Fascinating. Mankiw is the economist for the Republican National Committee, so there may be more than a little politics to this, but nevertheless, he should have taught at least some Keynes, considering what's going on in the world right now. Otherwise how are students to evaluate the ongoing debate over spending?
This is an open letter, so no-one should complain if I republish it here.
Here's the url:
And the letter:
Economics 10 walkout.
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
A legitimate academic study of economics must include a critical
discussion of both the benefits and flaws of different economic
simplifying models. As your class does not include primary sources and
rarely features articles from academic journals, we have very little
access to alternative approaches to economics. There is no justification
for presenting Adam Smith’s economic theories as more fundamental or
basic than, for example, Keynesian theory.
Care in presenting an unbiased perspective on economics is
particularly important for an introductory course of 700 students that
nominally provides a sound foundation for further study in economics.
Many Harvard students do not have the ability to opt out of Economics
10. This class is required for Economics and Environmental Science and
Public Policy concentrators, while Social Studies concentrators must
take an introductory economics course—and the only other eligible class,
Professor Steven Margolin’s class Critical Perspectives on Economics,
is only offered every other year (and not this year). Many other
students simply desire an analytic understanding of economics as part of
a quality liberal arts education. Furthermore, Economics 10 makes it
difficult for subsequent economics courses to teach effectively as it
offers only one heavily skewed perspective rather than a solid grounding
on which other courses can expand. Students should not be expected to
avoid this class—or the whole discipline of economics—as a method of
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. Professor Mankiw, we
ask that you take our concerns and our walk-out seriously.
Concerned students of Economics 10