Measuring up Reply

SAJE In the latest issue of the South African Journal of Economics Derek Yu, Atoko Kasongo and Mariana Moses examine the performance of South African Economics departments over the period 2005 to 2014. They compare staff profiles, courses and the curriculum, as well as research activities. Whether you are a prospective student looking to join a good school, or an alumnus looking for bragging rights, it makes for an interesting read. So how does the NWU’s Potchefstroom campus measure up?

On the teaching side we have the same core modules that everyone is offering, like Macro, Micro, Public Economics, or Econometrics, but no niche modules like Game Theory, or Health Economics, or Economic History. The article missed our specialisations in International Trade and in Risk Management (4 modules each). And since the data were collected we also added the Agricultural economics programme. That is quite a bit of variety.

On the research side we are punching above our weight. For a relatively small group of staff members we are well qualified and publishing articles. We were 16 full time academics when Derek collected the data (compared to 23 at UP, 30 at Stellenbosch, and 38 at UCT) and 11 of the 16 had PhDs. Currently we are 19 when you add the agricultural economists and all three have PhDs. We have also added one more NRF rating for a total of 4 rated researchers. In terms of research output per capita per annum we ranked 5th, just after Stellenbosch and just before UJ.

Writing as the School director, I have to say that a result like this humbles me. I am thankful for the hard work of a dedicated team. Keep up the good work everyone!

The future of Economics Reply

This semester Me Carike Claassen is organising a number of events for the third year Development Economics students to engage with a few issues of the day. Last week we showed the documentary The end of poverty and this week sees a discussion about the future of Economics.

Econ curriculum discussion This is quite a hot topic and we thought that it may be useful to provide some background reading:

  • The Economist is a good place to start with an article on changing the Economics curriculum.
  • Diane Coyle’s VoxEU post lists some of the common reform themes and what it may mean in practice.
  • Core-Econ is a project that develops the resources needed to change the curriculum. The tag line is: “Teaching Economics as if the last three decades had happened”.
  • Heavy weight economists are also taking on one another and recently Paul Romer had the econoblogosphere going with his criticism of “mathiness” in Economics. The Noahpinion blog has the highlights. Justin Fox also writes about it at the Bloomberg View.

The issues have also been discussed in the South African context. Have a look at this Daily Maverick article on the scholarship, policy and practice of Economics in SA.

Economists, of course, love a good argument with a “on the one hand, and on the other hand” and have replied to the debate in numerous posts. Here are links to a few of those:

Come and join the discussion at the coffee shop.