The WEA Textbook Commentaries Project
The World Economics Association has developed an online platform for commentaries and discussion of standard introductory level textbooks, plus links to related resources. A shell now exists for this platform, and material is gradually being developed and uploaded. It can be accessed via:
The idea is that commentaries should comprise short points, largely stand-alone, giving further explanation, critical comment or alternative perspectives. They should be designed so as to be easily incorporated into a lecture or tutorial and/or added via a link on a course web page. The focus should be on a specific chapter or theme, individual points should be brief, perhaps up to 500 words, stand-alone and easy to follow. Where commentaries comprise a collection of points they should be numbered and comprise no more than about 1500-2000 words in total.
The TCP, as it grows, will provide a resource for lecturers and students who have had to follow the standard texts, but want to take a more pluralistic or critical approach. Some commentaries can draw on material in alternative, non-mainstream texts, thereby increasing awareness of them and hence influencing the way economics is perceived. Links have been set up so that related chapters and themes can be found easily, and commentaries have a “comments” feature so that readers can actively contribute to the resource.
The aim has been to design the TCP platform so as to be effective for young people who are used to participating interactively online. The TCP provides an independent and universally accessible platform for enhancing existing courses, traditional and otherwise, and offering students diverse perspectives and wide-ranging literature, including aspects of political economy, economic history, history of economic thought, and comparative economic systems.
Why would you contribute to the TCP?
- It may involve little preparation time. You may already have material that you have developed and used in lectures or tutorials, or that has been through some form of peer evaluation (including alternative texts).
- Contributors’ names are included with their commentaries, so you are raising your profile for a wide audience and getting extra benefit from your work.
- It is easy to contribute. If you are thinking of providing one or more commentaries, just send an email to Stuart Birks with contributions or suggestions for contributions. Alternatively, you may wish to add a comment to an existing commentary, in which case use the comments facility at the end of the commentary and press “Post comment”.
- You may get feedback on your ideas either directly or through submitted comments.
- You can include links and/or references to commentary source documents or to other available work such as your journal articles or books.
- You are participating in a communal effort to disseminate critical and alternative material.
- This is an opportunity to include aspects of more economics approaches into mainstream courses. As already mentioned, these can include political economy, economic history, history of economic thought, and comparative economic systems.
- It is a quick and easy way to reach a wide audience.
Who might use the TCP resources?
- Lecturers – either for additional points in lectures or as a component of their courses.
- Tutors – as a teaching tool or for additional discussion points in tutorials, workshops or online discussion forums.
- Students – for additional insights, to raise issues with their lecturers or tutors, or for more searching input into their assignments.
Why might you use TCP resources?
- They are easy to use. Commentaries are short, easily understood and, stand-alone. You just have to give a link to the commentary URL on a course web page or in a course on-line discussion forum.
- They give ready access to a broad range of material.
- There is quality control of the material through its public nature and opportunities for discussion and feedback.
- They provide scope for perspectives from different countries, economic systems, sub-branches of economics, political economy, history, etc.. Courses can be enriched to suit particular environments and types of student.
- The web-based platform provides a familiar medium for students, with brief entries and links for further investigation.
- The web-based platform and comments feature lends itself to interactive participation.
- Material is available globally.
- It only takes one person to introduce it into a course.
The platform can be used to share preferred perspectives on economics and to observe the alternative perspectives that others around the world and of different cultural and political persuasions may have. All that is needed now is for people to actively use and develop the resource. You are warmly invited to do so.
From: p.2 of World Economics Association Newsletter 4(5), October 2014