Teaching Economics: The Wea Textbook Commentaries Project

9 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2014

See all articles by K. Stuart Birks

K. Stuart Birks

Massey University - Massey Business School

Date Written: October 27, 2014


There is currently a lot of controversy about the nature of economics teaching around the world. Criticisms focus on a perceived overemphasis on a narrowly defined "mainstream economics". These concerns are being widely voiced by academics and students alike. This presentation briefly outlines some of the factors leading to the increasing dominance of this mainstream approach. These include the nature of teaching and assessment resources that are provided by key textbooks, the standardization of courses and degree structures, and the impact of research assessment exercises.

The presentation then indicates some of the concerns that have been voiced about this development, such as the political messages implicit in this framing and the disregard for important economic phenomena including instability and adjustments over time. Attempts to bring about change include the development of alternative textbooks. These can be useful, but several such books have been written over the past 20 years to little effect.

In this context, the World Economics Association’s Textbook Commentaries Project seeks to provide a platform for independent, inclusive, participatory enrichment of courses. The project is outlined and reasons given as to why this might be a means of increasing the influence of alternative and critical material. Ways in which the audience can contribute to the project and use its resources are also described.

Keywords: economics teaching, mainstream, online, MOOCs, commentaries

JEL Classification: A22

Suggested Citation

Birks, K. Stuart, Teaching Economics: The Wea Textbook Commentaries Project (October 27, 2014). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2515373 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2515373

K. Stuart Birks (Contact Author)

Massey University - Massey Business School ( email )

New Zealand

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