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The pedagogical potential of student activism : narratives of economics students Delgado, Sandra Ximena 2020

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THE PEDAGOGICAL POTENTIAL OF STUDENT ACTIVISM:  NARRATIVES OF ECONOMICS STUDENTS by Sandra Ximena Delgado   B.A., Universidad Nacional of Colombia, 2008 M.Sc., Universidad Nacional of Colombia, 2012   A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF  DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE AND POSTDOCTORAL STUDIES (Curriculum Studies)  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) December 2020 © Sandra Ximena Delgado, 2020    ii The following individuals certify that they have read, and recommend to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for acceptance, the dissertation entitled:  The Pedagogical Potential of Student Activism: Narratives of Economics Students.  Submitted by Sandra Ximena Delgado  in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy  in Curriculum and Pedagogy  Examining Committee: Dr. E. Wayne Ross, Curriculum Studies Supervisor  Dr. Sandra Mathison, Measurement, Evaluation and Research Methodology Supervisory Committee Member  Dr. Stephen Petrina, Curriculum Studies Supervisory Committee Member Anne Phelan, Curriculum Studies University Examiner Taylor Webb, Educational Studies University Examiner    iii Abstract  This research presents a narrative exploration of how economics students understand and experience their activism in the age of the neoliberal university and how their experience as students is transformed by social action. The primary focus of this study is to understand economics students experience as part of an effort to better understand student activism within the neoliberal university. This dissertation offers seven narrative themes that illustrate the experiences of economics students as they are transformed by social action and also presents a portrayal of the relations between students’ experiences of activism and as economics students. This research discusses the implications and contributions that student activism generates in the student life and in the identity of students and future professionals in economics. The narrative themes were created to familiarize readers to curricular activism in economics and to help them to interpret and analyze economics students’ perspectives and experiences participating in curricular activism. One of the main arguments of this dissertation is that activism and social action are contributing to a re-imagination and reinvention of the experience of being an economics student in the age of the neoliberal university. Activism transforms the way economics students see themselves and how they understand their role in society, the role of economics and the urge to change economics education as new economic, social, environmental and health crises affect everyday life.   iv Lay Summary  This research is an exploration of how post-secondary economics students engage in social activism, the pedagogical roles that student social activism play and the synergies between the role of students and the role of social activist. This research employs narrative analysis to explore student experiences by examining narratives that students create and share as part of their activism. This research illustrates student experiences in seven narrative themes that familiarize readers with the student movement in conomics. The narrative themes guide the reader through the experiences of activists and present a portrayal of what is like to be an economics student activist. The narrative themes illustrate how activism in economics is contributing to a re-imagination and reinvention of the experience of being economics student in the age of the neoliberal university.  v Preface This dissertation is original and independent research by the lead author, Sandra Ximena Delgado. A version of chapters 1.3 and 2.7 has been published in Delgado-Betancourth, S. X. (2014). Rethinking economics education: Challenges and opportunities. Workplace, 23, 48-56, both chapters were written by me. A version of chapter 2.2 has been published in Delgado, S. (2019). Students. In D. R. Ford (Ed.), Keywords in Radical Philosophy and Education. Brill Sense. This article was written by me. A version of chapter 2.3 and chapter 2.4 has been published in Delgado, S., & Ross, E. W. (2016). Students in revolt: The pedagogical potential of students’ collective action in the age of the corporate university. Knowledge Cultures, 4(6), 139–156. I conducted the research and wrote the introductions and the sections titled “An Overview of Student Movements”, “Repertoires of Contention and Direct Action” and “Repertoires of Contention in Contemporary Student Movements” of the article.  As the lead investigator, I designed, conducted, and reported this study with the assistance of Dr. E. Wayne Ross, Dr. Sandra Mathison and Dr. Stephen Petrina. Ethics approval for this research was provided by the University of British Columbia Behavioral Research Ethics Board: certificate # H17-01182. All of the narratives and stories were collected in collaboration with the different student organizations that are part of the Rethinking Economics Network in the UK and the Post-Crash Economics Society. I remain solely responsible for the content of this dissertation, including any errors or omissions.   