Focus on real-world problems and application

Focus on real-world problems and application

Students should learn how to apply diverse theoretical concepts to a range of real-world, messy and complex problems


On an intermediate textbook in microeconomics, for instance, with an introductory part on real-world problems to solve, see, e.g., The Microeconomics of Complex Economies. Evolutionary, Institutional, Neoclassical, and Complexity Perspctives", W. Elsner, T. Heinrich, H. Schwardt (Elsevier/Academic Press 2015).

yes, economic theory left and right went too much inside an hypothetical, false world

However, I'd like to question the notion of reality. Reality is not only a set of data, but really reality is better defined, more integrally defined, when we include the truth of what we feel about it. When we do that we go straight to the actual point we care about

Students will get a better sense of the value of different theoretical frameworks

Students will better see the relevance and impact of different schools of thought

I think it is fine to study aggregate supply, demand models, but space should then be given to critque them. If real world examples don't fit the models, space should be given to how different methodologies/disciplines best analyse them.

Don't they do this already? They should do. So although it might be regarded a a pluralist matter, the students have already become pluralists to a degree when they began to look at more than one side of their subjects.

"Messy and complex" are two words describing what the students would least like to hear. By using my system for understanding macroeconomics as an engineered and logical subject (see my book "Consequential Macroeconomics--Rationalizing About How Our Social System Works"), this unlovely description can be greatly reduced in difficulty so that greater pluralism can then be introduced into the rest of the curriculum. (This is not a gimmick to sell my book, its for free if you send me a request.)

Any economic model that focuses on human perception/worldview, the core of both wellbeing and structures to generate it, needs to address the practical interaction of human diversity. It needs to be experienced for the learning to become effective and practical.

I agree with Alan Freeman who supports the idea for the reason I would want to add the condition that ANY "diverse theoretrical concepts" be grounded in physical reality. This may not be the same thing as what Alan refers to as "Empiricalism". This is because the practices of capitalism may not provide sufficiently compelling empirical evidence to all folk on how capitalism is inequitable, inefficient and unethical. How to fix it at:

Students will be better placed to use economic analysis to benefit human kind.

I've voted 'for' this as for the previous one on teaching schools of thought but the platform only allows comments for and against it seems, so while supportive of the intent, there's nothing wrong with relatively simple problems either, especially to get the hang of things. This is a bit of a quibble, but still worth offering I think. The emphasis here should be on direct relationship with the world, not prejudging how 'messy' it is or isn't.

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The phrase 'real world' is very popular among critical reactions to the mainstream, so this is a key point. More reflectively I'd like to look into the phrase 'empirical' in more detail. The issue is not just whether one studies real world problems (Some very obscure theoretical work eg Arrow-Debreu makes claims in this regard). The issue is a 'reality check' - does one study if the result matches what is observed, and how?

It seems to me that the word that is missing here is *evidence*. And by this I do *not* only mean statistical/econometric analyses. I like what Alberto says about case studies, but in fact there are multiple types of evidence, including economic history, surveys, etc as well as case studies that can be qualitative or quantitative. See (especially section A) for more on this.

I would stress the importance of connecting theory and theoretical analysis to concrete problems and experiences. Example: using theory to explain the concrete development experience of a country; combining theory and case studies. This will enrich students' learning process by increasing their ability in matching theory and its application regardless of theoretical and conceptual boundaries.

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