Sustainability in the Curriculum and Teaching of Economics: Transforming Introductory Macroeconomics


Sustainability is arguably the outcome of a holistically integrated economic system. However, when the marketplace fails to assess the “true” cost of production, inclusive of resource regeneration, waste creation and disposal, and unexpected externalities and when simultaneously, consumption forms the basis of evaluating progress, the outcome of an economic system can fall significantly short of being “sustainable.” Underenumerated costs can promote unsustainable consumption and may also compound the issue through the indirect promotion of cultural values as these relate to consumption and disposal. Given the behavioral and explanatory foundation of economics, it is incumbent on the part of instructors of economics to address sustainability from the perspective of market failures within the context of a holistic market assessment and coincident social values and to then relay the concept of sustainable development, inclusive of environmental, economic, and social equity. In this paper the author promotes the explicit integration of sustainability into the introductory economics curriculum. Evaluating the implicit consumption-based value structure inherent in the teaching of introductory economics, the author establishes a foundation for discussion of the relationship between the implicit values integrated into indicators of economic progress and current economic issues, specifically addressing the anthropomorphic attribution of global environmental degradation and related economic and social disparity. Through an outcomes-based discussion, the author provides a foundation for instructors of economics to provide students with an ability to contextualize sustainability and the evolution of the concept of sustainable development. The discussion provides a replicable process for the explicit integration of sustainability, along with,

Author Information
Madhavi Venkatesan, Bridgewater State University, USA

Paper Information
Conference: NACE2014
Stream: Curriculum and Pedagogy

This paper is part of the NACE2014 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon