Evolution of Economic Thought

Instructor: Christian Arnsperger

At Ubiquity, we hold an image and a practice of economics as a living discipline that has concrete implications for everyday life and that is co-created as much by its participants: the general citizens as it is by economists themselves. Economics is an evolving discipline. It does not stay, and never has stayed, fixed in its presuppositions and worldview, the tools it employs, or its vision of its own social role. How it evolves depends a lot on how the system responds to the questions the agents in the economy (government, businesses, legal professions, general citizens, etc.) ask. In this course, through an all-quadrants, all-lines, all-levels approach to economic thinking—called here “Full-Spectrum Economics”— we will journey through the evolution of economic thought in how its assumptions, methods, and language shift over time under the influence of social pressures as well as of professional controversies and cultivate the ability to ask better questions that help the evolution of the economic system.

Course Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course students should be able to:

  1. Become aware of their own power to be agents within the future evolution of economic thought. For this to be so, they need to have become aware of how reductionist even the newest frontline approaches in mainstream economics have remained.
  2. Determine whether an economic approach they encounter is internally consistent by applying an integral approach.
  3. Create fruitful debates between authors that never actually debated with each other (such as Smith and Marx, or Horkheimer, Hayek and Keynes)—not as a mere exercise in intellectual virtuosity, but in order to understand one of the deepest questions posed by economic thought’s future evolution: How can economists and non-economists interact in order to propel today’s system towards a higher evolutionary level?
  4. Be active members of citizens’ discussion groups dealing with the “bottom-up” design of new economic alternatives (such as lodging cooperatives, ecovillages or local currencies), contributing to the discussion various “Okay but…” ideas that might help citizens become more discriminating and critical in their deliberations.
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