vi Table of Contents Abstract .................................................................................................................................. iii Lay Summary ......................................................................................................................... iv Preface ..................................................................................................................................... v Table of Contents ................................................................................................................... vi List of Tables ........................................................................................................................ viii List of Figures ........................................................................................................................ ix List of Acronyms ..................................................................................................................... x Acknowledgements ................................................................................................................ xi Dedication .............................................................................................................................. xii Chapter 1. Introduction .................................................................................................... 1 1.1 The Neoliberal University ........................................................................................ 1 1.2 Economics Education ............................................................................................... 8 1.3 The Importance of the Struggle over Economics Curriculum ................................ 14 1.4 My Experiences in Economics Education and my Personal Journey ..................... 24 1.5 Research Questions ................................................................................................. 28 1.6 Overview ................................................................................................................ 29 Chapter 2. Literature Review ......................................................................................... 31 2.1 The Curriculum, Critical Pedagogy and Higher Education .................................... 31 2.2 Students in the Neoliberal University ..................................................................... 36 2.2.1 Students in Critical and Radical Traditions .................................................... 47 2.3 Student Movements ................................................................................................ 51 2.4 Student Movements and Activism .......................................................................... 55 2.5 Students and Academic Freedom ........................................................................... 60 2.6 Activism and Pedagogy .......................................................................................... 63 2.7 The Student Movement in Economics .................................................................... 68 2.8 Summary of Arguments .......................................................................................... 76 Chapter 3. Methodology .................................................................................................. 79 3.1 Narrative Research in the Context of Social Action ............................................... 91 3.2 Participants and Recruitment .................................................................................. 92 3.3 Data Collection ....................................................................................................... 95 3.4 Data Analysis and Interpretation ............................................................................ 97 3.5 Ethical Concerns ................................................................................................... 103 Chapter 4. The Pedagogical Potential of Student Activism ....................................... 106 4.1 Narrative Theme I: How was the 2008 economic crisis experienced by economics students in the movement? ............................................................................................... 108  vii 4.2 Narrative Theme II: What is an economist anyway? ............................................ 116 4.3 Narrative Theme III: How would students like an economist to be? ................... 123 4.4 Narrative Theme IV: How do students resist? From “I prefer to pick my battles” to “I admit that in part I just wanted to fuck with these people”? ........................................ 129 4.5 Narrative Theme V: Do students have the right to demand curriculum change? . 140 4.6 Narrative Theme VI: How and what do students teach themselves? ................... 147 4.7 Narrative Theme VII: Why do they write reports? ............................................... 158 Chapter 5. Discussion and Conclusions ....................................................................... 163 5.1 Student Activism and the Student Experience ..................................................... 167 5.2 Pedagogy, Knowledge and Activism .................................................................... 172 5.3 Social Movement Learning. ................................................................................. 179 5.4 Student Identity, Contradictions and Collective Action ....................................... 183 5.5 Tactics and Student Movements ........................................................................... 192 5.6 Ideology and Power in Higher Education. ............................................................ 195 5.7 Economics Crises and Economics Education Student Movement ....................... 201 References ............................................................................................................................ 