On Campus

Social studies European style

A recent article in Foreign Policy details the potential pitfalls of economics education in France and Germany. Students do not have to wait until university to learn the glories of the labour union or that profit is a sin. Nope, they learn that in secondary school, demonstrating that if university is reserved for an intellectual elite, its dogma should not be … apparently.

For example, a one-year high school course on the inner workings of an economy developed by the French Education Ministry called Sciences Economiques et Sociales, spends two thirds of its time discussing the sociopolitical fallout of economic activity. Chapter and section headings include “Social Cleavages and Inequality,” “Social Mobilization and Conflict,” “Poverty and Exclusion,” and “Globalization and Regulation.” The ministry mandates that students learn “worldwide regulation as a response” to globalization. Only one third of the course is about companies and markets, and even those bits include extensive sections on unions, government economic policy, the limits of markets, and the dangers of growth. The overall message is that economic activity has countless undesirable effects from which citizens must be protected.