Embedding sustainability in the economics curriculum
A photo showing a small train track running through a busy urban area

Embedding sustainability in the economics curriculum

Green House Core Group member Andrew Mearman has co-written a new version of a chapter in the Handbook for Economics Lecturers, created by the Economics Network.

Embedding Sustainability in the Economics Curriculum
Revised Chapter Co-written by Andrew Mearman

The new chapter updates the previous version from 2012, written by Andrew Mearman and Anthony Plumridge, with new material from ecological macroeconomics and, drawing on the expertise of Lory Barile, new insights from behavioural economics.

The chapter offers economics lecturers and tutors guidance on how to embed different dimensions of sustainability in their teaching, depending on what scope they have to do so. Often teachers have limited scope to change what they are teaching, so the chapter offers advice on low-effort ways to incorporate sustainability content and thinking. For example, it discusses how a typical game devoted to understanding diminishing returns in production can be augmented to consider materials and design for sustainability. The chapter also discusses co-curricular activities such as campus walks and living labs.

For teachers with more scope to reform their teaching, or even write a new course, the chapter offers possible structures of traditional economics principles and microeconomics modules, including suggestions of how typical concepts can be augmented. For the first time, too, the chapter includes links to extensive resources and case studies.

From a Green House perspective, the chapter contributes to a rethinking of economics teaching, putting sustainability closer to the heart of its practice. It offers the already persuaded frameworks for changing their material in a time-efficient way. That might even persuade the more sceptical to also make their changes. The chapter also highlights more radical, more fundamental critiques of economics, again providing economics teachers with help in incorporating these.