Economic educators are always trying to find new ways to breathe fresh air into the economics classroom and to get away from conventional “chalk talk” methods made famous in movies such as “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” (1986). I know we all remember Ben Stein putting the class to sleep during a macroeconomics class.
A new article in the most recent edition of the Journal of Economics and Finance Education suggests a novel approach for capturing students’ attention: using the TV show “Parks and Recreation” to teach economics. The authors, L. Brooke Conaway and Christopher Clark, name this method “Swansonomics,”after Ron Swanson, a libertarian leaning character in the show. “Parks and Recreation,” a popular show on NBC, concluded after seven seasons in February.
The idea of using TV shows as teaching methods for economics has been researched and blogged about before, specifically with “Seinfeld,” “The Simpsons,” and “The Office.” These shows provide teachers with methods to make economics more palatable and engaging for students. Conaway and Clark’s Swansonomics integrates video clips and quotes from the show to introduce economic concepts such as public choice and government intervention. Swansonomics was designed by the authors to be a first-year multidisciplinary course, but it can also be applied to introductory principles of economics, comparative economic systems and institutions, and public choice courses.