Sunday, 7 September 2014

Try this: "The Economy", the new e-book beta by INET CORE

INET CORE has just released their long-awaited e-book beta on economics principles, The Economy. You can register to read the e-book free here.

The INET CORE project is pretty exciting, and I've been following it closely since its inception. It's headed by Wendy Carlin at University College London, Sam Bowles at the Santa Fe Institute, and Oscar Landerretche at the University of Chile. The stated aim is to teach economics "as if the last three decades had happened". You can read more about the project here, and here is their blog.

Chapter 1 of the e-book is entitled "The Capitalist Revolution" and gives a good flavour for what's ahead. Here's the outline of the chapter:
You will learn:
  • That capitalism is an economic system in which goods are produced by employees and are sold on markets for a profit.
  • That capitalism has changed living standards, the ways in which people interact, and the natural environment.
  • The conditions that enabled capitalist economies to take off.
  • How the Industrial Revolution also transformed the economy.
  • That there are different ways to organise a capitalist economy.
  • That economics is the study of how people interact with each other, and with the natural environment, in producing their livelihoods.

Students who have been in my first-year class (especially ECON110) will know that economic history is important in my teaching, and so is understanding economic theory in context. Chapter 4 is "Strategy, Altruism and Cooperation", and Chapter 5 is "Property, Contract and Power". So, there's lots of interesting bits in this book, and lots of things that make it very different from your run-of-the-mill economics principles text (not least that it's a free online book which will be supported by lots of learning resources for students).

I look forward to reading through this text carefully over the next month or so, and hopefully we can use it (or parts of it) in teaching at Waikato next year.

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