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Economy, Society, and Public Policy – new e-book for understanding economic methods

By Nuffield Foundation

The CORE project has launched beta versions of the first five units of a new eBook called Economy, Society and Public Policy (ESPP), which have been funded by the Nuffield Foundation.

Wendy Carlin, CORE course director, desribes the new e-book as being for “all of those people, whether they’re in university or not, who are interested in better understanding the world. And I think we’ve realised over the last few years that there’s a real hunger out there, there’s a real curiosity on the part of the public and a very broad group of students to understand what’s going on in the economy.”

The CORE Project is an open-access economics reform initiative, based at University College London. Its signature online course, The Economy, uses real-world data to teach topics such as inequality, unemployment and the environment that are rarely taught in traditional economics courses. The new e-book is designed to introduce social science students to economic methods.

A quantitative and genuinely social science

Modern economics can empower students and citizens to understand and articulate reasoned views on some of the most pressing policy problems facing our societies: financial instability, environmental degradation, wealth creation and innovation, and inequality. These are all topics of interest to students across the social sciences, but they are rarely encountered in introductory economics courses.

As a result, policy-oriented students often find themselves having to choose between a quantitative course of study – economics – that is only minimally social in content, or a socially-oriented course of study that provides little training in quantitative scientific methods. However, recent developments in the discipline make it possible for economics to be at once quantitative and a genuinely social science.

As well as introducing social science students to the discipline of economics, the new course (Economy, Society and Public Policy) also aims to encourage the development of quantitative social science. As with all CORE materials, the course will be delivered online, and will be open-access for individuals and institutions anywhere who wish to use it. Two our our Q-Step Centres working in partnership with COREecon to develop and test the course materials.

ESPP will be innovative because it will focus not only on learning economics, but on using real-world data to teach data-handling skills that are becoming valuable in many courses, and many jobs.

Get involved

The CORE ESPP team are releasing the first five units now for three reasons:

  • If anyone has an existing need, they can use them now. Although this is the first beta, the units are complete and have been reviewed by experienced teachers.
  • Use them to evaluate whether ESPP meets the user’s needs. The other units, plus supporting material, will be published online during 2018, in time for the Fall semester. The team hopes many will be inspired to use their materials on their courses.
  • We want your feedback. Every response is read and noted, wherever it comes from. It improves the units they have finished, and guides their work on the ones that are still being created. As with The Economy, they will use any opinions to crowdsource a better textbook.

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We improve people’s lives by funding research that informs social policy, primarily in EducationWelfare and Justice. We also fund student programmes that give young people skills and confidence in science and research.

We offer our grant-holders the freedom to frame questions and enable new thinking. Our research must stand up to rigorous academic scrutiny, but we understand that to be successful in effecting change, it also needs to be relevant to people’s experience.