A note to instructors

A global community

Since its inception in 2013, CORE Econ has grown into a thriving global community of committed instructors at more than 400 universities throughout the world.

You can read more than 30 case studies from instructors who have shared their experience of teaching with CORE Econ’s textbooks and teaching materials, on our website.

Instructors tell us that feeling part of a community—the CORE Econ community—is an important factor in driving their decision to adopt our materials. As a registered instructor, you can access the online Teaching Community to connect with other CORE Econ instructors throughout the world. This online forum lets you:

  • share your teaching and learning materials with other colleagues, and derive inspiration from theirs
  • exchange feedback about your experience with CORE Econ and examples of successful teaching practice
  • ask questions of the wider community about the content of our textbooks.

Understanding how CORE Econ’s The Economy is different

The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics and The Economy 2.0: Macroeconomics focus throughout on evidence on the economy, from around the world, and from history. Both texts are motivated by questions—how can we explain what we see? The method is to ask interesting questions first and then to introduce models that help to answer them. Standard tools such as constrained choice are taught by showing how they give insight into real-world problems. Economics as a discipline is set in a social, political, and historical context in which institutions matter.

CORE Econ teaches students to be economists:

  • Start with a question, and look at the evidence.
  • Build a model that helps you understand what you see.
  • Critically evaluate the model: does it provide insight into the question, and explain the evidence?

An updated paradigm

As Figure A demonstrates, CORE Econ’s benchmark representation of the economy includes numerous important elements that are not usually covered in principles texts. Those elements are well accepted in the discipline and enhance the realism of the text, but have been slow to make their way into principles textbooks.

Topics Benchmark as taught in introductory economics CORE Econ’s new benchmark
People are far-sighted and self-interested are also cognitively limited (for example, they have present bias) and have motives other than self-interest, such as social norms of fairness and reciprocity and valuing sustainability
Interactions are among price-takers in competitive markets include price-, interest rate-, and wage-setters, strategic interactions, and non-market interactions
Technology constant returns or diseconomies of scale also increasing returns, downward sloping long-run average cost curves, positive feedbacks
Information is complete is usually incomplete, asymmetric, and non-verifiable
Contracts are complete and enforceable at zero cost are incomplete for effort and diligence in labour and credit markets, and for other external effects such as traffic congestion or knowledge
Institutions include markets, private property, and governments also include informal rules (norms), firms, unions, and banks
History is largely ignored provides data about alternative rules of the game and the process of change
Differences among people are confined to preference and budget constraint differences among buyers and sellers also include asymmetric positions, for example as employers or employees, and as lenders or borrowers, or owners of firms and the buyers they sell to
Power is market power and political power also includes structural power and bargaining power including a principal’s power over someone in labour, credit, and other markets
Economic rents create inefficiencies through ‘rent-seeking’ are also endemic in a well-functioning private economy, creating the incentive to innovate, or to work hard
Stability and instability The economy is self-stabilizing Stability and instability are both characteristics of the economy
Evaluation is confined to the presence of unexploited mutual gains (Pareto-inefficiency) also includes fairness
Twentieth century origins Marshall, Walras, Keynes also Schumpeter, Nash, Ostrom, Hayek

Figure A Contrasting the conventional paradigm with CORE Econ’s The Economy. This figure and the ideas surrounding it are more fully explained in Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin. 2020. ‘What students learn in economics 101: Time for a change’. Journal of Economic Literature 58 (1): pp. 176–214. This figure is based upon the original table in this journal.

To learn more about how The Economy’s content compares with leading principles textbooks, read:

Samuel Bowles and Wendy Carlin. 2020. ‘What Students Learn in Economics 101: Time for a Change.’ Journal of Economic Literature 58 (1): pp. 176–214.

Structured for flexibility: The many ways to teach and learn from The Economy 2.0

Several features make our text particularly flexible and adaptable.

Modularity and building blocks

The microeconomics text has been written so that it is not necessary to teach the units in order, though the order in the text is a useful guide to what works best, based on experiences from universities who have used The Economy 1.0. There are only two strict prerequisites: Unit 1 is required for Unit 2, and Unit 7 is required for Unit 8. This approach provides instructors with flexibility to design their courses in a way that works best for their specific target audience.

Flexibility is enhanced through the use of ‘building blocks’. These are self-contained sections or groups of sections that introduce and explain fundamental concepts and techniques that are also useful in other units. Examples are building blocks in The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics that introduce:

  • Constrained choice problems (Sections 3.2 to 3.5 or including 3.6 for an extended version): this building block provides a self-contained explanation of indifference curves, feasible sets, and constrained choice. It is used as a prerequisite in parts of Units 4, 5, 6, 7, and 9.
  • Game theory and Nash equilibrium (Sections 4.2 and 4.3 or including 4.4 for an extended version): this building block is used in parts of Units 6, 7, and 8.

