Economics NEW YORK, May 16, 2019 — Barnard College announced today that members of the College’s Economics Department have been awarded a $1 million grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation. The grant will support CORE Academy, an initiative dedicated to the reform of economics education and enrichment of economic discourse. Barnard faculty will work with colleagues from Columbia University and other institutions to produce open-access teaching and learning materials designed to facilitate a deep understanding of real-world events.
“With CORE, Barnard faculty and students have a chance to delve into many of the opportunities and challenges facing the world,” said President Sian Leah Beilock. “By connecting issues like inequality, the future of work, and the environment to economics education, we are helping to enable the next generation of scholars to address the pressing issues of today.”
In the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis, Wendy Carlin of University College London brought together a global collaborative of leading economists to spearhead the Curriculum Open-access Resources in Economics (CORE) project. Since its launch in 2013, CORE’s innovative curriculum has been adopted by 240 colleges and universities in 44 countries. CORE Academy will further CORE’s development, cultivating a community of academic experts, content creators, and classroom instructors to develop empirically motivated and historically informed economics course materials for U.S. students.
“Introductory courses ought to give students an understanding of the major economic issues of our time — inequality and sustainability, automation and the future of work, globalization, and immigration — but seldom do such topics get discussed there,” said Barnard Economics Department Chair Rajiv Sethi, who will be leading the initiative with Homa Zarghamee, Suresh Naidu, Rena Rosenberg, and Sarah Thomas. “Because the standard U.S. economics curriculum has changed little over the last half century, it showcases less and less of the field’s expanding scope. Aligning the curriculum with cutting-edge contemporary research will also help us attract strong, socially engaged students to economics courses, the profession at large, and to public policy more generally.”
More than 1.5 million students enroll in at least one undergraduate economics course per year, and approximately 40,000 receive a bachelor’s degree in the subject. While economics is among the most popular majors at Barnard, fewer than 30% of economics majors in the United States as a whole are women; this figure is lower than the corresponding figures for mathematics (40%), earth sciences (40%), chemistry (50%), and biology (60%). Economics majors also tend to come from more economically privileged families and are 50% more likely to have parents who are top managers and professionals than students of other majors.
“The success of CORE Academy rests on its ability to recruit some of the best teacher-scholars in higher education,” said Provost and Dean of the Faculty Linda Bell. “This generous funding from the Hewlett Foundation will help us to expand CORE across U.S. educational institutions, which we believe can increase the interest in economics from incoming first-years, particularly in populations underrepresented in the discipline, like women and first-generation students. A key difference in how