205 Appendices .......................................................................................................................... 236 Appendix A: Questionnaire unstructured interview: ........................................................ 236 Appendix B: Consent Form .............................................................................................. 237   viii List of Tables Table 1 Short Description of the Narrative Themes   ............................................................ 83 Table 2 Characters and Codes Associated with Narrative Themes ...................................... 84 Table 3 Restoring process for narrative theme II: “What is an economist anyway?” .......... 86 Table 4 Participants’ Roles in the Movement ........................................................................ 94 Table 5 Restoring Example from Data for Theme IV (how do students resist) ................... 101   ix List of Figures Figure 3.1 Process of data collection and analysis ............................................................... 98 Figure 3.2 Main thematic elements used to identify and assign initial codes ....................... 98 Figure 3.3 Data analysis process – second round of coding ................................................. 99 Figure 3.4 Performative analysis process ........................................................................... 100 Figure 4.1 A man holding a briefcase and surrounded by numbers and pounds symbols. . 117 Figure 4.2 A man in a meeting pointing to a graph and surrounded by bills and pounds symbols. ................................................................................................................................ 118 Figure 4.3 A man using a tie thinking about money. ........................................................... 119   x List of Acronyms CORE  – Curriculum in Open-access Resources in Economics INET – Institute for New Economic Thinking  ISIPE – International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics  NPÖG – Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik in Germany.  PCES – Post-Crash Economics Society  PEPS  – Économie in France  REN  – Rethinking Economics Network   xi Acknowledgements I offer my enduring gratitude to Dr. E. Wayne Ross, Dr. Sandra Mathison and Dr. Stephen Petrina. Thank you all so much for your generous guiding, listening, your thoughtful questions and suggestions as I worked through the doctoral program. I especially want to thank my supervisor, Wayne Ross, for your kindness, patience, and your insightful and provoking questions and feedback throughout this journey.  Thank you to the faculty, staff and my fellow students at UBC, who have provoked my thinking and inspired me to continue my work in this field. I owe particular thanks to my colleague Michelle Gautreaux for always being there to encourage me, many thanks for her support and valuable feedback. Special thanks to the students from Post-Crash Economic Society and the students’ members of the Rethinking Economics Network for their support, enthusiasm and engagement with the project. I am especially grateful to the students who participate in this study and generously share their time, knowledge and narratives with me. All my gratitude to my family, José, Mom, Dad, Lili and Lore who supported me during this time and loved me unconditionally.   xii Dedication I dedicate this thesis to the student activists who are working to change higher education and the world.  Chapter 1. Introduction 1.1 The Neoliberal University  Universities are the conscience of society. As a diverse social institution, the university is often regarded as the "caisse de résonance" of social and political concerns and as well as tensions latent in society. As a result of the diversity of people that work and attend universities, they have also been regarded as spaces of exploration and laboratories of new possible ways of thinking about and transforming the world (Sotiris, 2014). At the same time, the possibility for universities being critical and independent spaces has been increasingly threatened and even turned into the opposite. The neoliberal university is governed by the conformity of opinion, interests and dynamics of the market, and corporate elites (Mathison & Ross, 2002; Petrina & Ross, 2014). In education, neoliberalism1 means that public schools and universities are governed and managed as private enterprises using business principals and focused on efficiency and the market. According to supporters of the neoliberal reform of education, the dynamics of the private sector, free competition, consumer choice, and one-way accountability, among other practices, have the capacity to bring positive transformations to universities and schools (Marginson, 2004; Rhoades & Slaughter, 2010a; Spooner & McNinch, 2018). For universities, privileging the practices and instruments of the neoliberal market economy implies, for example, taking measures to transform organizational structures, policies, and  1 Neoliberalism is a phase of capitalism that promotes the privatization and deregulation of all institutions, fields, and sectors of society. Services offered by governments mirror private enterprises. A characteristic of neoliberalism is the primacy of the free market as the legitimate economic approach to guide decision making in all social institutions.  2 procedures to favor free competition and deregulation, so market forces freely influence the way education is understood and offered in society.  