Grants / Projects we are funding

CORE – teaching economics as if the last 30 years had happened: University College London

Grant details


Awarded on:01/06/2015


Area of interest

Systems change

CORE is ‘Curriculum Open-access Resources for Economics’ and is the work of academic economists who aim to transform how economics is taught. The free online introductory economics resource seeks to inform and empower learners to debate and address the systemic challenges of financial instability, economic disparity and environmental sustainability.

What is the issue?

The Curriculum Open-access Resources for Economics (CORE) project arose from the growing dissatisfaction with the economics curriculum among teachers, employers and especially students in the wake of the financial crisis of 2008.

The economics curriculum has become narrow and neglects central issues of instability, inequality and environmental sustainability. Behind this narrowing of the curriculum was the shift in economic policy-making and public understanding of economics over the preceding decades toward the view that markets of all kinds – including financial and labour markets – work well enough without substantial government regulation.

In order to succeed in changing the way economics is understood and used in practice, CORE believes it is necessary to change the way it is taught in universities and eventually, we hope, in secondary schools as well. Universities are the training ground for future thought leaders. The study of economics also shapes how ordinary citizens understand the policy options for their communities and for the nation.

What will the project try to achieve?

CORE is the cooperative (and voluntary) work of an international team of academic economists. The project’s long-term aim is to transform how economics is taught so that the knowledge of economics will empower students and eventually citizens, helping to change the decisions made by policy makers.

The project’s short-term objective is to change what is taught to students when they begin the study of economics at university. Since 2013, CORE has been working in the production of a free open-access on-line ebook called The Economy. The beta version of this ebook was launched in September 2014 and is now being used in a variety of universities across the world as the main material for first year students of economics.

The CORE project uses new developments in economics to put the dynamics of wealth creation and innovation in a capitalist economy at the heart of the learning process, along with the attendant challenges of growing inequality and financial and environmental sustainability. With this course people will learn that economics is about fairness as well as efficiency, and that an economics education includes the normative and analytical assessment of issues from intellectual property rights to redistribution.

The CORE approach is to teach concepts and tools on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, by first confronting the learner with a real-world problem or puzzle and then illustrating how abstract analytical tools can clarify it. This contrasts sharply with most introductory pedagogy, which teaches abstract concepts first and applications (often much) later.

The CORE project’s next challenges are in three key areas. The first one is to produce The Economy 1.0 for widespread use for launch in September 2017. The second is to make CORE attractive to teachers by producing teaching and learning materials and running workshops with new and potential adopters. The third is to contribute to the creation of communities around economics teaching and learning.

Who might be interested in this project?

The project will be of interest to students, teachers, lecturers not only of economics but of related social sciences, universities, secondary schools, non-governmental organizations, community groups with an interest in economics and resilient economies, economic and financial journalists and potential employers of economics graduates in the private and public sector

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