Life after Samuelson's Economics:
Start it here

The Economic Conversation by Arjo Klamer, Deirdre McCloskey, and Stephen Ziliak is a groundbreaking approach to teaching economics that will be published as a principles textbook in 2009.

Economics textbooks, though built upon Samuelson's famous Foundations, are not the bedrock of economic wisdom they pretend to be. Economics is a plurality of conversations. Today's textbooks are not. Something is wrong. The project of economics does not begin and end with a distillation of Paul Samuelson. The Economic Conversation, an exciting new textbook by Klamer, McCloskey, and Ziliak shows why — and why the thinking person should care.

Left: Three generations of economics (from top): Deirdre McCloskey, Arjo Klamer, Stephen Ziliak

An invitation from the authors:
become a Guest Lecturer.
You can help. This web site exists as a means to nurture and grow an already worldwide community of teachers and students observant of the facts that there is more than one way to think about the economy, and that a fair and public hearing of those alternative ways is crucial to the health of the economic conversation.

The authors of The Economic Conversation themselves reflect the pluralistic spirit of the community. McCloskey is a Chicago School free-marketeer, though recently also a progressive Christian and a postmodern literary type, too. Klamer is an evolving European social democrat. Ziliak is actively committed to racial and social justice, leaning towards the market for some solutions and towards the state for others. Each of the authors is an internationally recognized expert in "the rhetoric of economics," too.

The Economic Conversation wants to practice what it preaches, and that's where you come in.

The Economic Conversation, a full-year introduction to micro and macro, presents the tools and principles as does any good textbook (and somewhat better, we hope). But a fourth to a third of every chapter is in dialogue form, just like a real economic conversation. The idea is to simulate a real classroom, a real seminar room, a real conversation.

Participants in the dialogues are the authors themselves, joined by four students and the occasional "guest lecturer." We want the dialogues to be treated with equal care, though differently. "Differently" because the learning that takes place in actual dialogue is different from monological learning. (We describe how in the Introduction and Chapter 1.)

So we need to hear from you. Visit one or more of the links on our site. Do it now, while we can still improve the book!

How are the conversations working? What is going right and what is not? What should we add or delete? Please tell us. Frustrated neoclassicals, feminists and libertarians, empirical Marxists and post-modern Keynesians, and everyone in between: we need to hear from you. Please.

We think our book provides a solution to the problem of teaching economics at liberal arts colleges and anywhere that critical thinking is said to be valued.

And we think the economic conversation is too important to be left where it is: in a state of neglect, we agree.