Training in problem analysis and solution design through a case study in international and macroeconomics
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.
- The Challenges of Our Time (Main BB1, Additional BB2, BB3, BB8, BB9, BB10)
- Argentina and the IMF (Main BB9, Additional BB2, BB3, BB6, BB8, BB10)
- The Economics of Oil (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB6)
- A Historical Perspective on Economic Success (Main BB4, Additional BB1, BB6)
- The Digital Economy of South Korea (Main BB2, Additional BB3, BB5, BB6)
- Agent-Based Modelling (Main BB7, Additional BB4, BB9)
- The World of Production (Main BB8, Additional BB2, BB3, BB4, BB5)
- The Political-Economic System of India (Main BB6, Additional BB2, BB3, BB10)
- Economics for a Better World (Main BB10, Additional BB1, BB2)
- Coordination and Allocation Mechanisms in Norwegian Agriculture (Main BB5, Additional BB2, BB3)
- The Economics of Financial Crises (Main BB8, Additional BB3, BB4, BB6)
Example Course 2: Argentina and the IMF
This master’s course in a fictitious Argentinian university is organised around one real world issue: what policies should the IMF pursue concerning Argentina? For this reason, the course is made in collaboration with the IMF and Argentinian government, as they are able to provide guest lectures, information, relevant assignments, useful contacts and potentially also internship places.
The first half of the course is about teaching students the relevant theoretical, empirical and real-world knowledge so that they can properly fulfil the case study. This consists of three parts: learning about the Argentinian economy, the IMF, and about international and macroeconomics in general. Regarding the Argentinian economy, it is important that students become familiar with its history, as well as its current structure and institutions. Regarding the IMF, students need to learn how it functions and how this has changed over time, with internal structure and external power pressures, dominant ideas and models, key practices and methods, and the relation it has had with and the impact its policies has had on various countries, in particular Argentina. Finally but crucially, students need to become familiar with the different approaches and recent developments in international and macroeconomics. This part of the course is concluded with an exam testing the students’ knowledge of the Argentinian economy, the IMF, and international and macroeconomics.
The second half of the course focuses on the current situation and problems in Argentina and how the IMF should respond to these. It starts out with a few (guest) lectures to introduce students to the current situation and different ideas about the causes of the problems and solutions to them. The main part of the second half of the course, however, consists of project group work. In small groups students are asked to write a policy report to either the IMF or the Argentinian advising them on what they should do regarding the agreements between the IMF and Argentina.
As such, the report has an explicit goal and audience, and students are assessed based on how well they are able to make their case accordingly. Students have to convince the reader of their understanding of the problem, and that the theoretical ideas and empirical studies they build upon are most relevant. Furthermore, they need to make the case for their policy proposals with both analytical and normative arguments. The assessment is done together by the academic teacher and policymakers at the IMF and Argentinian government in order to focus on both the analytical and real-world aspects.
Required background knowledge:
Master’s course, requiring advanced knowledge of Economic Theories (BB8), Economic History (BB3), Know Your Own Economy (BB2), Political-Economic Systems (BB6).
12 ECTS (360 hrs)
This course uses the following building blocks:
- Problems & Proposals (BB9)
- Know Your Own Economy (BB2)
- History of the Economy (BB3)
- Political-Economic Systems (BB6)
- Economic Theories (BB8)
- Economics for a Better World (BB10)