Friday, September 18, 2009

Notre Dame To Dissolve Heterodox Economics Department

The link to the story in the Chronicle of Higher Education is The bad guy in this is the dean, who wanted to have a "highly ranked" graduate program in economics (there was already a conventional econ department in the business school, but that was under another dean). So, he took away the grad program from the famous and productive, but heterodox and book-publishing (many of them very influential and important, check out Phil Mirowski's work) department. They set up what orthodox economist Robert Solow warned would be a "third rate MIT department," which he said we did not need another of. Now the axe is falling, and the heterodox department is to be completely eliminated. Supposedly the remnant tenured faculty will be scattered among other departments where they will be allowed to teach their upper level courses, but no principles or intermediate theory ones.

The department contains a number of important economists. Mirowski is the author of Machine Dreams and More Heat than Light. David Ruccio is the editor of Rethinking Marxism. Amitava Dutt is a development economist who is the author of numerous books, and there are others. This is a sad day, especially in light of the discredit that economic orthodoxy is standing in now.


Martin Langeland said...

A jesuit Priest I once taught with described the church as 'a bunch of non-peakers attempting to maintain a peak experience."
So it seems that Notre Dame is firmly following tradition here.

Max Jr said...

Sad indeed.
But why does a Jesuit institution so need to conform to orthodoxy? It isn't a vocational training center. One would have thought their norms would have encouraged them to have a distinct identity.

Jack said...

Check to see what entities have recently or regularly been significant sources of contributions to the school. Who sits on the Bd of Governors? Are there any endowed chairs, or will there soon be, in the Economics Dept? Look for the money. The answer always lies in the gold. And that is true whether the recipient school, or organization, is private, public or not for profit? Remember the answer to why
; "Because that's where the money is."

Anonymous said...

Notre Dame is not a Jesuit institution; it's associated with the Holy Cross orders (whose nuns taught me fifty some years ago).

The sad thing, and the reason I have left the Montini-Wojtyla church, is that fifty years there was a massive movement toward asserting that Catholics can be first rate in whatever they do. Now that's pretty much dead, except perhaps in football, sacrificed on the altar of identity Catholicism and the third rate "thought" of John Paul II.

Gene O'Grady said...


Normally I would say do as you say. But from all I hear (and I am connected into primary sources on both sides of this), this really is all about the ego of Dean McGreevy. He wanted to have a "highly ranked" grad program in economics under his jurisdiction, and those lists are based on pubs in certain highly ranked journals, not on whether your books will be cited 20 years from now. I predict that 20 years from now, the two books I listed by Miroski alone will be cited more than everything every published by anybody in this new department, even though some of them are publishing in the AER, which gives those good rankings in the official lists (although I do not think the new department has yet to get anywhere on those lists; it is a pathetic joke, despite their efforts to hire some moderately big names for very big money).


The matter of the social Christian tradition of Catholicism has been very much a matter of debate at Notre Dame and commentary by outside observers (see David Colander's remarks in the linked article in the Chronicle). It is true that the very anti-communist last two popes have tilted a bit more to favoring the market than previous ones. But that old tradition is still official doctrine and was reasserted by both of them, much to the annoyance of many pro-free market US Catholics.

Barkley Rosser said...

There is now a petition drive at Openeconomics ND to save the department there. I urge people to sign it.