A new intro course and ebook for two and four-year institutions in the US

The U.S. system of higher education is failing less well-off students. To address this injustice and waste of talent, CORE Econ, in collaboration with The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University and Honor Education (Honor Ed), launched the enCOREage project in September 2022 that aims to attract and empower a more diverse demographic of undergraduate students and instructors – many at minority-serving institutions – to the study of economics.

The project will create a new course, and an introductory e-textbook, Understanding the Economy, to engage with students’ lived experience of disappointment and inequality in less well-resourced two and four-year institutions in the US. The aim is to reduce impediments to achievement and enable more equitable outcomes, enhanced by the introduction of a new learning platform.

Six actions to active enCOREage goals:

  1. Leveraging CORE Econ’s general approach that engages students primarily through a focus on pressing societal issues they care about most. These issues are largely ignored by traditional intro economics texts: inequalities (both among and within countries), poverty, climate change and sustainability, innovation, and the future of work, among others.
  2. The enCOREage ebook and course will help students acquire both the skills (such as evidence-based critical thinking and data literacy skills) and the confidence to sustain them in their college careers and boost their motivation and employability.
  3. The course starts with big idea- and big problem-centered subject matter, drawing in students in and immersing them in modern economics as actors in the economy, through lived experience, rather than as detached bystanders.
  4. enCOREage will extend CORE Econ’s success by developing, testing, and disseminating new features through best practices in modern learning science, social psychology, and other social sciences. The updated pedagogy emphasizes techniques such as spaced repetition, interleaving (the mixing of multiple topics), peer instruction, better homework design, and other evidence-based practices to strengthen learning and retention.
  5. The course content will also employ the latest social psychology research on growth mindset, belonging, and “classroom ecology” to reduce student feelings of alienation and instead positively cultivate their experience and willingness to persist in the economics classroom.
  6. enCOREage is recruiting a diverse set of educators (professors, research assistants, nonprofit leaders), most of whom teach underrepresented students at non-elite institutions, for training and information-sharing sessions and workshops aimed at creating a community that will support the piloting and diffusion of new content, teaching methods, mutual encouragement, and constructive criticism across a network.


Workshops and events

enCOREage will convene workshops for educators aimed at developing the community that will support the piloting and diffusion of new content.

The project is led by:

  • Samuel Bowles, Research Professor, Santa Fe Institute and CORE Econ,
  • Wendy Carlin, External Professor, Santa Fe Institute, Professor of Economics University College London, and Director of CORE Econ,
  • Roby Harrington, CORE and Honor Ed, formerly Vice President and Director of the College Department, at  W.W.Norton,
  • Margaret Levi, former CASBS director and current CASBS faculty fellow,
  • Joel Podolny, Honor Ed, formerly Dean, Apple University,
  • Simon Halliday, Associate Professor of Economics Education, University of Bristol, CASBS Fellow 2022-23, manages the enCOREage project on a day-to-day basis.

Members of the enCOREage Advisory Board:

  • William A. “Sandy” Darity Jr., the Samuel DuBois Cook Distinguished Professor of Public Policy, African and African American Studies, and Economics and director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University,
  • Manuel Pastor, Distinguished Professor of Sociology and American Studies & Ethnicity and director of the Equity Research Institute at the University of Southern California,
  • Mary Murphy, psychological and brain sciences professor at Indiana University,
  • Timothy Knowles, president of the Carnegie Endowment for the Advancement of Teaching,
  • Chauncy Lennon, vice president for learning and work at the Lumina Foundation.

The development and pilot phases are scheduled to run roughly to July 2023 followed by a deployment phase running into summer 2024.

The enCOREage project enjoys support at least through August 2024 thanks to generous grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.