Innovation and Pluralism in Teaching Economics: Short Report

Over the past two months the Institute for Education and Social Innovation (ibugi), Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development (HU), and Exploring Economics (EE) have run a series of workshops under the title Innovation and Pluralism in Teaching Economics. This workshop series, funded by the DAAD with funds from the Foreign Office, aimed to introduce principles of pluralist economics and creative teaching strategies to junior academic faculty from Egyptian universities, and to connect with senior faculty members to help provide a supportive environment for the junior staff to apply their new knowledge. To do this we partnered with established academics from Germany and beyond to deliver four workshops taking the junior participants from an introduction to pluralist economics through to the design of courses and teaching sessions specific to the participants’ contexts. A fifth workshop then worked with senior academics to explore the complimentary role that pluralist approaches can play in established courses.

The first workshop led by Dr Svenja Flechtner and Kevin Rösch from the University of Siegen started with a chance for the organisers and the participants to get to know each other a little and learn more about the academic and working context of the participants so that each of the workshops could more closely meet their needs. From there, Svenja and Kevin outlined understandings of mainstream economics, the place and role of pluralism in economic studies, and what a pluralist approach to economics in the academy might look like.

Workshop 2, led by Dr Joris Tieleman and Sam de Muijnck from Our New Economy built on the foundations of the first workshop by exploring the possibilities of adapting existing courses to include a pluralist approach. Drawing on the tools available in their book Economy Studies, Joris and Sam worked with the participants to look at their existing teaching requirements and think about how they might design their own course from scratch.

The third workshop ran by Dr Danielle Guizzo from the University of Bristol focused more specifically on the inclusion of pluralist approaches in writing course descriptions, selecting learning outcomes, and designing assignments. The participants continued to develop the courses started in Workshop 2, adding greater detail and discussing the importance of an alignment between, aims, outcomes, and assessment procedures.

Workshop 4, the final junior workshop, was led by Dr Alyssa Schneebaum and Dr Hendrik Theine and moved from overall course design to creative pedagogical tools. Alyssa and Hendrik shared their own experiences of teaching pluralist economics, highlighting the important relationship between a pluralist approach to subject matter and a pluralist approach to pedagogy through the incorporation of different modes of learning and interaction with students. The participants reflected on their own experiences as both students and teachers and discussed how they can develop their pedagogical practices in the future.

In the final workshop of the project, Dr Svenja Flechtner and Kevin Rösch returned to work with senior faculty from Heliopolis University to explore the background of pluralist economics and the role it can play in complementing the existing programmes of study at HU.

Throughout all four workshops Dr Andrew Brogan (ibugi) a specialist in higher education pedagogy, and Luca Kokol (EE), a Master Economics student, were on hand to offer their knowledge, experience and perspectives and to provide a consistency to the workshop teams. Victoria Timpe (HU), Project Manager at the International Affairs Office, was invaluable in reaching out to participants and helping with technical issues from the Egyptian side.

One of the key objectives of the project was to foster connections between German and Egyptian institutions and academics, and we can certainly say this was a success. Everyone involved had the opportunity to expand their networks at both the individual and institutional level, and discussions are already taking place for some follow-up sessions at the start of 2022 to keep these new-found connections active.

All of us involved in the organization of the project would like to extend our thanks to both the lecturers and the participants for making the project a success, and to the DAAD for the funding which made the project possible in the first place.

Dr. Andrew Brogan, Victoria Timpe, Luca Kokol