Economics is deeply practical, and even basic economic concepts can help with analyzing everything from personal finance, to national politics, to institutional dynamics, to everyday decision-making under uncertainty. Introductory economics courses, however, often elide this practicality by focusing on technical material rather than examples from, and applications to, real life. This choice has implications for who goes on to study economics. Black, Indigenous, Latina/o/x, and women undergraduates or others who could study more economics may not always see its relevance to compelling issues like climate change, public health, inequality, or the future of work.
Funds from this grant will help develop a new approach to teaching introductory economics built around support for a text to be called Understanding the Economy. This book will not only cover basic concepts, but also their relevance to important social issues often skipped over in first-year courses. Such topics range from historical examples like the economics of American slavery to current controversies over the use of affirmative action in education and employment. Beyond producing the book, funds will also support outreach and dissemination efforts. Faculty will, for example, receive training on how to handle topics sensitively in the classroom. Less well-resourced institutions will also receive help with taking full advantage of all the new, inclusive, and exciting curricular materials that Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences is developing in cooperation with a wide range of other institutions.