Design Your Own Curriculum

Example Curricula

This chapter provides examples of how economics programmes could look and be structured. Such proposals help make the debate concrete and bring out potential trade-offs. This is important because critics of current programmes often simply ask to teach more and more, without considering practical limits on time and content. Curriculum proposals help us to flesh out not only what could be added to a programme, but also what could be left out. In addition, these examples show how the building blocks of Economy Studies can be combined to form coherent programmes.

This chapter is also intended to make clear once again: Economy Studies is not a blueprint of a single, ‘ideal’ curriculum. It is possible to design a wide variety of programmes with these building blocks, and it is our hope that they will be used for this. We firmly believe that the world is best served with a wide variety of economists. One size does not fit all.

Example Curricula:

Design Your Own Curriculum, 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 fascinating way to start thinking outside the box, even further than would be possible when designing a single course. Here is a basic roadmap for conducting such a workshop.

Step 1: Choose the central theme

Brainstorm about the central theme of the programme. 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? Will it prepare students mostly to work for policy agencies, in the financial or commercial world, or in other places yet such as journalism, research or education?

Step 2: Sketch the broad strokes

What kind of theory would students need for this purpose? What kind of methods might be most useful? What kind of practical assignments might form a capstone course? Which other disciplines could contribute knowledge to this programme?

Step 3: Create the key courses

It is easiest to create a few of the key courses early on. This helps organise your thinking, and can form an initial framework to design other courses around. The examples in chapter Tool 4: Example courses may provide inspiration, as well as the course design workshop explained at the end of that chapter.

Step 4: Rethink the standard courses

Every programme will have a few methods courses, some theory 101 work, and so forth. How could those standard courses be redesigned, to better fit the particular purposes of this programme? The chapter Tool 2: Adapting Existing Courses can provide inspiration.

Step 5: Create the structure

Create a list of the courses designed in step 3 and 4. What would be the best order in which to put these courses? Here it can help to think of what knowledge courses can build on or require students to have beforehand. But one can also consider which courses are particularly motivating for students, providing a good introduction into the field and triggering the interests of students.

Step 6: Check if something is still missing

Look at the programme structure created in step 5 and check if there is still relevant content missing. Here, one can see whether the three principles are included, or for a more thorough check one can use chapter Tool 3: Curriculum Review to see which building blocks (and which sections of these) are still absent. It is important to note here that it is not necessarily a bad thing if a building block is not present in the programme. Every programme is finite, and therefore cannot include everything. The check is thus whether any relevant content is still missing. If so, create a new course to include it, or incorporate it into one or more of the courses already in your plan.

You have designed your own curriculum!