November 2nd, 2011
Econintersect: A group of first year economics students at Harvard staged a boycott/walkout today (Wednesday, November 2). An unspecified number of students posted an open letter to Professor Greg Mankiw (pictured) on the Harvard Political Review website. The students made complaints about the limited scope and “bias” in the course syllabus. According to Wikipedia, Mankiw is one of the foremost economists in the world, formerly chief economic advisor to President George W. Bush. Mankiw is known for his work on New Keynesian economics.
From the Harvard Political Review:
Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.
As Harvard undergraduates, we enrolled in Economics 10 hoping to gain a broad and introductory foundation of economic theory that would assist us in our various intellectual pursuits and diverse disciplines, which range from Economics, to Government, to Environmental Sciences and Public Policy, and beyond. Instead, we found a course that espouses a specific—and limited—view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today.
A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.
Hat tip to Alice Marshall