The module that particularly motivated me at Masters level was a colloquium of reading closely Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money (1936). This was before I knew what 'close reading' was about. Why was it motivating? We were engaging with a great mind, a real thinker. It wasn’t routine formulaic textbook type of reading and discussion.
I’ve always understood teaching and research to be related and never accepted the division that many make between the two. The classroom for me is a laboratory for testing ideas, ideas of others that have stood the test of time and of my own.
I conducted my teaching and classes in a way that they were an exploration of ideas and their applications. I always looked at textbooks as dictionaries and encyclopedias or as catalogs of what is known and what’s accepted.
I was more interested in the works that were discovering something new and the thinkers that are working out new ideas, such as John Maynard Keynes, Hannah Arendt, Edith Penrose and others.
In my view, what should be taught at undergraduate level Economics should be the stock and trade of all economists. Therefore, I never limited myself at that level to narrow topics and taught across a range of disciplines from Macroeconomic Theory of Business Economy, Economic Development of Ireland, Applied Topics, Economic Principles to History of Thought.
At postgraduate level I taught in the Masters, PhD, Executive MBA and DBA Programmes. My focus was on the development of ideas as an effective way of bringing students towards frontiers of various specializations within Economics. I taught modules such as:
The four module sequence in the Executive MBA was my single best teaching experience. Due to a series of extraordinary classes of students, this allowed for real and deep exploration on how we think and how to use economic ideas in business. I had the freedom to go into the unknown and work things out with an intelligent and interested group with substantial experience of business.
After 15 years, I had done all I could for the course and needed to move on and allow other people to step in and help develop the programme further. Out of those experiences and from what I have learned over time, I will continue to apply these methods through The Keynes Centre.
The Market Economy: Economy foundations for strategic Thinking
Economic strategy and Performance
Economics of organisations and knowledge
Strategic interaction and Globalization
Exposing students to the best literature in the discipline;
Focusing on writers who deal with the most important questions;
Looking for the question an author is seeking to answer before judging the approach or answer and, thereby, the author;
Working out the author’s ‘vision’ of the economic system and the ‘technique’ for conceptualizing it;
Doing nothing at any stage which will have to be unlearned at a later stage of their economic education;
Arranging that each contributes to a later stage so as to build up the confidence of students in their ability to read and think about economic literature for themselves.
I followed some methods and principles of teaching which are mainly as follows:
While teaching at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, my primary objectives were
Develop an appreciation of theory as an ‘apparatus of thought’;
Encourage students to read the fundamental works of the discipline so as to develop an appreciation of the subjects intellectual history;
Convey that a range of skills and practical experience contribute to being an economist;
Demonstrate the relevance of the discipline to a broad range of important contemporary issues;
Help students develop an understanding of the economic system, an appreciation of the particular nature of economic reasoning and experience of doing economic analysis.