We congratulate the Department of Economics at the University of Missouri-Columbia for winning the AEA’s inaugural Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity and Inclusion.
Eric Parson’s, one of the leaders of the initiative, credits our textbook, Modern Principles of Economics, with providing the springboard for fruitful discussions and explorations of these ideas. He writes:
[The Economics, Ethics, and Public Policy chapter] really illustrates the authors’ willingness to address these important issues and make them part of the economic conversation. It is also a chapter that I think is unique among Principles textbooks (at least the ones that I have examined, which covers quite a few). This chapter directly exposes students to questions of exploitation and fair and equal treatment and also introduces them to the work of John Rawls, as well as other social justice paradigms. It also includes a discussion of whose views generally count the most in the policy process (in the context of immigration) and, with some additional questioning along these lines, allows students the opportunity to explore their own (sometimes contradictory) viewpoints on this question. Hence, overall the chapter provides a great springboard for thinking about these issues and how these ideas compare and contrast with the typical economic viewpoint.
I always tell the students that this chapter is more about getting them to think critically about the topics and begin asking questions than it is about providing answers. It also gives another nice opportunity to highlight the positive versus normative distinction that we take so seriously in economics and hopefully provides students with some of the tools they will need to discuss these issues intelligently and civilly with one another while considering other viewpoints and worldviews. In fact, I think this chapter is so important that I save it until the end of the term, as it provides an excellent bookend to our semester’s worth of economic study.