Economics professor Whaples responds to colleague

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Robert Whaples

The Old Gold & Black recently quoted a faculty member as saying “if the people in the economics department want to teach their majors that libertarian economics is the only way to go, then that’s their business.”

Having taught in the Economics Department for over 20 years, my sense is that there’s not a single member of the department who teaches that a particular strand of economics or economic policy is “the only way to go.”

Rather faculty members in the department generally make it their mission to explore a wide range of opinions on economic issues — regardless of their personal outlook. Libertarian economists have important things to say, but (as far as I know) there’s not a single libertarian in the department. All in all, economics faculty members are fairly balanced across the spectrum of political economy. The department is a model in this respect and ideally other departments would follow its lead — diversity of ideas and outlooks should be a high priority for ALL departments in the university. If voices from only one side are heard, meaningful debates cannot occur and intellectual life atrophies. Students and faculty deserve better than shutting down or shouting down meaningful debate.

Robert Whaples

Department of Economics