Prerequisites are clearly stated at the beginning of each unit, including hyperlinks to building blocks that open the required material in a pop-up. This makes it easy for students to read the prerequisite material, either to provide the necessary background knowledge if they have not studied it before, or to refresh their memory. In some cases, where a particular concept (Pareto efficiency, for example) is a prerequisite for just one section within a unit, this is stated within the section, again with a hyperlink providing easy access to the relevant building block in a pop-up.

A full list of building blocks is available in the Teaching Guide on the CORE Econ website and in the table of contents.

Instructors could also select certain units to supplement material from other sources. For example, Unit 4 on social interactions and game theory, Unit 5 on institutions, Unit 6 on the employment relationship, or Unit 9 on lending and borrowing, provide material that could be included in a principles-level class or used as supplementary material for higher-level courses.


Extensions occur throughout the text and include additional material on specific topics discussed in the unit, but are not required to understand the rest of the unit. Many of the extensions contain calculus (these have replaced the ‘Leibniz’ features from The Economy 1.0) or other technical details. Where this is the case, the mathematical prerequisites are clearly marked at the start of the extension.

Other special features

  • Applications are sections that contain extended empirical examples of the models and concepts discussed in the unit.
  • ‘Great economists’ boxes are descriptions of the life and ideas of some prominent historical economists who are associated with the concepts discussed in the section.
  • ‘Economists in action’ are short videos in which contemporary economists describe their research on topics discussed in the section.
  • ‘How economists learn from facts’ are short case studies that illustrate the methods that economists use to answer research questions.
  • ‘When economists disagree’ are summaries of the history and various perspectives of ongoing methodological and policy debates.

Options for course structure

The Economy has been classroom-tested in a variety of settings, ranging from secondary schools to postgraduate courses. The instructor case studies on our website encompass a wide variety of courses and show how instructors have adapted The Economy to their specific needs.

  • A first course (one year): The Economy can be taught as a year-long first course in economics, drawing on units from The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics as well as The Economy 2.0: Macroeconomics. Within each unit, instructors can select the material they want to focus on (for example, it is not necessary to teach all of the ‘Application’ sections).
  • An introduction to microeconomics (one semester; 10–12 weeks): Instructors can teach all 10 units from The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics, covering around one unit per week (though not necessarily all sections). If time is limited or instructors wish to move more slowly, it is also possible to skip over certain units that are somewhat more specialized (such as Unit 6 on wage-setting or Unit 9 on lending and borrowing, for example).
  • An introduction to macroeconomics (one semester; 10–12 weeks): Instructors can teach all 10 units from The Economy 2.0: Macroeconomics, covering around one unit per week (though not necessarily all sections). If time is limited or instructors wish to move more slowly, it is also possible to select a smaller number of units that cover the core topics. It will be possible to teach a macroeconomics course without a preceding course based on The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics, and more detail is provided on how to do this in the macroeconomics volume.
  • Introduction to economics (one semester; 10–12 weeks): Providing the basic concepts of the discipline in a single semester is a challenge, but it can be done using Units 1 and 2, the two building blocks from Units 3 and 4, and then Units 7, 8, and 10 of the microeconomics text, plus selected units from the macroeconomics text.
  • Master’s courses in public policy: The Economy 1.0 has been used effectively in various master’s programs. Instructors could select certain units from The Economy 2.0 to provide a foundation for key topics which they build upon further, possibly in connection with ESPP (CORE Econ’s Economy, Society, and Public Policy text). For example, the study of the employment relationship in Unit 6 (The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics) provides detailed theory and some important policy applications, while ESPP Unit 6 contains additional applications to the gig economy.
  • Secondary-school courses: Since the material is very relevant to students’ lives, this makes it more accessible. Instructors could select parts of the text that their students might be interested in, such as Unit 4, which teaches game theory and applies it to climate change. Instructors can refer to this case study where The Economy 1.0 is taught in a secondary-school setting.

Options for pedagogy

The Economy incorporates recent developments in pedagogic methods to facilitate a range of teaching approaches.

Traditional teaching

The material can be taught in a traditional way, with much of the substantive theory in each unit delivered through lectures, and reinforced and elaborated in classes with problems and exercises. Instructors have used CORE material this way in various teaching contexts, ranging from fully in-person to fully online learning, and incorporating interactive elements into lectures and classes.

