The Economics of Change: a Compilation of Online Courses That Teach Modern Economics

6 Great Online Courses on how economy works, how a sustainable society organized and how to change It for better

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Modern economics is not a dry abstraction burdened with boring mathematics. It is a science that shows how a society works and how we can change it for better. It studies human behavior; heavily uses real-world data and analyses a wide range of social, economic and political process. Although affordable domestic education is often corrupt and detached from life, we are fortunate to live in a time where the knowledge of the best professors and universities in the world can be obtained for free from the comfort of your home and from the screen of your smartphone. Some of these knowledges may well help change things around for better.

Abhijit Banerjee, Benjamin Olken, Political Economy and Economic Development

Probably is the most ambitious online course in economics from the point of view of the institution and the authors. MIT courses on political economy are greatly valued. They developed by such prominent minds as Daron Acemoglu, Benjamin Olken and this year’s nobel prize winner Abhijit Banerjee. Some of the courses had been recorded and became available on the university’s website. But none of them was framed in the form of a full-fledged online course on a specialized platform. Until today. 

The course that I recommend teaches, perhaps, the most practical area of modern economics, which answers what prevents countries from being developed and how to overcome those obstacles. Many of the barrier to economic growth and development have non-economic nature: social institutions; corruption; unequal distribution of resources, political power and economic opportunities in society; social distrust and political illegitimacy that discourage economic cooperation, institutional building and political stability; and many more. 

This course teaches how this all problems work against economic wellbeing and what the modern social science can offer to resolve them. The advantages of the course are that it is feasible even for beginners and relies heavily on examples of developing countries, which is more practical for our realities. 

(ENG) edx.org/course/political-economy-and-economic-development

Paul Collier «From Poverty to Prosperity: Understanding Economic Development»

The first online course of the top-ranked University of Oxford on development economics. If you are wondering why some countries become stories of prosperity, while others get stuck in poverty or plunge into chaos, this course is the most comprehensive and interesting answer I have ever met. The author of the course is a person who knows a great deal about economic growth, development and the solution of poverty in terms of economic science. In addition, he does this in practice. Paul Collier is the director of the International Growth Centre, which scientifically looks for solutions to societal problems and advises governments seeking to escape the poverty trap.

In addition to intellectual value, the course is a great demonstration of the art of storytelling. The author’s ability to translate complex theory into fascinating stories makes the course accessible to most and interesting to teachers.

(ENG) edx.org/course/from-poverty-to-prosperity-understanding-economic-development

Core Econ Project. Economics for a changing world 

Core Project is much more than a course. It is an open access educational platform for those who want to study economics in its most up-to-date and practical way. In addition, absolutely free of charge. The Economist called the project «a long-awaited overhaul» of economic education. Core Project will be interesting for beginners as well as for those who want to update their knowledge. Both, to those who wish to study and to those who teach. Core has a separate program for policymakers who are only interested in the practical aspects of economics used in practice.

Its educational uniqueness is an approach to studying the economy from the standpoint of solving world problems. In addition to the classic economic program, Core looks at innovation economics, behavioral economics, inequality and climate change issues, and more.

Core’s advantage in its interactivity. This is not an online course format, but rather an online tutorial that includes cool infographics, interviews with star economists, interesting tasks and practical cases for working with real-world data. Want to learn how to analyze climate change, assess the magnitude of global inequality, or analyze the economy of your own country, as prominent economists do? Want to learn how to handle economic data in Excel or R? Go there.

Although Core is in English only, it is very simple to understand even for beginners both in english and in economics. In my opinion, it is the best of freely available resources for those who want to study economics but have not got to MIT or Oxford.

(ENG) core-econ.org/

Sergei Guriev. «The Road to Market»

The course is the chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, a prominent promoter of economic science. On the one hand, the course looks at the history of the Russian economy, on the other, the difficulties of transforming the post-Soviet countries and how to overcome them.

The course is more than relevant for Ukraine and any other country that has encountered the difficulty of building a viable market economy. It is also a professional overview of the leading economic ideas for reform united under the dome of the political economy of reform.

(RU) openuni.today/course/3/

Richard Thomas Griffiths. «Political Economy of Institutions and Development»

The Political Economy of Institutions and Development is the course of Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands. This is a great course for those interested in the institutional economics. It examines the complex relationships between economic growth, the quality of public governance and social trust. Who, if not Ukrainians, know better how problems with the economy and corrupt politics affects the trust of citizens; and how in turn distrust of citizens to each other and to the state can worsen the choice of politics and lead to the trap of low economic growth. 

The course is taught in a laid-back and funny manner, so it is a mere pleasure to listen to it.

(ENG) coursera.org/learn/political-economy

Cristina Bicchieri. «Social Norms, Social Change»

The course of the University of Pennsylvania and UNICEF on social norms that «stick together». Some norms are healthy and beneficial, others poison society and complicate people’s lives. Issues such as child marriages in Arab countries or overthrowing corruption cannot be solved until the behavior of the people and the norms that support it have changed. Charismatic Christina Biccheri reveals how social norms are organized and how to change them.

(ENG) coursera.org/learn/norms

VoxUkraine, EdEra, KSE «How to write about economy without mistakes»

It’s one thing to study economics. The other is to spread economic knowledge, ideas and write about economics without mistakes. First of all, the course is designed for journalists who create economic content. But it will be interesting to anyone who wants to understand how the Ukrainian economy works, learn how to read the reports of companies and banks, learn how to work with data.

The course consists of an overview of basic economic principles, a module of data journalism and corporate finance. Contains lessons from well-known Ukrainian experts and practical case studies on the reporting of the «Mriya» agroholding and Privatbank.

(UKR) courses.ed-era.com/courses/course-v1:VOXU-KSE-EdEra+SEJ101+2017/about

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