During the 1990s governments around the world started to intensify neoliberal reforms of higher education, which put universities in a position where they had to respond to the dynamics of privatization, commercialization, and corporatization (Hill & Kumar, 2009). For example, in England, as Maisuria (2014) suggests, the government intensified the neoliberal agenda by “trebling the cap on university fees and placing a greater emphasis on league tables – both in the service of marketisation – whilst also concentrating funding on disciplines that can evidence contribution to economic growth” (p. 288). Under neoliberalism universities have to enter in a competition for resources, prestige, students, and top academics. In the 21st Century, neoliberalism has largely revolutionized universities to adjust them to the dynamics of the markets, and transform their ‘raison d'être’, as Grimmett and Young (2012) articulate: universities are no longer central to the formation and cultural continuity of the nation state, and their traditional role in knowledge production, critique, and cultural production/reproduction is downplayed. Rather, they [universities] are pressured to become the tool of academic capitalism in support of economic development and global competitiveness. (p. 11) As a result of neoliberalism, the model of governance in private companies has been adopted by universities because it is considered to be the most efficient and competitive. Therefore, schools and universities are reforming themselves as if they are private providers of educational services. This logic implies that education is seen as a process, students and knowledge as clients, and efficiency and productivity are the strongest public policy criteria  3 to make decisions and impulsive reforms. Under the logic of private companies, accountability gains preponderance. Performance indicators which must be measured in order to quantify, compare, and stimulate competition have become the basic criteria to evaluate the quality of educational institutions (Ross & Gibson, 2007; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2000; Slaughter & Rhoades, 2009; Spooner & McNinch, 2018).  Therefore, as a definition, neoliberal universities could be understood as higher education institutions that act and look like capitalist enterprises. Universities progressively more interested in income and revenue. As Slaughter and Rhoades (2000) explain, the concept of a neoliberal university is linked to two metaphors: “academic capitalism” and “managed professionals.” The first metaphor refers to a set of marketable aspects of universities, where higher education institutions are “aimed at making money without running the capitalists’ risk of going belly-up, since the academic institutions are cushioned by extensive public support” (p. 73). The second metaphor refers to the “rapid expansion of nonfaculty support professionals and a reduction, through outsourcing, in the number of non-professionals” employees (p. 73).  Bleiklie (1998) and Deem and Brehony (2005) suggest that university governance is one of the many areas in which higher education has been affected the most. Neoliberalism brought the “New Public Management” (NPM) trend to public administration that has fostered a transition in universities from collegial to corporate governance. NPM governance emphasizes performance, efficiency and one-way accountability management and it has been described as the “the organizational form of neo-liberalism” (Lynch, 2014). According to Bleiklie (1998), NPM is based on “the conviction that greater efficiency can be achieved by means of performance indicators” (p. 307). Therefore, “the administrative aspect of  4 university governance should be strengthened to ensure a standardised and controllable treatment of the growing burden of teaching and research.” (Bleiklie, 1998, p.307). This is one of the reasons that explains, in some respects, why universities have increased their numbers of employees in the administrative sections while the number of faculty has barely seen an increment (Spicer, 2017). The narrative of neoliberalism has progressively become more dominant in today’s society. In education, for instance, many of the narratives around the how institutions see, understand, and characterize the student have also adapted to articulate a market-like logic. In universities, the transformation of the student from a learner to a consumer has been notorious. For example, this transformation has implied an assumption that people become students not because they are interested in knowledge or learning itself but instead because they want to attain the credentials and guarantee a future material outcome (Persell & Wenglinsky, 2004). Although in most of western universities the approach to curriculum authority, learning and pedagogy remains controversial, as the literature review will elaborate in detail, the way in which tuition is approached reveals the market-oriented logic towards students, since the students are seen as the ones who have to pay for their education because they are the ones who will benefit economically from it. Another example of the penetration of neoliberal ideology in the sector is the constant support and promotion of international and national rankings, even rankings based on student learning experiences, like student satisfaction indexes. NPM’s emphasis on accountability has facilitated the overrated spectacle of rankings. As Stack (2016) argues, the rise of rankings is part of the neoliberal framework to approach education as they are tools to promote competition and a culture of surveillance. Rankings are one of the main