Recharting the history of economic thought

Economics; Stock Exchange

Come and discover a brand new textbook on the history of economic thought, reflecting the true spirit of the SOAS Economics Department. This new textbook has been edited by Kevin Deane and Elisa Van Waeyenberge and mainly brings together authors with different affiliations to the Department, from former students and staff to current colleagues. Most of the authors are also affiliated to Reteaching Economics, an initiative that has sought to raise the visibility of economics lecturers’ efforts to challenge mainstream economics teaching in universities in response to the students’ increased dissatisfaction with traditional economics teaching. 

Recharting the History of Economic Thought offers a radical redesign to teaching and learning about the History of Economic Thought by interrogating the ways in which alternative (and often older) traditions in the history of economic ideas can provide ways forward from the straightjacket imposed by mainstream economics.

The book will be an important pedagogic resource for those teaching economics (and its history), and in particular, for those who have an interest in introducing their students to a plurality of ideas. It brings together a unique collection of heterodox economists’ reflections on what the history of economic thought can teach us about core topics in Economics and does so in a tailored pedagogical way. 

The book grew out of dissatisfaction with traditional ways of teaching the history of economic thought that failed to elicit students’ enthusiasm. The book pioneers a new approach which seeks to teach the history of economic ideas thematically, instead of chronologically. There are some clear benefits with this approach. First, it uses the teaching of the history of economic thought as a way of introducing pluralist economics teaching. Second, it enables conversations with students about some of the problems with neoclassical economics and to inspire critical reflection about the discipline. 

Recharting the History of Economic Thought includes 15 substantive chapters which each explore a different economic question, ranging from key conceptual issues such as ‘Are we all rational optimising agents?’ and ‘How are goods and services valued in the economy?’ to applied questions such as ‘What causes economic crises? And what do we do about them?’

The book also covers some more contemporary questions that are not typically found in HET modules, such as ‘How does economics address gender?’ and ‘How does economics address the environment?’. The book’s chapters follow a similar structure. They start by outlining the mainstream/neoclassical approach to a particular question, and then contrast this with alternative approaches. This makes the textbook a unique resource to support the embedding of pluralist economics within the teaching of the history of economic thought as well as other core economics modules. We hope that teachers across universities will adopt it enthusiastically. 

Join us on 1 July 2020 at 16.00 for the online launch and to e-meet some of the contributors. 

Elisa van Waeyenberge is Co-Head of the Economics Department at SOAS.

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