DETAILED information About the subject
Description: This ten-week course offers a pluralist introduction to political economy and economics. We will examine eight (8) competing schools of thought, each of which offer an original and distinctive illumination of economic and social reality. The course offers a level of learning that would at least match that which is offered by a University. However, you do not need to be connected to a university or to have studied political economy or economics previously to enrol in this particular subject.
Design: This subject is taught in ‘flipped classroom’ mode whereby you first view an online lecture, then undertake some suggested reading and then participate in a weekly 90 minute tutorial zoom discussion (with a short break at the 45 minute mark). Tutorial sizes have a maximum upper limit of 19 people and are typically a bit less than this in order to generate a conversational, easy-going and genuinely interactive experience. The lectures and readings are all downloadable and may be done whenever you like. The lectures can either be viewed, or simply listened to as podcasts. On one one help is provided whenever you need to clarify anything.
Commencement date and discussion group time(s)
Term 1, 2021 Discussion Groups starts Tuesday 26th of January 6pm to 7.30pm and runs for 10 weeks finish in the week starting 30th of March.
Note that more discussion group times will almost certainly be created as enrolments build, including times that will be more suitable to those living outside of Australia, so if if none of the currently listed times suit you then please contact me via this form, letting me know what times could potentially suit you and I will let you know if suitable options become available.
Cost (major currencies list below, contact us for costs in other currencies)
Australian Dollars AUD$225 (waged), AUD$180 (unwaged).
US Dollars US$160 (waged) US$130 (unwaged)
Euros EUR135 (waged) EUR110 (unwaged)
UK Pounds GBP120 (waged) GBP100 (unwaged)
Refunds: If you attend the first class and find that for some reason it is not what you are seeking then we can provide you with a full refund – provided that we are notified within 7 days of your payment.
Assessment: There are regular questions and answers to allow you to self-test your knowledge, but the results of such self-tests are only available to you. Tutorial discussions are also a great opportunity to test and clarify your ideas.
Accreditation: The purpose of the course is to provide you with a high-quality, accessible, university-level introduction to political economy and economics rather than to provide formal accreditation in the form of a degree, certificate or similar. However, if you undertake and complete the course, you can obviously list that you have done so on your resume and we are able to provide verification of your participation and engagement with the subject.
Student feedback: Previous student feedback can be viewed here
Week 1 Political Economy AS An Area of Knowledge
This week provides an introduction to the field of political economy. Particular attention is given to explaining its relationship with orthodox economics (which we study in weeks 4 and 5). Key concepts in political economy are also introduced: complexity, evolution, path-dependence, power, uncertainty, dynamics.
Week 2 institutional political economy
It is sometimes imagined that the economy is a system of markets when it is in fact a system of institutions (i.e. formal and informal rules). Whilst the market is definitely a central economic institution, it is necessarily nested inside other institutions and these other institutions exert a profound influence over how markets work. Lectures, readings and discussions will introduce you to key ideas in institutional political economy and its key figures such as Veblen, Galbraith and Myrdal.
Week 3 Behavioural economics
Behavioural economics brings psychological insights and methods into economic decision making. A major finding of this school of thought is that our decision making is often surprisingly poor. We consider what (if any) policy implications result from our regularly poor decisions, including contemplating the use of behavioural ‘nudges.’ We also contemplate how behavioural economics might (and might not) improve various real world outcomes.
Week 4 neoclassical Economics
Neoclassical economics (sometimes called ‘mainstream economics’ or ‘traditional economics’) is something every political economist needs a working knowledge of. The ideas are presented in an accessible manner by focusing on understanding and evaluating the underlying ideas, rather than getting bogged down in technical or mathematical details. If you are seeking to better understand (and better evaluate) the way economists make sense of the world, this material should be both interesting and useful to you. We concentrate in this week of neoclassical microeconomics.
Week 5 neoclassical Economics
We continue our examination of neoclassical economics, turning out attention to macroeconomics. In doing so, we will also introduced basic macroeconomic concepts that are relevant to all schools of thought.
Week 6 Post Keynesian political economy
We look at the often badly misunderstood ideas of J M Keynes, particularly his very important ideas concerning the fundamental uncertainty of the future, and the role of money in a market economy. We explain the difference between the Keynes as understood in the economic mainstream versus the ideas as they are expressed in his own writings. We also contemplate the role that Keynesian ideas could play in confronting contemporary challenges such as economic instability, stagnation, inequality and environmental constraint.
Post Keynesian economics has some common ground with modern monetary theory, so there are some additional readings, including several written by MMTers themselves, for those that are interested in pursuing what (in my personal view) can regarded as an extension, or branch, of Post Keynesianism.
Week 7 Radical political economy
Like Keynes, Marx is often badly misunderstood and misrepresented (as much by some of his supporters as by his critics). In this week we look at the actual ideas of Marx. We contemplate the strengths and weaknesses of Marxian analysis, evaluate its relevance to contemporary issues and challenges. Whether you are a fan, critical or in-between, you should find a scholarly examination of Marx’s key ideas illuminating and stimulating.
Week 8 austrian economics
Week 9 Feminist political economy
Feminist political economists (or feminist economists) seek to illuminate and remedy recurrent and often quite serious gender blind-spots in economic and social analysis to thereby produce better economic inquiry and policy analysis for all. We will examine the key ideas in feminist political economy and look at the policy implications of its analysis.
Week 10 ecological political economy
Ecological political economy is an interdisciplinary or transdisciplinary area of knowledge whose foundation stone is the recognition that the economic system sits inside a social system which in turn needs to exist inside the opportunities and constraints of an environmental system. We examine the key ideas and figures in this school. We give particular focus to evaluating de-growth versus steady-state versus green-growth economic systems.