A common problem on all modules is that students often demand that their lecture and seminar material be supported by a single textbook. Using a single textbook can have advantages: students can get more out of a book with which they are familiar and a single textbook is generally cheaper than a range of books. This demand presents a problem for modules teaching heterodox content, because unsurprisingly most textbooks - or books able to play that role - are written from the orthodox perspective. However, a few exceptions stand out:
Neither book attempts to reach conclusions about which school of thought is 'best'; rather they allow students to make up their own minds.
However, heterodox concepts are most effective when the student is exposed to them early and often. Thus, some introductory texts would be useful. Again, most of the textbooks on the market tend to be written from a neoclassical perspective, even when attempts are made to address other views and other ways of thinking. There are some exceptions, however. Stretton (1999) is a book aimed at an introductory level student. It is interesting in a number of ways, principally because of the order of its chapters.
Earl and Wakeley (2005) offer another resource, designed specifically with parallel perspectives in mind. It is explicitly practical, pragmatic and pluralist. Its focus is on business decision making and it deals particularly with dynamic problems of firm start-up, maintenance and rejuvenation. It embraces both orthodox and heterodox, where heterodox is defined as a synthesis of behavioural, Post Keynesian and evolutionary approaches. Its main resource is a set of applied contemporary-real world examples. Significantly, like the Kemp and Wunder simulation discussed above, the book develops an analysis on entrepreneurship. In other ways, the book reflects both traditional courses and heterodox concerns. For instance, one of its first topics is markets; however, the same chapter also deals with the nature of economic models. That then reflects the traditional order of modules but embraces the heterodox concern with methodology.
The utility of a single textbook approach can be questioned, of course. Using only a textbook can discourage students from reading widely, and to think that they can rely on one text - no matter how many times they are told the contrary. A single book can also encourage the belief that there is only one way of thinking; in the context of this chapter that is a serious problem.
An alternative approach could require students to buy several key texts. Barone (1991) reports that students were expected to buy one book per perspective studied, for example Dugger (1984) on institutionalism and Littlechild (1978) on the Austrian approach. Such a strategy will usually come up against a cost constraint.
An alternative is to adopt a reader. Snowdon, Vane and Wynarczyk (1998) is one such readymade reader. Heilbroner's Teachings from the Worldly Philosophers (1997) is another. However, another option is to construct a reader from key texts. Although the readings in Table 4a suggest that Stretton is being used extensively, the author did not require students to buy the book. Certain key parts of the book were placed in a reader and many copies were placed in the library for reference. Other key readings, such as short handouts and newspaper articles, were placed in the reader. This has the disadvantage of being a little labour intensive but has the distinct advantage, assuming that all copyright issues have been resolved of providing the students with key material in a manageable format. A danger is that the students will regard this as an exhaustive list of readings, but nonetheless it might constitute more reading than they would otherwise have done. Using readers is one strategy advocated by Earl (2000) and adopted by Bucknell University. One of their readers is available as Schneider et al. (2005).
In the author's parallel perspectives module, there were two recommended texts: Real World Micro (Agia, et al., 2002), which encompassed a heterodox slant on real-world issues connected to consumers (such as credit card companies' marketing schemes), firms (such as price gouging), markets (living wage movements), government policy (such as welfare reform), plus environmental and globalisation articles; and Heilbroner's Worldly Philosophers. As Earl discusses below, it may be useful to explain how economists came to their own views; but in any case, Heilbroner's book adds some colour to the thoughts of famous economists in terms of their personal backgrounds and their historical context. Thus, engagement is achieved, as is the heterodox attention to history of thought. As shown in Table 4a, the readings from Heilbroner are interspersed into the programme as appropriate to invigorate certain topics. An alternative is to teach a block of history of thought at the beginning of the course (Barone, 1991).
A community led by Andy Denis of City University, London is building a site to share dozens of learning materials from pluralist economics courses.
Bucknell University links on teaching institutionalist economics:
Institutionalist market model experiment (Kemp and Wunder, undated): description and commentary http://web.archive.org/web/20070810060837/http://www.orgs.bucknell.edu/afee/afit/teaching_institutionalism_exercises.htm
Heterodox syllabuses: collection: http://web.archive.org/web/20060903004436/http://www.orgs.bucknell.edu/afee/afit/teaching_institutionalism_syllabi.htm
Module on Economic Theory: http://business.curtin.edu.au/files/cbsUnitsCourses/Economic_Theory_3002.pdf
Economics of Social Issues module:
Economics Network Tests and Exams Resources: http://www.economicsnetwork.ac.uk/teaching/exams.htm
Virtual Classroom Experiments: http://veconlab.econ.virginia.edu/admin.htm
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