OK,OK, I know you’re not going to read 1123 pages. I know you are not going to pay £40.  But if you want to know what’s happening to the teaching of Economics and you haven’t inspected CORE, its time to take a look. ‘The Economy’ is suggesting a new approach at early degree level study. Its free online.

For a start, it may help you to advise students who are thinking about university economics courses. You may be able to point them in the right direction. If they are set on a lifetime in the City, they might not warm to the CORE course.  But if they are concerned primarily about topics such as equality, or rent seeking or how the global economy actually works, they need to know about this.

To get online, just Google CORE economics, select ‘The Economy – CORE’, or key in www.core-econ.org. Select ‘The Economy’. When you’ve chosen the language, you will get ‘Contents’. The first two chapters give you a clue – it really is about the real world, not just the UK or basic theory. You may find the occasional YouTube session with a good speaker too.

If you select CORE – Economics for a Changing World, you can get into the CORE Schools Economics Challenge, which is designed for secondary schools. This year’s theme is ‘Why is addressing climate change so difficult’? Its a 3-minute-video competition. The closing date is 30.09.2019 so you will have to get moving soon.

Some chapters are fairly conventional – like chapter 3, Scarcity, work and choice.  Others are less so – like chapter 11, Rent seeking, price setting and market dynamics. There is some very interesting data here and there. Ever wanted to know what energy prices looked like between 1861 and 2011?  Go to 11.4.

Naturally, this book provides a bit of information on the financial crisis. Some of its writers have links to ‘Rethinking Economics’ and ‘The Econocracy’. It provides undergraduates with a good grounding in the way the global economy works.

The CORE course is still controversial. Probably, theoretically minded economists do not see it as the way forward. The course has been welcomed in universities world wide, though not everywhere in the UK. This means that your students really do need to look carefully at course content before they decide where to apply.

Relevant contributions have appeared in TBE earlier: Sean Vertigan wrote about ‘The Econocracy’ in the Review section of the TBE Spring issue, 2017. Ruth Corderoy wrote about whether it is time for a radical overhaul of what we teach in  ‘Re-thinking Microeconomics’ in Spring 2016.

I am just wondering whether our examiners will be up for a significant review when our government next decides to rethink A level Economics. Of course if it follows the 2008 approach, when the Chief Examiners were given three weeks to produce new specifications, change may be difficult. Now is the time to get thinking about how we can keep the A level approach to the real world, with lots of recent data to study, at the same time as creating a useful introduction to the subject that reflects changes at degree level.

I’d like to hear what you think about these matters. Comments will be very welcome and we could publish them in the next issue. If you are already familiar with all this, your views would be especially welcome.

Nancy Wall, Reviews Editor, enwall@aol.com