Volume 3 Issue 2 (2007): On Beyond Interdisciplinarity
Crossing the Boundaries

Learning Not to Think Like an Economist

David R. Ross
Published October 31, 2007
  • economics,
  • pedagogy,
  • local politics,
  • listening,
  • learning


This essay describes my progress bringing the core ideas of economics into conversations with noneconomists about important public policy issues within my faith community, through local politics, and through interdisciplinary conversations in academia. Thinking like an economist is essential to conducting research and performing careful analysis of public policy issues. However, it can reduce the economists’ effectiveness in teaching and interacting with neighbors and political leaders. Effective pedagogy requires that faculty be present as good economists to their neighbors, their fellow citizens, in daily conversations and public policy debates. Our continuing education as teachers of economics requires that we enter those conversations as committed students as well--committed to learning how our neighbors process economic facts and principles and how their insights into public policy debates might alter our own understanding.