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Teaching social economics: Bringing the real world into the classroom and taking the classroom into the real world

Christine Farias (Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA)
Fabian Balardini (Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York, New York, New York, USA)

International Journal of Social Economics

ISSN: 0306-8293

Article publication date: 27 November 2018

Issue publication date: 27 September 2019

Abstract

Purpose

Teaching complex economic theories can be made relevant through everyday life experiences and current economic, social, and environmental crises can be used as vehicles for student learning. The purpose of this paper is to help students understand that the economy should be seen as a social system that evolves over time driven by conflictive and contradictory forces and enable them to develop the critical thinking skills needed to make better choices for a more equitable and sustainable future.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper reviews the historical role played by neoliberalism on education in general and on the teaching of economics in particular. A historical/critical/action-learning approach discusses five pedagogical teaching methods that have been implemented in undergraduate economics courses and demonstrates how teaching social economics can be made possible by bringing the real world into the classroom and taking the classroom into the real world.

Findings

There is an urgent need to rethink the teaching of economics and the economics curriculum from one that stresses self-interest, profit maximization and cost minimization, to one that stresses cooperation, collaboration, fairness, and ethical values rather than economic value, as ways of satisfying society’s needs and addressing systemic issues of inequality, power and greed. Bringing teachers and students together in collaborative learning environments, thereby learning from the mistakes of the past and minimizing the impacts of the present so that future generations can also participate, is the much-needed change in how social economics can be taught post-financial crisis.

Originality/value

This paper is a response to the special issue on the theme teaching social economics during the global financial crisis. The authors have provided insights into their teaching pedgagogy in the context of this topic.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors of this paper have not made their research data set openly available. Any enquiries regarding the data set can be directed to the corresponding author.

Citation

Farias, C. and Balardini, F. (2019), "Teaching social economics: Bringing the real world into the classroom and taking the classroom into the real world", International Journal of Social Economics, Vol. 46 No. 8, pp. 960-976. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSE-05-2018-0253

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited