The teaching of economics gets an overdue overhaul

ECONOMISTS can be a haughty bunch. But a decade of trauma has had a chastening effect. They are rethinking old ideas, asking new questions and occasionally welcoming heretics back into the fold. Change, however, has been slow to reach the university economics curriculum. Many institutions still pump students through introductory courses untainted by recent economic history or the market shortcomings it illuminates. A few plucky reformers are working to correct that: a grand and overdue idea. Overhauling the way economics is taught ought to produce students more able to understand the modern world. Even better, it should improve economics itself.

The dismal science it may be, but economics is popular on campus. It accounts for more than 10% of degrees awarded at elite universities each year, by one estimate, and many more students take an introductory class as part of their general-education requirements. Teachers of such courses aim to grab the attention of their glassy-eyed…