Presentation Details

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The Eleventh International Literacy and Education Research Network Conference on Learning

Applying a Complex Adaptive System and Weak Signals to Economics Teaching

Julie Gerstman, Carol Barry.

In the eighteenth century, economics was established as a science which assumed economic reality could be conceptualized as formulating universal laws (de Cabo, Fernandez and Jaramillo). This proposition has since underpinned the widespread use of deterministic general equilibrium models to predict the impact of shocks (changes) on markets and the economy as a whole. The inability of economics to solve societal problems and to anticipate international crises, and widespread criticism by eminent academics and practicing economists, explains why it is necessary to consider a change in approach to teaching economics (Robinson (a), Brockway). The complex adaptive system (CAS) model addresses many issues raised by critics of the traditional approach to teaching economics. The CAS views the economy as a complex, interactive and dynamic system, made up of adaptive producers and consumers whose behaviour can be analyzed as a series of interactive responses to a change in circumstances. This paper sets out to explore the meaning and appropriateness of teaching economics as a CAS in an attempt to improve anticipating realistic sources of disruption and their likely interactive results.


Julie Gerstman  (Australia)
Economics Lecturer
School of Business
Swinburne University of Technology

Julie Gerstman is a lecturer in Economics and Finance in the School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology. Her research interests include investigating the necessary attributes of a firm to sustain a competitive advantage, developing methods to enhance the learning approaches of tertiary Business students, including suggesting a change to the approach of teaching university economics.

Carol Barry
Lecturer in Economics and Finance
School of Business
Swinburne University of Technology.

Carol Barry is a lecturer in Economics and Finance in the School of Business at Swinburne University of Technology. Her academic interests include improving teaching techniques to enable students to understand and apply risk management techniques. Her research includes investigating and applying the resource based view of a firm to the finance industry, and reviewing ways of teaching and subject content to enable students to have a more realistic understanding of how markets operate.

  • Theoretical underpinnings of economics
  • Interactive market responses
  • Applying a complex adaptive system
  • Recognising weak signals

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)