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Online Courses

Heterodox EconomicsEconomics 491: Advanced Topics in Economics: Heterodox Economics

Developed and supervised by Professor Jeff Biddle. Almost all of the economics classes offered at colleges and universities in the US today teach a particular kind of economics, that is, a particular approach to understanding and studying the economy. This kind of economics, alternatively called “neoclassical”, “orthodox” or “modern mainstream” economics, involves, among other things, a specific set of assumptions about human behavior (for example, individuals maximize a stable utility function, firms maximize expected profits), theories derived from those assumptions (for example, the theory of supply and demand), and certain standard research procedures. However, there have been other approaches to studying the economy developed and practiced over the past 200 years, approaches based on alternative assumptions, theories, and research methods. Some of these alternative, or “heterodox”, approaches to economics have had large numbers of followers in the past, and each still has adherents today. These heterodox approaches, including Marxism, Institutionalism, Austrian economics, and Post Keynesianism, are the subject of this course. The focus will be on the basic assumptions, core theories, and approaches to economic research employed by those who embrace the heterodox approaches, and how the heterodox approaches differ from orthodox economics.

Most of the course material is delivered in lecture style via video segments, although some reading is assigned. The total elapsed time of all the assigned video is roughly equivalent to the number of in-class contact hours that would be scheduled for a 3 credit, one semester course. Students will be evaluated based on their performance on a midterm and a final exam, each consisting mainly of true-false and multiple choice questions.

Exam Policy

All exams must be taken in the presence of a proctor. Arrangements will be available for students to take the exams at the East Lansing campus. Students who cannot take the exam at the East Lansing campus due to distance or time constraints must make alternative arrangements. Acceptable alternatives include proctoring by an MSU instructor for students enrolled in a study abroad program, proctoring by base personnel for students serving in the U.S. military, or taking the exam at a certified testing center. A list of certified testing centers may be found at http://www.ncta-testing.org/cctc/find.php. Note that testing centers may charge a fee for their services, or have restricted hours of operation. These are the only testing options available for examinations, and only students able to use one of these options should enroll. No exams, except as listed above, will be given outside the United States.


Michigan State University Department of Economics