Earlier this month Harvard Economics 10 students demanded that Professor Gregory Mankiw refrain from teaching them economic theories with which they intend to disagree.
Wednesday November 2, 2011
Dear Professor Mankiw—
Today, we are walking out of your class, Economics 10, in order to express our discontent with the bias inherent in this introductory economics course. We are deeply concerned about the way that this bias affects students, the University, and our greater society.
As Harvard undergraduates, we enrolled in Economics 10 hoping to gain a broad and introductory foundation of economic theory that would assist us in our various intellectual pursuits and diverse disciplines, which range from Economics, to Government, to Environmental Sciences and Public Policy, and beyond. Instead, we found a course that espouses a specific—and limited—view of economics that we believe perpetuates problematic and inefficient systems of economic inequality in our society today.
The students complained that Adam Smith’s economic theories should not be presented as "more fundamental or basic than, for example, Keynesian theory," apparently not realizing that Keynes is covered later on in the course. The students continue:
Harvard graduates play major roles in the financial institutions and in shaping public policy around the world. If Harvard fails to equip its students with a broad and critical understanding of economics, their actions are likely to harm the global financial system. The last five years of economic turmoil have been proof enough of this.
We are walking out today to join a Boston-wide march protesting the corporatization of higher education as part of the global Occupy movement. Since the biased nature of Economics 10 contributes to and symbolizes the increasing economic inequality in America, we are walking out of your class today both to protest your inadequate discussion of basic economic theory and to lend our support to a movement that is changing American discourse on economic injustice.
Scary thought, that students like these might someday have a major impact on public policy, free from the encumbrances of unwanted and distasteful economic theory.