Flipping the classroom

Active classroom learning can be encouraged by the selective use of ‘flipped’ or ‘inverted’ approaches, in which traditional lectures are replaced by interactive sessions based on problems, games, or discussions. In these teaching approaches, students are assigned material (readings, quizzes, or videos, for example) before class, which is then used as a basis for discussion and activity in the classes. Classroom polling software (or student response systems) can be used to test students’ engagement with the assigned tasks through quizzes, and games and data work can then be used to deepen understanding and reinforce this understanding. The Economy lends itself well to this approach, because units progress from real case studies and narratives to the selection and use of appropriate theoretical tools for understanding these case studies, and then to the detailed underlying theory.

One approach to flipping the classroom is to encourage students to read the narratives and historical case studies before or after class, and to think about the economic tools that can help explain these cases. The detailed use and understanding of the theory can then be developed within the class by the use of problem-oriented data work and classroom games. Experience in many classrooms with The Economy 1.0 suggests that students engage more readily in pre-class reading of the interactive ebook than in previous introductory courses. The habit of reading ahead of class can be kick-started with a multimedia group project used in several universities that use CORE Econ materials. The teaching online guides (available in the Instructors’ part of our website) contain further guidance on using The Economy in flipped and/or online learning settings.

Classroom games and data exercises

The empirical emphasis and the extensive embedding of game theory encourage a more active approach to student learning through the use of classroom games and experiments, and problem-oriented learning using real data. The units contain links to CORE Econ’s companion ebooks for games and experiments, Experiencing Economics. Datasets, ideas for classroom games, and other in-class exercises are provided in the unit teaching guides for instructors (on the Instructors’ part of our website), to help teachers incorporate these methods in their teaching. The Instructors’ part of our website also contains datasets used to construct all the charts in the textbook.

Available resources and formats

We recommend that instructors and students use The Economy 2.0 in its online format, to take full advantage of its pedagogical features, including end-of-section questions with immediate feedback, embedded videos, interactive data charts, and much more.

Instructors can register on the CORE Econ website for free access to teaching and learning resources to complement The Economy 2.0. We recommend that instructors explore:

  • the Test Bank, a collection of new and improved multiple-choice quiz questions with immediate feedback; these questions can be downloaded as a spreadsheet, or in Moodle- and Canvas-compatible formats ready to be uploaded
  • lecture slides, which can be amended to tailor your course’s content (available in LaTeX and PowerPoint)
  • teaching guides with technical notes and teaching advice for the important and challenging concepts in each unit, as well as suggestions for polls, games, additional reading, discussions, and other activities, linked to concepts from each unit; the teaching guides are contained in an Excel spreadsheet which can be used for planning purposes.

Moving from The Economy 1.0 to The Economy 2.0

For instructors moving from The Economy 1.0 to The Economy 2.0, we recommend starting with the ‘base’ materials from The Economy 2.0 (such as the new lecture slides) and then incorporating the additional materials you have developed as you have been teaching The Economy 1.0.

Since The Economy 2.0 has been substantially rewritten and reorganized, we believe that this approach will be easier than rearranging your existing materials to match the new structure of each unit. However, it is likely that most of the materials you have developed (such as exam questions and country-specific applications) will still be relevant. (We would also be grateful if you would consider sharing some of that material on the community forum.)

The examples, applications, and data in The Economy 2.0 have also been updated to reflect developments that have occurred since the first edition of the text was written eight years ago.

The table below compares the unit structure for The Economy 1.0 and The Economy 2.0 to help you transition.

The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics The Economy 1.0 Notes
1 and 2 1 and 2, 20 Reorganized and rewritten. Now includes colonialism and a greater emphasis on climate change. The production function is introduced in Unit 1.
3 3 Rewritten. Continued focus on constrained choice problems, focusing on hours of work. No longer includes production.
4 4 Reorganized. Maintains many of the same games. Introduces Pareto efficiency. Greater focus on climate change.
5 5, 20 Rewritten with substantive changes. Applies the model to a contemporary environmental bargaining problem.
6 6 Rewritten and reorganized. New search and matching model of the labour market; wages are set to recruit and motivate workers.
7 7 Rewritten and reorganized. Firms have constant marginal cost (instead of increasing marginal cost); game theory concepts are used to analyse strategic price-setting behaviour in markets with few firms.
8 8, 11 Rewritten and reorganized. Includes entry and long-run equilibrium (which was previously in Unit 11).
9 10, 20 Rewritten. Focuses on the intertemporal choice model (balance sheets and banking are covered in The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics).
10 12 Rewritten and reorganized. Three main sections (external effects, public goods, information problems). Discussion of public goods highlights non-rivalry as the primary characteristic.

How to cite The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics

To cite the ebook, use The CORE Econ Team 2023 The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics Open access e-text https://core-econ.org/the-economy/.

To cite a unit, use The CORE Econ Team 2023 The Economy 2.0: Microeconomics Open access e-text https://core-econ.org/the-economy/ Unit [unit number] (url).