I teach a course in African development, cross-listed in political science, economics, and African studies. The material ranges across all three disciplines.
Recently the economics department made an unexpected demand: add a microeconomics pre-requisite, or it can’t be an economics course. The logic (if I understand correctly): economics courses build on economic tools; economic tools are taught in the introductory sequence; courses that do not need the introductory sequence are not economics courses.
Now, this year about 60 of my students were econ majors, 60 were poli sci, and 60 were everything else–art, math, history, english, and so on. A micro pre-req would bar pretty much all of the “everything else” category, as well as eliminate half the poli sci class (it is atrocious, but there is no statistics or microeconomics requirement to Yale’s poli sci major). So I declined.
Here’s my logic: I think the gateway into economics ought to be bright and glittering. I think most students are driven by issues, not tools. I think to get them to chase those tools–micro theory, econometrics, you name it–we need to help them understand why they are valuable and important. So while most economics classes ought to build on the introductory sequence, it doesn’t hurt to have a few high-popularity, accessible courses that draw the rest of the world into the discipline.
Also, it doesn’t hurt the economics undergraduates to see their econ logic face politics and history in the same course. It doesn’t happen often enough.