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Today, in many countries what is viewed as ‘credible’ economic knowledge stems from academic economics. The discipline of academic economics is based in universities across the world that employ economists who produce research that is published in academic journals and educate students who then go into government, businesses, and think tanks. Through the book’s authors’ and contributors’ experiences of economics education, and as part of the international student movement Rethinking Economics, it argues that academic economics in its current state does not provide people with the knowledge that we need to build thriving economies that allows everyone to flourish wherever they are from in the world, and whatever their racialised identity, gender or socioeconomic background. The consequences of this inadequate education links to modern economies being a root cause of systemic racism and sexism, socioeconomic inequality, and the ecological crisis. When economies are rooted in a set of principles that values whiteness, maleness and wealth, we should not be surprised by the inequalities that show up. Structural inequalities need systemic change, change that infiltrates through every level of the system, otherwise we risk reproducing and deepening them. This book makes the case that in order to reclaim economics it is necessary to diversify, decolonise and democratise how economics is taught and practised, and by whom. It calls on everyone to do what we can to reclaim economics for racial justice, gender equality and future generations.

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The perils of leaving economics to the experts

One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving ‘the economy’ has come to be seen as one of the most important tasks facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are increasingly conducted in the language of economics and economic logic increasingly frames how political problems are defined and addressed. The result is that crucial societal functions are outsourced to economic experts. The econocracy is about how this particular way of thinking about economies and economics has come to dominate many modern societies and its damaging consequences. We have put experts in charge but those experts are not fit for purpose.

A growing movement is arguing that we should redefine the relationship between society and economics. Across the world, students, the economists of the future, are rebelling against their education. From three members of this movement comes a book that tries to open up the black box of economic decision making to public scrutiny. We show how a particular form of economics has come to dominate in universities across the UK and has thus shaped our understanding of the economy. We document the weaknesses of this form of economics and how it has failed to address many important issues such as financial stability, environmental sustainability and inequality; and we set out a vision for how we can bring economic discussion and decision making back into the public sphere to ensure the societies of the future can flourish.

Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

advance science and civilization. William Beveridge, 19242 These quotes from two of Britain’s most famous economists set out an approach to education that contrasts radically with economics education today. It is an approach called ‘liberal education’ and in this chapter we argue that it provides a set of principles that can be used to reform economics degrees. In this section we introduce the idea of liberal education and in the next we explore the history and state of the English higher education (HE) system since 1945 and show how far liberal principles have been

in The econocracy
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Ariane Agunsoye, Michelle Groenewald, Danielle Guizzo, and Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt

economic experience. We end the chapter by exploring how the three Ds can be embedded into economics education so that the next generation of economists will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and values needed to truly transform the discipline and our global economy. This focus reflects our interest in educational reform and our belief that educating

in Reclaiming economics for future generations
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Kamal Ramburuth-Hurt

oppression. Economics education for everyone Reclaiming economics as everyday practice rests upon a principle of economics education for everyone extending across school, university, adult education, public service broadcasting and local media. This requires accessible public education opportunities that could take the form of organised workshops

in Reclaiming economics for future generations
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

economics expert and, by extension, what gives them this authority? As in all professions, the answer is formal education, training and – most importantly – qualifications, which are the concrete proof of their holder’s expertise. The content of economics education is revealing because it reflects the dominant view within the academic discipline of the knowledge and skills economists must have and what the role of an economist should be. It was this insight that inspired Paul Samuelson, one of the most influential economists of the twentieth century, to declare: ‘I don

in The econocracy
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Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

had swapped sides. Now, when discussion turns to the political issues of the day and someone launches into their opinion, often they finish by looking over at us, as if to say, ‘Does that all make sense, you know, economically speaking?’ Sometimes, it’s even more explicit – ‘You’re an economist, what do you think?’ As economics students we have somehow ended up with a strange authority to judge the merits of political arguments. These situations leave us feeling uncomfortable. Having graduated now we are all keenly aware that our economics education has not equipped

in The econocracy
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

perhaps best summarised the situation when he said that his education ‘allowed one to be critical’. Neoclassical economics may have been dominant, but dissenting ideas still had their part to play. In contrast, economics education today does not expose students to alternative perspectives and does not allow them to be critical. 100  The econocracy The  main reason for this shift is that non-neoclassical economists have been systematically excluded from economics departments across the UK. The result is that departments are neither willing nor able to teach alternative

in The econocracy
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for reforms to university economics education. That is because academic economics today is not fit for purpose. This book explores what has gone wrong with economics and how it can be reclaimed so that it becomes a force for good in the world. Reclaiming economics is no easy task. The problems we highlight have long histories and are deeply embedded. The majority of

in Reclaiming economics for future generations
Joe Earle, Cahal Moran, and Zach Ward-Perkins

Chapter 3 Beyond neoclassical economics Economics as a contested discipline pluralism n. a condition or system in which two or more states, groups, principles, sources of authority, etc., coexist.1 Economics education shapes how its students think about the world. This makes economics powerful, as those who study it often go on to have significant authority. Economics is presented as a unified field and its association with maths and statistics makes it easy to see it as a science. However, this is not the reality. In this chapter we argue that there is a

in The econocracy