instruments of the industry to promote  5 competition among post-secondary institutions globally. Rankings are publicised as if they were information tools for students and parents to choose the better university in which to invest money. However, they do not reflect the issues of accessibility that students and academics face in universities. In Stack’s words, “ranking supporters argue that they provide students with objective data to make choices. The problem is that… the vast majority of the world’s students do not have the capital to choose, and rankings amplify inequities” (para. 4). Likewise, accountability can be closely related to surveillance and it feeds into a growing culture of spectacle nourished by ranking tables and implicit competition to determine which university is on the top. As Mathison and Ross (2002) argue:  The power of surveillance is born out in part by the spectacle that may result from accounting by those to whom power has been delegated. In other words, the powerful in small numbers are surveilling the performance of many (through means such as standardized tests) which in turn become spectacles observed by the many (as in when schools test scores are reported on the front page of the newspaper). (p. 89) Under the NPM model, education is seen from a social efficiency perspective and a functionalist viewpoint. Education is related to the connection between knowledge, skills, aptitudes, abilities, and the needs that companies have to perform well in a neoliberal capitalist society. From the standpoints of functionalism and social efficiency, educational institutions have the role to ensure a satisfactory match between the professional skills, knowledge and abilities of the student and the specific needs and performances required from companies. The output of the university is the input from the job market, they are well prepared students that guarantee an appropriate functioning of neoliberal capitalist society. Universities then, have the role to offer people the knowledge, skills, and learning  6 experiences that they need to be able in the future to get a job and perform well. As Marginson (2004) puts it, NPM follows a neoliberal narrative that assumes that “students invest in education in order to form themselves as human capital and thereby augment their productivity and maximize their future earning power” (p. 185). Scholars supporting neoliberal reforms have provided studies that intend to show the benefits of formal education as an "investment" from which people and society collect quantifiable economic and social benefits (Marginson, 2004; Molesworth, Nixon, & Scullion, 2010). Knowledge disciplines have also transformed themselves to successfully meet the demands of neoliberalism. In the disciplines, the professionals and scientific associations (e.g., American Economic Association) have taken a central role defining trends in teaching and researching. Corporations, professional communities, and associations have also taken further control of how education works in universities. As Mathison and Ross (2002) argue, academics and professors are losing control over their academic labor, the pedagogy, and content in their teaching, and in the topics and methods of their research. The corporate interests are present at board of directors in universities and policies that determine future funding research projects, favoring some disciplines instead of others and influencing faculty hiring and firing decisions.  Spooner and McNinch (2018) describe contemporary higher education as a “de-funded, highly individualized, hyper-competitive, and perversely incentivized moment” where value equated with accountancy and the primary tools of governance are numbers, “incentives, de-incentives and competitive benchmarking” (p. xxv). Neoliberal managerialism has transformed the culture of university by threatening and in many cases undermining longstanding values characteristics of academe such as collaboration,  7 collegiality, freedom to research, critique and organize (Petrina, 2012; Petrina & Ross, 2014; Spooner & McNinch, 2018). The seductive and insidious nature of management is such that it holds the potential to disorient people, causing them to lose sight of universities’ more laudable missions—as typically encapsulated in their mottos—and to focus rather on depersonalized spreadsheets and the false idol of a narrowly defined accountability. Audit culture’s tentacles diminish disciplinary autonomy and local authority, bypassing criteria documents and performance review bodies. Ultimately at stake is the very notion of what can be considered knowledge itself. (Spooner & McNinch, 2018, p. xxv) Neoliberalism and neoliberal reforms have been strongly resisted in higher education. The book, Fighting Academic Repression and Neoliberal Education, Nocella II and Juergensmeyer (2017) lay out vivid experiences of a myriad of efforts of professors and students to fight against the neoliberal reforms to education and the repression they suffer as consequence of surveillance, coercion, threats, and despotism in the university. This book gathers many collective efforts from scholars and the academic communities around the world to undertake research and learning practices that give voice to the many efforts to resist the expansion of the neoliberal project in higher education. Other examples of the resistance movement against neoliberalism in higher education can be found in students’ uprisings around the world during the 2010’s (the Chilean student movement of 2011, the United Kingdom student occupations in 2010, Maple Spring in Canada, the MANE in 2011 Colombia, etc.). Likewise, the work made by student organizations attempting to assemble an international initiative to coordinate global efforts, learn from each other, and build a  8 resistance network among students’ organizers worldwide is one the most commendable efforts of student global resistance against neoliberalism in universities. One of the initiatives that has a strong international scope is the one promoted through the International Student Movement, where students and student organizations are creating a culture of exchanging strategies and tactics designed to fight against contemporary forms of academic repression.  