Integrating history of economic thought into introductory economics
Teaching the History of Economic Thought
In most universities in the UK history of economic thought, when it is taught, is taught either as a specialist or an optional module in the second and third year of the degree. This contribution argues in favour of introducing elements from the history of economic thought into the first year introductory economics module. The reasons why I see this to be an important change in developing curricula that teach economics through its history and evolution, are the following: 1) students learn from
... students learn from the beginning the context of economic ideas, instead of being introduced to economic theory in a de-contextualised way. This provides a framing effect for their whole undergraduate education in economics. 2) It allows history of economic thought to be seen in an integrated way as foundational of all knowledge in economic theory instead of another specialist topic, similar to other specialist topics like e.g. labour or financial economics, occasionally taught as options in years 2 and 3 in most degrees. This distinction is important, as specialist topics are seen as extensions of neoclassical theory into a specific domain of knowledge or application. History of economic thought, by its very subject matter, does not easily fit within such a framework. 3) It allows history to play a role in other modules, because it provides a unified framework for seeing knowledge in economics. 4) It allows the problimatisation of concepts that are still in dispute and discussion between economists, by presenting the historical context of modern conventions and conversations. 5) Finally, it allows the introduction of pluralism in economic curricula, as the differences between alternative paradigms or world views, can be presented from the beginning of the undergraduate programme of studies, allowing a broader and more diversified menu of optional and core module choices in years 2 and 3 of the degree.