DETAILED information About the subject
Description: This nine-week course offers a pluralist introduction to political economy and economics. We will examine nine (9) 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 set reading and then participate in a weekly 90 minute tutorial discussion (with a short break at the 45 minute mark). 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. You can choose from either a face to face or online tutorial. If you occasionally want to switch to an online tutorial (or vice versa) this is usually possible upon request.
Dates and times
Term 1. (Melbourne) Face to Face Tutorials starts on 4th of February 2020. You can attend a tutorial on either Tuesdays (6.00-7.30pm) or Wednesdays (6.00-7.30pm).
Term 2 (Melbourne). A Term 2 class (9 weeks starting Wed 29th April) may be offered subject to sufficient enrolments. If you think you might be interested in enrolling, please register an expression of interest and we will be in touch.
Term 3 or 4 (Sydney). Face to face and online tutorials are currently planned to start in Sydney in the second half of 2020. The course will run for 9 weeks and will be scheduled so that it does not cut across school holidays. The face to face tutorial will be at a central location that is accessible via public transport. If you are interested in studying with us in Sydney please register an expression of interest and we will get back to you once all details are finalised.
The online classes can start at any point in the year where we have at least five enrolments and we can successfully negotiate a time that is viable for those participants. If you are interested in an online class please register an expression of interest indicating what times would suit you.
Location: For the first semester iteration of this subject we have the use of a splendid space at Prosper Australia. Level 1, 64 Harcourt Street North Melbourne VIC 3051. Parking should be available and it is accessible via public transport. For those choosing to attend the online tutorial the location is anywhere in the world where there is a reliable internet connection.
Cost: AUD$240 (waged), AUD$170 (unwaged).
Payment: On receipt of your registration, we will invoice you. Payment is usually undertaken by electronic funds transfer. Payment of the invoice will secure your place in the subject.
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 the first class.
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.
Consultation: If you need help with any of the material you are welcome, and indeed encouraged, to ask. We can talk to you before, during or after class, via phone, email or Skype/Zoom.
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 accreditation in the form of a degree 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 provided verification of your participation and engagement with the subject.
Student feedback: This course ran for the first-time in the fourth quarter of 2019 and was well received. Certainly, from my own perspective it was a really satisfying and enjoyable teaching experience. I was thrilled with the high quality of the discussion, the goodwill and camaraderie. I am keen to do it all over again! Student feedback can be viewed here.
Week 1 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 2 Evolutionary political economy
An examination of how evolutionary thinking, particularly Darwinian evolutionary thinking has been applied to illuminate economic and social reality. We will look at the ideas of Malthus, Veblen, Schumpeter, Nelson & Winter. We will also contemplate whether there are generalised Darwinian process present in all economic and social phenomena.
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.
Week 5 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.
Week 6 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 7 austrian economics
Week 8 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 9 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.