In England the work of the Free University Network involves a group of students and academics working to create collaborative autonomous and alternative educative spaces of learning. Those spaces seek to base their work and approach to learning on practices different from those offered by the neoliberal university (Maisuria, 2014). Other efforts around the world also seek a similar end. They replicate alternative forms of pedagogy and education where students and academics collectively are building networks of solidarity. Education from an alternative perspective contributes instruments for people to better exercise their citizenship. This dissertation contributes elements to analyze and better understand one example of an international effort to build up resistance: the economics student movement to challenge economics education.  1.2 Economics Education The economy and economic problems are central cultural narratives in today’s world. Mass media, politicians, and journalists continuously focus their attention on issues related to the economy. Indeed, conversations about how the economy affects every aspect of one’s life are quotidian. Development, happiness, and wellbeing have become quantifiable variables to be shown in the news and public policy reports, where their significance is represented in terms of having an economic value to society. For the current generation of youth, who  9 transitioned into universities under the shadow of the global financial crisis of 20082, the economy is not only a central narrative to build up a career and reassure a stable future but also a matter of constant concern and anxiety. Financial and economic considerations are common conditions in most of the decisions that people take in today’s life. The economy determines access to education, safety, health, jobs and so on.  The crisis of 2007-2008 brought unemployment, debt, inequality, poverty, and economic uncertainty. Now more that 10 years later, with COVID-19 pandemic, the world’s population and particularly the current generation of youth are experiencing the anxiety and worry of the inevitability of one of the worst economic and environmental crises of all times (World Bank, 2020). Latour’s (2014) lectures in Copenhagen refer to the feeling of helplessness that is closely related to any talk about the economy. He wonders, “why is it that when we are asked or summoned to combat capitalism, we feel, I feel so helpless?” (Latour, 2014). For Latour, the economy has changed the way people interact and live in the world. For example, the use of the planet and the relationship people have with it in the economy is primarily as a source of resources to exploit. Latour suggests that “the laws of economics,”  2 In summary, the financial crisis of 2007-2008 originated in United States and began with depreciation of the subprime mortgage market. The crisis quickly extended across the world affecting not only the US, but mainly the economy of countries members of the European Union. It started after the burst of the US housing bubble in 2005, when the prices of houses increased and the interest rates for subprime mortgages skyrocketed. Many owners were not able to pay or refinance their mortgages and banks transferred the debt assets to their investors. At the same time, banks were not willing to make available more loans given the level of debt which resulted in an extended credit crisis. When housing prices fell so did the mortgage-backed derivatives that were circulating among international investors. In June 2008, several banks and financial institutions around the world announced substantial losses and faced bankruptcy. In addition to the financial crisis, also nations around the world experienced the effects of high prices in oil, commodities, and raw materials. As a consequence of the crisis, the global financial system collapsed as well as people's trust in financial institutions. Economies around the world were severely impacted. In terms of employment, many people lost their jobs which increased the amount of precarious employment and chronic unemployment. Inequality reached historical figures and less young people were able to find employment opportunities and financial and economic stability. For more details about the financial crisis of 2007- 2008 and its causes and consequences see Tooze (2018) and Magdoff and Foster (2009).  10 as he calls the rules that govern economic interactions, have been able to transcend the laws of physics and the logics of human survival in the planet, bringing feelings of uncertainty, confusion, and helplessness when people face the need to challenge capitalism and change the economy. Paralysis is the state in which people do not know what to do and how to take action. In this state of paralysis, the only ones that profit are capitalists, who own the means of production and continue to exploit the land and resources and whose business remain profitable.  