Our staff has been collaborating with professional economists to plan the Economic Fundamentals curriculum. We all came in with different visions and perspectives on how this course should be conducted. It was my vision to teach the course with an “Ecological Economics” prospective. We had some interesting conversations of investigating an econ class from an environmental or ecological view. We discussed whether we should provide a specific perspective on a course.
What does an ecological or environmental economics course mean?
National Bureau of Economic Research: “[…] Environmental Economics […] undertakes theoretical or empirical studies of the economic effects of national or local environmental policies around the world […]. Particular issues include the costs and benefits of alternative environmental policies to deal with air pollution, water quality, toxic substances, solid waste, and global warming.” (https://www.nber.org/workinggroups/ee/ee.html)
Also, ecological economics integrates the interdependence and coevolution of human economies and natural ecosystems. It is different from environmental economics, which is the mainstream economic understanding of the environment,and maintaining natural capital.
After some discussion, we concluded that the course should be presented in a fundamental basic form. The students should be given freedom to decide the importance of ecological/environmental impacts on the economy. We finalized the course with some great guiding questions and project ideas. I’m very excited to see this course come into fruition this coming term.