Jennifer Brandsberg-Engelmann, an international secondary school educator and curriculum developer, had long been appalled by the dismal state of economics education for young people. Students at middle and high schools learn about a "degenerative economic system," as she puts it, in which "the economy" is framed as something separate from society and nature. With little sense of contemporary realities, economics courses assume that endless economic growth is desirable and possible. It focuses on businesses and markets, ignoring the vital role that household care and the commons play.
Brandsberg-Engelmann decided to do something about these deficiencies. Inspired by Kate Raworth’s pioneering book Doughnut Economics, Brandsberg-Engelmann instigated a collaborative project to create a comprehensive Regenerative Economics syllabus. She wants young people to learn about economics as if the planet and people really mattered – and to showcase many fresh new schools of economic thought.
On my podcast Frontiers of Commoning (Episode #46), I spoke with Jennifer to learn more about this important work-in-progress.
Like Doughnut Economics, the Regenerative Economics syllabus focuses on a core framework: how to keep the economy within ecological limits while meeting minimum social needs.
This focus naturally elevates all sorts of topics that introductory economics courses marginalize or ignore: feminist critiques of care work and households; strategies for preventing the ecological "externalities" that standard economics blithely accepts; the psychic, social, and cultural ramifications of capitalist economics; and the range of alternative economic perspectives now emerging, such as degrowth, the "circular economy," "doughnut economics," commons, and related movements.