However, the COVID-19 pandemic and the destruction of the environment are not the only crises in the way, as capitalism is built on a never-ending cycle of economic crises (Patnaik, 2016) that have been historically referenced and researched by economists and academics. In the study of science, sociologists, anthropologists, and philosophers that have researched economics as a discipline conclude that economists perform markets (Callon, 1998). This means that the discipline of economics does not only observe and study the economy, but it shapes how it functions. Indeed, many economists, such as MacKenzie, Muniesa, and Siu, L. (2007), endorse this capacity of the discipline to shape the economy as a triumph of economic science. According to their view, science should not be only be about “knowing” the world but about producing it and transforming it. MacKenzie, Muniesa, and Siu, L. (2007) state: “It is not (only) about economics being “right” or “wrong” but (also, and perhaps more important) about it being “able” or “unable” to transform the world” (p. 2). In effect, economists are invested in the transformation of the economic and social world, they actively participate in policymaking, and economics schools are interested in teaching future economists the tools and skills to maintain the economy and the status quo running. Many of the effects of global financial crisis of 2008 continue unabated and unexplained while the  11 world is now thrown into the COVID-19 economic collapse (World Bank, 2020; Magdoff & Foster, 2009; Patnaik, 2016). Several of the perils that influenced and deepened the last recession are still part of the economic landscape today: an increasing rate of global inequality among the income and wealth distribution (for individuals and countries) (Credit Suisse Research Institute, 2019;, 2018), and financial markets reaching ever higher levels of concentration (Ruza, 2018). To illustrate even more, Hill and Kumar (2009) elaborate on the impact that neoliberal capitalism has on inequality. As they describe, since 2005 “nine countries (4 percent of the world’s population) have reduced the wealth gap between rich and poor, whilst 80 % of the world’s population have recorded an increase in wealth inequity” (p. 13). Therefore, it is relevant to wonder if the crises are originated or deepened by models taught in economics schools and if it is so, it is important to consider rethinking these models.  Historically, economics as a discipline and economists have maintained strong relationships with institutions of power, politicians, bankers, governments, and elites (Fourcade, 2009). These relationships have also become a concern, for instance, since 2011, economists engaged in a public debate around the need to address the ethical compromises and conflict of interests in economic publications, opinions, journalism, and professional recommendations. According to Fourcade (2009), economics as a discipline has been shaped by the “interrelationship” of its practitioners with institutions of power, the class elites, and the business class. Economists, such as Carrick-Hagenbarth and Epstein (2012) have argued that the interconnectedness of economics with institutions of power generates major concerns given the amount of credibility that the discipline has in the public’s opinion and the capacity to influence people’s decisions and perform the markets. In 2011, hundreds of economists  12 advocated for the adoption of an ethics code by economists worldwide, and in the American Economic Association meeting, 300 economists signed a public letter (Lowrey, 2011; The Economist, 2011) and staid a conversation about the minimal ethical standards required to exercise professionally in economics.  Historically, the hegemony of the neoclassical economic theory in economics curriculum has also been intensely questioned. Economics education has remained highly homogenous and barely offers to students any different comprehensive interpretation of the complex economic reality besides the models and theories aligned to neoclassical economics. This characteristic of economics makes particularly relevant all the discipline-based content in economics education. Economists are not only interested in understanding the world and the markets but performing them and maintaining the status quo. At the same time that economists praise their capability to perform markets, mainstream neoclassical economics philosophy has been continuously criticized and challenged, mainly because of its assumptions and reductionist abstractions (Kjosavik, 2003). One of the more criticized pillars of neoclassical economics is methodological individualism: the idea that economic interpretations of reality must be obtained at the level of the individual agent, and ignoring that individuals are conditioned by their social context. Under the assumption of individualism, people are supposed to be selfish and emphasize in the economic interactions that generate utility and allow them to accumulate resources within the rules of the market in a capitalist system. However, emotions, feelings, fears, hopes, and other motivations besides the economics ones are often neglected in most of mainstream economics models. Another methodological and philosophical concept grounding neoclassical economics is utilitarianism. This ethical theory considers that the essential in any interactions are the  13 consequences of actions rather than processes. The consequences are judged according to the utility they generate and are used as a synonym for a degree of wellbeing or happiness. The premise is that people will always want to maximize wellbeing or happiness and minimize pain, discomfort, or sadness. However, wellbeing in most of mainstream models is oversimplified since it is attainable only through the consumption of goods and services. The utility function is the mathematical formula that seeks to measure the consumption of individuals and households and through some calculations reflecting the wellbeing of the population. Economists do mathematical exercises to maximize this function, which is subject to the budgetary restriction of each individual. The reductionist and simplistic view of wellbeing and happiness has been one of the major counterarguments to this approach.  