Optimizing Economics Degrees

The New Yorker ran a piece yesterday about the growing number of economics students “rebelling” against the teaching practices that have been observed around economics degrees for years. I highly recommend reading the piece, but the basic premise is that the economic crisis of 2008 opened the eyes of a lot of people, and that economics should be taught with a more real world approach, and less of a mathematical approach.

I completely agree.

While I don’t regret studying economics at NYU, at the time I often found myself lacking any interest in this theoretical practice that I knew had very little basis in real life economies. While professors were stumbling through equations about optimal pricing strategies and markets that were perfectly efficient, I was immersing myself in more traditional finance in my spare time, and specifically, trading related materials.

This led to an observation of massive contradiction in how I was being taught markets should behave versus how they were actually behaving. While I believe the mathematical fundamentals are important to grasp when pursuing an economics degree, I firmly support these student organizations rising up in an effort to maximize the value of their six-figure pieces of paper we call undergraduate degrees. Choosing to major in economics carries a stigma of safety and diversity in job prospects, but that simply isn’t good enough in a world where degrees are becoming more and more commoditized.

Instead, as we look at how to shape and optimize education for today’s world, we should keep an eye on both our curriculum and the student’s goals.

This post originally appeared in the 5/14/2014 TLW Newsletter. Subscribe here.

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