1. Report research on the teaching of economics, and cultivate
heightened interest in the teaching of economics and the
scholarship of teaching.
Pedagogical issues will be a central feature,
and will encompass work on the teaching of economics in
diverse contexts, including large and small classes, undergraduate
and postgraduate classes, distance learning, issues confronting
foreign students on-shore and off-shore, and issues related
to the teaching of fee-paying MBA and other post-graduate
groups from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Though economics
is the prime focus, consideration will also be given to
work on other subjects that has a demonstrated relevance
for the teaching of economics.
Such issues will also involve evolutionary issues in the
teaching of economics, in terms both of effective ways to
teach evolving theory and of evolving technology
with which to teach that theory (including on-line teaching).
Recognition will be given to the fact that economics as
a discipline has not fared well in CEQ results
(course experience questionnaire results) since the reporting
of those results began in Australia. Nor has economics teaching
typically been well received in the USA or UK, according
to survey evidence. In that context the relevance to teaching
of changing administrative arrangements in universities
will also be highlighted (eg in terms of contemporary quality
assurance procedures and other government policy changes
in Australia and New Zealand).
2. Report research on the nexus between teaching
and research (including research on the diverse,
changing and potentially conflicting incentives within the
academic industry). Papers exploring the extent to which
research and teaching activities are complementary or competitive
will be welcomed.
3 Recognise the relevance of some more deep-seated
implicit assumptions and issues of economic philosophy
embedded in what is commonly taught, (as in Sen’s
work on economics and ethics, for example). Inter alia,
the question arises as to the way in which students respond
to economics taught as a path to scientific certainty, as
against economics taught as reflecting unsettled debate
and vigorous controversy.
4 Recognise the place of history in the teaching
of economics. Both HET and economic history tend
to play a diminishing role in professional economics training,
as emphasis on technique dominates. This a-historical approach
to the teaching of economics has been criticised by many
influential economists (including Joan Robinson, Leontief,
Myrdal, Colander, and Robert Clower in his acerbic remarks
about the value of much that is published in such prestigious
journals as the AER). This line of criticism has been continued
in the recent growth of heterodox economics associations
in a number of countries (including one for Australia and
New Zealand) and on the web through the Post Autistic
Economics (PAE) newsletter. Historical and institutional
factors will thus provide one focal interest.
5 Recognise interdisciplinary issues important
to the presentation of economics in various contexts. On
the one hand, economics students are not systematically
exposed to the insights of other social sciences and the
conformity or otherwise of their conclusions with those
of economics. On the other hand, other
disciplines within the social sciences and humanities (e.g.
the Social Work profession) do not always include even an
introduction to economics for their students, notwithstanding
that economic issues are often very important determinants
of the environment within which they operate. More fundamentally,
questions arise as to whether social science is more than
the sum of its respective parts, and as to whether the roots
of economics can be fully understood in isolation from the
history not only of economics but also of politics and philosophy.
6 Establish a link to the teaching of economics
in the secondary schools, given that tertiary enrolments
in economics reflect fluctuating enrolments in economics
in the secondary schools.
7 Encourage on-going surveys of student response
to the teaching of economics across Australasian
(and other) institutions, including response to experimental
teaching and to differences between institutional approaches.
(c.f. Colander and Klamer’s 1988 survey of economics
students at USA ivy league institutions.)
8 Monitor trends in the teaching of economics
in the Australian and New Zealand university systems (such
as enrolments, staff-student ratios, international-domestic
student ratios, offshore offerings etc), and globally, and
the implications of those trends for various funding arrangements.
9 Promote a series of papers on specialised themes
within the overall province of the teaching of economics
e.g. on the teaching of Principles courses, the teaching
of History of Economic Thought, the teaching of intermediate
microeconomics and macroeconomics, the teaching of development
economics, and likewise regarding teaching in such streams
as Quantitative Methods, large first year classes, non-English
speaking background students, the teaching of economics
to non-economists, product differentiation in teaching economics,
and professional education in economics in executive education
programs outside conventional university contexts.
10. Monitor the measuring and rewarding of quality
(economics) teaching within Australasian universities.