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Thread: UMass Amherst--Job prospects after attending heterodox program

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    Re: UMass Amherst--Job prospects after attending heterodox program

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    One of my professor in Japan is from UMass Amherst. He is a student of James Crotty. As far as I know, he is doing well there. And I also saw some academic placements from UMass Amherst, which means that you might end up somewhere in academia. The problem is that when you are picking a very low ranking program like UMass Amherst, you just make the number of the job offers you might have in the future smaller.

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    Re: UMass Amherst--Job prospects after attending heterodox program

    If you're willing to accept the fact that it will be difficult to land a tenure-track position and are fine with the idea of working for think-tanks or public institutions, I'd recommend UMass Amherst. Those who loudly attack heterodox schools miss the point of these programs - they have a kind of comparative advantage these days in churning out people who can do great applied policy work, particularly for left-wing think-tanks. The New School and Amherst grads loom large in "progressive" policy circles. You can argue that this is because their graduates have fewer options and,I think this has something to do with it, but I think this is a bit reductive - heterodox programs churn out graduates who understand politics and, thus, graduates who understand their audience. Econ phd programs are pretty weak as far as this stuff goes.

    That said, UMass Amherst seems to place relatively well at selective LACs so there's hope for Amherst people.

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    Re: UMass Amherst--Job prospects after attending heterodox program

    Quote Originally Posted by greg3 View Post
    It's a parallel case to studying homeopathy instead of medicine, so you should really think twice.
    This is far from the dumbest thing I've ever read on here but I also disagree with it, except in a different way...

    Neither regular nor heterodox programs are like studying medicine and the education at both types of schools is likely very similar in most ways. However, left heterodox programs are focused on issues that do not proceed from the purposeful behavior of individuals. Instead, they tend to focus on the path of history and changes in institutional structure and how those act upon economic agents who may be less than perfectly rational.

    There is room for both at the table but, to me, heterodox economics requires some ethically-problematic assumptions by a researcher. In particular, the economic agents under a heterodox view do not have complete agency and might be best viewed as objects rather than subjects of their economic problems. This view easily leads to models and research which predict benefits from market intervention and micro or macro management of people's lives - which may be cool or not cool depending on your political views and tendency towards consequentialism. That is, you may dislike the lack of agency in heterodox models but favor a model's outcomes and policy prescriptions enough to ignore the philosophical issues with your approach.

    At the same time, heterodox approaches often lead to truly interesting discoveries and insights about the world around us. The issue is that many people cannot stomach the idea that individuals are not the rational decision-making machines orthodox economics assumes them to be, even if it leads to a better understanding of the world we live in.

    This is a meta philosophical problem if there ever were one and a great example of moral and ethical trade-offs.

    Lastly, right heterodox programs also focus on the path of history, changes in institutional structure, and how those act upon economic agents. However, they tend to assume that the path of history and institutions are an emergent phenomenon that comes from the purposeful behavior of individuals who face a variety of constraints. They put little emphasis on math and statistics because they are interested in understanding and explaining the origins, purpose, and goals of the various emergent institutions that we operate under (such as family, firms, law/justice, community, tribes, legislation/government, social norms, and so on). Those are often tackled on a case by case basis so that n=1, which is not ideal for econometric estimation!

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