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An economics sell-out

Letter to the Editor | Monday, September 14, 2009

“Anyone who becomes involved with Notre Dame is changing the course of lives and nations and institutions by shaping young people who are not only intelligent, but also thoughtful, compassionate, and understanding.” – Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, University President, 1952-1987.

The Economics Department at Notre Dame has historically been known as a place where students could integrate issues of social justice, equality, and religion into their study of economics, in line with the Catholic identity of the University. The program offered elective courses in political economy and the history of economic thought, both of which put economics into a wider social context and are only offered at a handful of programs across the nation. After the split in 2003, the department of Economics and Policy Studies maintained this commitment to pluralism and social justice, while the newly formed department of Economics and Econometrics focused solely on the mainstream neoclassical theory and mathematical approaches to economics.

If the department of Economics and Policy Studies is disbanded, as Dean McGreevy stated in the article by John Tierney, and those economists are not allowed to join the Department of Economics, the University is saying that they do not consider pluralism a legitimate voice in economics. Their pursuit for high rankings takes precedence over everything, even if it means sacrificing Notre Dame’s commitment to social justice. I deeply value my education in economics at Notre Dame, one that included critical thinking in the tradition of the liberal arts alongside mathematical rigor. My concern is that future students of economics will not find any room for compassion or understanding in their economics curriculum. Undermining pluralism in economics is for Notre Dame to betray its most precious beliefs.

Matthew Panhans


Duncan Hall

Sept. 14