Bringing Economics Back to Life
Economics has never been more popular. More students are taking it at A-level than ever before and the appetite of the general public for economics has probably never been greater. Why? The financial crisis and rising inequality have all played a role in making economics more popular.
In the midst of this resurgence, the undergraduate economics syllabus has come in for a lot of criticism. Why? Economics as taught at many universities is too abstract and totally divorced from reality. Students spend too much time doing mathematics rather than learning about the actual economy. Economics is an empirical discipline, but economics students don't get immersed in economic data. Too little time is devoted to trying to understand how the banking and financial systems work. Too few students understand why the 2008 crisis happened. Too few students know about economic history and the history of economics.
Thankfully, there is the beginnings of a change in direction. Diane Coyle, a professional economist with a Harvard PhD, has been in the vanguard in the UK - see here and here. At Manchester University, dissatisfied students have formed the Post-Crash Economics Society. You can read more about post-crisis economics in this Economist op-ed.