American Journal of Educational Research
ISSN (Print): 2327-6126 ISSN (Online): 2327-6150 Website: Editor-in-chief: Ratko Pavlović
Open Access
Journal Browser
American Journal of Educational Research. 2015, 3(1), 5-9
DOI: 10.12691/education-3-1-2
Open AccessArticle

Sustainability in the Curriculum and Teaching of Economics: Transforming Introductory Macroeconomics

Madhavi Venkatesan1,

1Department of Economics, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, MA USA

Pub. Date: January 04, 2015

Cite this paper:
Madhavi Venkatesan. Sustainability in the Curriculum and Teaching of Economics: Transforming Introductory Macroeconomics. American Journal of Educational Research. 2015; 3(1):5-9. doi: 10.12691/education-3-1-2


Present models of economic growth primarily focus on the role of expenditures as captured in the commonly cited economic indicator, gross domestic product (GDP), where GDP is defined as the sum of final goods and services sold within a country’s natural borders. Noting that a country’s expenditures are referred to as “aggregate expenditures” and that the majority of spending is specific to consumption or consumer spending, especially in the United States where this spending category is nearly two-thirds of annual GDP (other expenditure categories for GDP include investment spending, government spending and foreign spending as proxied by net exports), there exists a significant relationship between consumer expenditures and macroeconomic growth, justifying the standard acceptance of consumption-based expenditures as being a significant driver of economic expansion. Given the consumption and growth relationship, consumption values and behaviors have a significant impact on economic outcomes as well as other parameters including the environment and social and economic equity, where the latter are defined as relating to disparities between groups within a country, as well as across countries. Following a discussion of the impact of consumer-led growth on sustainability parameters: the environment, economic and social equity, this paper provides an explicit linkage between the measure of economic progress in universal use, GDP, and the degradation to common global resources, connecting the endogeneity present between the modeling of economic growth and the values and behaviors that support the outcome of the very same growth. A discussion of the present teaching methods specific to introductory macroeconomics provides the foundation for an innovative, replicable, and grant-funded case study for introducing sustainability. The curriculum variants discussed are not in widespread use and at present, there are no standard textbooks for the instruction of Principles of Macroeconomics that explicitly include sustainability and provide sustainability-based economic parameters for alternative evaluation to standard economic growth as presently and singularly enumerated in GDP. The value-augmenting outcome of the sustainability inclusive curriculum case study is captured in a qualitative assessment of student reaction and absorption of sustainability as a value and behavior catalyst and provided in summary form.

curriculum macroeconomics economics

Creative CommonsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit


[1]  Bishop, R. C. (1993). “Economic Efficiency, Sustainability, and Biodiversity”. Ambio, Vol. 22, No. 2/3, 69-73.
[2]  Boran, I. (2006). “Benefits, Intentions, and the Principle of Fairness”. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 36, No. 1, 95-115.
[3]  Dillard, D. (1982). “Rewriting the Principles of Economics”. Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 16, No. 2, 577-585.
[4]  Choi, S. and Ng, A. (2011). “Environmental and Economic Dimensions of Sustainability”. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 104, No. 2, 269-282.
[5]  Colander, D. (2005). “What Economists Teach and What Economists Do”. The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 36, No. 3, 249-260.
[6]  Czech, B. (2000). “Economic Growth as the Limiting Factor for Wildlife Conservation”. Wildlife Society Bulletin, Vol. 28, No. 1, 4-15.
[7]  Fagg, J. (1981). “The Fundamental Principles of Economics”. Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 15, No. 4, 937-942.
[8]  Junyent, M. and Geli de Ciurana, A. M. (2008). “Education for Sustainability in University Studies: A Model for Reorienting the Curriculum”. British Educational Research Journal, 34:6, 763-782.
[9]  Knoedler, J. T. and Underwood, D. A. (2003). “Teaching the Principles of Economics: A Proposal for a Multi-Paradigmatic Approach”. Journal of Economic Issues, Vol. 37, No. 3, 697-725.
[10]  O’Hara, S. U. (1995). “Sustainability: Social and Ecological Dimensions”. Review of Social Economy, Vol. 53, No. 4, 529-551.
[11]  Lovejoy, S. (2014). “Scaling Fluctuation Analysis and Statistical Hypothesis Testing of Anthropogenic Warming”. Climate Dynamics.
[12]  Mayer, A.L., Thurston, H. W., and Pawlowski, C. W. (2004). “The Multidisciplinary Influence of Common Sustainability Indices”. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, Vol. 2, No. 8, 419-426.
[13]  McKenzie, M., Williams, K. R., Weed, A. and Carroll, T. X. (2003). “Values, Transcendence, and Teaching: A Symposium”. The Journal of General Education, Vol. 52, No. 1, 1-26.
[14]  Neal, P. (1988). “Hobbes and Rational Choice Theory”. The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 41, No. 4, 635-652.
[15]  Nelson, R.H. (1995). “Sustainability, Efficiency, and God: Economic Values and the Sustainability Debate”. Annual Review of Ecology and Systematics, Vol. 26, 135-154.
[16]  Passerini, E. (1998). “Sustainability and Sociology”. The American Sociologist, Vol. 29, No. 3, 59-70.
[17]  Peterson-Boring, W. (2010). “Sustainability and the Western Civilization Curriculum: Reflections on Cross-pollinating the Humanities and Environmental History”. Environmental History, Vol. 15, No. 2, 288-304.
[18]  Shah, M. (1999). “Synthesis of Ecology and Economics: Towards a New Theoretical Paradigm”. Economic and Political Weekly, Vol. 34, No. 46/47, 3293-3298.
[19]  Som, C., Hilty, L.M., and Köhler, A.R. (2009). “The Precautionary Principle as a Framework for a Sustainable Information Society”. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 85, 493-505.
[20]  Wetzel, J.N., Potter, W. J., and O'Toole, D. M. (1982). “The Influence of Learning and Teaching Styles on Student Attitudes and Achievement in the Introductory Economics Course: A Case”. The Journal of Economic Education, Vol. 13, No. 1, 33-39.
[21]  Xiao, Y., Faff, R., Gharghori, P., and Lee, D. (2013). “An Empirical Study of the World Price of Sustainability”. Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 114, No. 2, 297-310.
[22]  Zsolnai, L. (2007). “Western Economics versus Buddhist Economics”. Society and Economy, Vol. 29, No. 2, 145-153.