Economics Educator Summer Reading List 2023

We know that term-time is hectic for academics, so we hope that alongside taking a well-deserved summer break, these resources can help you with planning your teaching for the next year.

Our list includes books, articles and videos that tackle current economic issues and offer fresh perspectives on the subject. We believe that this reading list will help educators stay up-to-date with the latest economic trends and theories, and provide them with new ideas and insights to incorporate into their teaching.

Teaching Heterodox and Pluralist Economics – Some Useful Books by Stefan Kesting

In this recently published article in the Forum for Social Economics, Stefan Kesting reviews the following three new textbooks: Macroeconomics by Mitchell, Wray, & Watts, Foundations of real-world economics – What every economics student needs to know by Komlos, and The evolution of economic ideas and systems – A pluralist introduction by Schneider. He compares them to already existing textbooks by Blau and Winkler (2018), Bowles et al. (2017), Goodwin et al. (2019b), Rochon and Rossi (2016), Sherman et al. (2018), The Core Team (2017) and Van Staveren (2015).

Kesting concludes that Schneider provides a brilliant concise, very well written and easily accessible overview of the plurality of major economic ideas in their historical evolution. And shows how its intricately entwined with the epochal eventful history of economic systems. He argues Mitchell et al. is the ideal textbook for someone who works in a tolerant pluralist department and can teach introductory macroeconomics from a distinct Post Keynesian persuasion. And finally that Komlos (2019) is an excellent companion if you want to add a critical running commentary to a course based on a conventional mainstream economics textbook.

Teaching Principles of Microeconomics by Mark Maier and Phil Ruder

This dynamic guide is abundant with practical advice and ready-to-use teaching examples. It will help both new and experienced instructors of Principles of Microeconomics to reconsider and refine their courses. Mark Maier and Phil Ruder bring together the wisdom of 25 eminent scholars of economic education on how best to introduce students to the discipline and inspire a long-lasting passion for microeconomics.

Beyond offering guidance to educators on how to improve students’ learning experience, the book proposes measures for addressing many of the challenges that face the economics discipline today. Chapters provide suggestions on (1) capturing students’ attention and ensuring their engagement, (2) including course content that focuses on important public policy topics and pressing issues within modern society, (3) adopting evidence-based pedagogical strategies in the classroom and online, and (4) tackling issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion within the discipline. The ideas advanced in this illuminating guide highlight the possibility of continued improvement throughout one’s teaching career.

This insightful teaching guide, which is free of jargon, will also be of interest to deans, teaching and learning centre directors, and other administrators of undergraduate institutions.

From Economics to Political Economy: The problems, promises and solutions of pluralist economics by Tim Thornton

Of all the books written on economics education, we found this one exceptionally well thought out and insightful. It helped us a lot in sharpening our thinking on what the discipline of economics is and could be. 

Thornton argues for disciplinary differentiation and institutional independence. Disciplinary differentiation involves reverting back to the original name of the discipline (political economy) and broadening the field by including economic history, history of economic thought, a diversity of theoretical perspectives, economic development, and comparative economic systems. Institutional independence involves operating outside economics departments (for example, in departments of political science or management). In his words, rather than trying to continue a “dialogue with the deaf ” inside economics departments, reform-minded students and academics may benefit from more carefully contemplating the full range of available reform strategies. The analysis includes detailed case studies of successful and unsuccessful attempts at change within and outside economics departments.

AEA Resources for Changing Course Content or Curriculum to Appeal to a Broad Range of Students (with a strong focus on inequality)

The Committee on Economic Education of the American Economic Association has collected materials that can help make economics more inclusive, in particular by including more content on gender, class, and racial inequality. 

It, for example, includes a St. Louis Fed lesson plan on racial wealth inequality, an article on how to change courses to retain female economics students, The Opportunity Atlas, the National Economic Association Newsletter, and syllabi on the Economic History of Diversity and Inclusion, and Community-Based Research and Education.

Foundations of Real-World Economics by John Komlos

“Foundations of Real-World Economics” is an essential addition to the economics educator summer reading list because it demonstrates the importance of considering real-world scenarios beyond oversimplified models of perfect competition. Educators need to understand that applying these models can be misleading and can create inefficiencies in the real world, especially in the context of multinational oligopolies dominating the market. The textbook brings together the work of key scholars and offers updated material on important topics such as financial crises, populism, racism, inequality, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic. By including more real-world economics in their teaching, educators can help students better understand the complexities of the economy and prepare them for the challenges of the 21st century.

We are very grateful that John Komlos made us a special offer giving the first chapter of the book for free for all those following the Centre for Economy Studies. Get the first chapter for free here.

Building Block 1: Introduction to the Economy from the Economy Studies Handbook

Economics education aims to prepare future economists by helping them understand the economy’s broader social and ecological context. This involves answering fundamental questions like what economists study, why it matters, and how it relates to other fields. Introducing the subject matter of the economy and its relevance is foundational for any economics program. It gives students a bigger picture and helps them understand why studying economics is worthwhile. Failing to do so can lead to demotivated students and misunderstandings throughout the program.

The Economics Network has created a comprehensive handbook for lecturers, teaching assistants, and course designers. The handbook contains chapters on a wide range of topics, from curriculum design (including the Building Blocks framework for curriculum analysis and design) to assessment and feedback, as well as ways to incorporate sustainability into economics classes. We recommend the chapter on “Teaching Heterodox and Pluralist Economics” by Andrew Mearman, as well as chapters on teaching styles, such as problem-based learning and incorporating games and simulations into your teaching.

Track 2: Learning Collaboratively CtaLE’s  Teach ECONference 2023

Incorporating more collaborative learning in the classroom can help students not just understand the material better, but also the economy. By talking with each other, they are able to draw from each other’s experiences as well as the content. Anastasia Papadopoulou from University of Bristol discusses the pedagogical implications of group work as assessments.

Voices on the Economy: How Open-Minded Exploration of Rival Perspectives Can Spark Solutions to Our Urgent Economic Problems by Amy S. Cramer & Laura Markowitz 

This is a fantastic new open-access textbook focused on the US, designed to introduce economic thinking and cover a wide range of topics in a highly accessible, pluralist, and didactically strong way. The book consistently presents conservative free-market, liberal fair-market, and radical democratic socialist perspectives side-by-side to help students better understand and participate in economic and policy discussions. Each chapter also contains creative classroom exercises and activities, as well as more traditional test questions. 

By being exposed to diverse viewpoints, students are better equipped to critically evaluate economic theories and policies, and to understand the real-world implications of economic decisions. It also helps to promote pluralism in the field of economics, which is essential for creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

Finally, we recommend checking out our list of teaching materials categorised by topics/building blocks. This list provides an extensive collection of resources for your specific courses. Our goal is to modernise economics education and encourage critical thinking among students.

We believe that by incorporating more diverse perspectives into economics education, students will be better equipped to understand the complexities of the economy and prepare for the challenges of the 21st century. It also helps to promote pluralism in the field of economics, which is essential for creating a more inclusive and equitable society.