Nov 29, 2011

Teaching Institutional Economics with "The Fellowship of the Ring"

Abstract: This article shares my experience in the class of institutional economics [I-E] at the undergraduate level where I used The Fellowship of the Ring, the first book of Tolkien’s fantastic saga, as a platform to teach about economic and social institutions. I consider this experience successful either for me as professor as for my students. I hope other professors consider using fiction in general, and sagas in particular, to better engage students in learning economics and other social science subjects. The experience is valuable because it allows participants in the class to become aware of how ubiquitous institutions are, even in fantastic worlds and non-human societies! Teaching I-E this way offers three main advantages: (1) It allows student and professors to see the social complexities of the origin, evolution, and enforcement of institutions in fictional worlds. (2) It generates surprising insights to analyze, understand, and question the realities students and professors face in the communities and societies they live in. (3) And, finally, it is a lot of fun!

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