Do It Yourself: Design Your Own Course, Step by Step

Example Courses

In this chapter, we demonstrate how to create actual courses using the Economy Studies design toolkit, showing various example courses. Each of these courses flows from our central philosophy: teach students how to study the economy, rather than teaching them one form of economic thinking in the abstract. In terms of our principles, they vary: some of these example courses focus more on pluralism, others on real-world economics, others yet on thinking about values. As for the building blocks, each of the example courses uses at least one of the ten building blocks, while most use more than one.

These courses are described rather briefly in this chapter, as full syllabi, slides or exam questions would take up too much space in a physical book. More extensive course descriptions, syllabi and teaching material can be found in the online database of our partner organisation Exploring Economics.

The courses shown here are highly diverse, and mainly intended to inspire and to show the range of possibilities. Depending on the knowledge available within a department, the courses designed there could be vastly different from the examples shown here.

Example Courses:

  1. The Challenges of Our Time (Main BB1, Additional BB2, BB3, BB8, BB9, BB10)
  2. Argentina and the IMF (Main BB9, Additional BB2, BB3, BB6, BB8, BB10)
  3. The Economics of Oil (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB6)
  4. A Historical Perspective on Economic Success (Main BB4, Additional BB1, BB6)
  5. The Digital Economy of South Korea (Main BB2, Additional BB3, BB5, BB6)
  6. Agent-Based Modelling (Main BB7, Additional BB4, BB9)
  7. The World of Production (Main BB8, Additional BB2, BB3, BB4, BB5)
  8. The Political-Economic System of India (Main BB6, Additional BB2, BB3, BB10)
  9. Economics for a Better World (Main BB10, Additional BB1, BB2)
  10. Coordination and Allocation Mechanisms in Norwegian Agriculture (Main BB5, Additional BB2, BB3)
  11. The Economics of Financial Crises (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB4, BB6)

Do It Yourself: Design Your Own Course, Step by Step

An interesting exploratory exercise is to design an economics curriculum like those above from scratch, with a small group of faculty, students, or ideally both. This can be a great way to start thinking outside the box. It can be done with students or with teaching staff, or ideally with a mixture. Here is a basic roadmap for conducting such a workshop.

Step 1: Choose the central theme

Brainstorm about the central theme of the course. Will it be centred on the values at play in economics? Focused on the real-world economy, perhaps a specific country? Built around a certain sector? The building blocks can be useful here. Choose one, two or three of them and make them the anchoring points for the course.

Step 2: Sketch the broad strokes

What kind of theories would students need for this purpose, if any? Would the course include any kind of methods training? What kind of practical assignments might be part of the course? Which other disciplines or practitioners could provide an interesting guest lecture?

Step 3: Design the core lessons

It is easiest to start the design process with a few of the key lectures. This helps organise your thinking, and can form an initial framework around which to design the other parts of the course. The examples in this chapter may also provide inspiration for workshop participants.

Step 4: Create a structure

What would be the best order in which to take students through the key lessons? Here one can consider which lessons are particularly motivating for students, providing a good introduction into the field and triggering the interests of students.

Step 5: Get it on paper

Make sure that all ideas are written down: use post-its in the brainstorm phase and a worksheet to bring it all together into a structure. Think of a good slogan or tagline for the course. This helps to attract students but it also helps to keep the raison-d’être of the course front and centre.

Step 6: Present the course designs

It also works well to do this exercise with a few groups of 3-5 people each. Afterwards, each group presents their course in a 1-minute pitch to the group. Maybe there is even a prize for the best course design, by group vote?

You have designed your own course!

On our website, we provide additional practical resources for this workshop. In addition, within the Rethinking Economics network there is a group of trained Economy Studies workshop facilitators who could conduct this workshop at your faculty. Alternatively, we can provide you with the worksheets, PowerPoint slides and other materials.