the proof necessary
  • R. Eric Swanepoel
    R. Eric Swanepoel United Kingdom, Rosyth
    Jun 30, 2014
    Jun 30, 2014
    The way that economics is taught is fundamental. It affects, ultimately, everyone on the planet, and it is extremely important that neoclassical theory, which is not based on empirical evidence and is arguably responsible for widening inequality and much misery, is put in its place.
  • Dr L Brownstein
    Dr L Brownstein United Kingdom
    Jun 09, 2014
    Jun 09, 2014
    What you are doing is exceptional. Keep doing it. Mainstream econ is bollocks and the faculty, deep down, know it. I fought this as well at Lees for some years, but gave up in the end. Now, I am back at it again. For an alternative, known as MMT, have a look at Bill Mitchell's Billy blog and Randy Wray's book, Modern Money Theory, as a start. Reject the likes of Mankiw and Krugman. They will be viewed as historical curiosities, hopefully in the fairly near future.
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535

Signatures

  • 1 year ago
    Mateusz Urban United Kingdom
    1 year ago
  • 1 year ago
    Elisa Greco
    1 year ago
  • 2 years ago
    Ben Bjorgaard
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Adam Niven
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Tim Baldwin
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Phaedra Sawbridge United Kingdom
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Alejandro Marambio T
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Ioana Negru
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Muhammad Faraz
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    lensa wordofa
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    R. Eric Swanepoel United Kingdom
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Dr L Brownstein
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Thomas Malone
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Laura Reid United Kingdom
    2 years ago
  • 2 years ago
    Sally Stephens
    2 years ago
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