In addition, many of the critiques to economics refers to its heavy grounding on models that have maintained the hegemony of neoclassical economic theory. In addition, economists from the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET, 2013b) argue, neoclassical economics has contributed to an excessive use of mathematical methods. As a result, economics schools and the discipline have fostered a disproportionate mathematization of the discipline. However, in this regard neither employers nor students, as Colander and McGoldrick (2009) show, are interested in a highly technical orientation in the teaching of economics. Students’ preference leans towards business management, finances, and entrepreneurship, and employers prefer economists with problem solving skills and the ability to apply their toolkits to a variety of empirical situations (INET, 2013b). Therefore, the mathematization of economics seems to be explained by the way in which hegemonic knowledge is reproduced and perpetuated by dominant social groups.  14 The hegemony of neoclassical economics is highly problematic, and the urge to review economics education and change economics comes from different voices and historically students have made constant calls to their discipline to transform itself. For example, student activists in the 2012 movement for change in economics suggest, if society is urged to change how people interact economically, justice, fairness, equality, and sustainability should be part of the models and theories that perform the markets and shape the economy (Earle, Moral, & Ward-Perkins, 2017; ISIPE, 2014). To do so, the education and models used in economics need to change and add pluralistic approaches to economic theory, methods, and pedagogies. These are some of the many aspects that economics students are urging their peers to review and transform.  1.3 The Importance of the Struggle over Economics Curriculum  The COVID-19 pandemic, an ecological disaster as well as the cyclical economic crisis are concerns for this generation of economists and professionals. To prevent or just ameliorate the effects of crises, there is an urgent need to change the way in which societies organize and think economically about themselves and the world (Klein, 2015; Patnaik, 2016). The COVID-19 economic recession is deepened by the inequalities and disparities of growth and productivity among countries (World Bank, 2020). The environmental crisis is deep-rooted in a development model that characterizes neoliberal capitalism. This model is grounded on a paradigm of infinite growth and consumerism regardless of ecological effects, public health, or the degradation of the environment (Klein, 2015). In neoliberalism, interests from private enterprises prevail against public interests and the environment. For instance, the current economic system does not deter private companies to irrationally and unsustainably exploit natural resources, increase their carbon emissions, and pollute. Indeed,  15 there are many countries where there is largely more awareness about the forthcoming environmental crisis and this awareness has created a culture to better regulate productive practices within their border. However, to reduce their national emissions in the global north, these countries have transferred their exploitative industries to less privileged countries in the global south, where regulation of public health and the environment are minimal. Therefore, privileged countries have created sacrifice zones where the exploitation of resources and the contamination of water sources create hostile environments for hundreds of local communities, mostly located in the global south (Klein, 2015). The destruction of natural resources and the concentration of wealth in urban areas also lead to an increase in inequality since most of the world's population is forced to live in big cities. People, energy consumption, construction, industries, traffic, and environmental pollution are highly concentrated in big cities. The deterioration of the environment and the public health in the global south are a tangible consequence of disparities encouraged by a neoliberal capitalist economic system. In summary, privileged countries protect themselves with regulations, establishing the conditions for clean air and water and somewhat ease the high quantities of pollution and environmental devastation, which many communities are living with in the global south (Klein, 2015). In the long run, neoliberal capitalism remains unable to offer a just and sustainable solution to the forthcoming environmental crisis.  The economy, economics, and economics education have become central concerns for activists who want to transform the social, economic, political, and environmental conditions that are favouring climate change and speeding up ecological disasters and devastation. For instance, since the last economic crisis, students around the world have organized themselves in a movement to challenge and rethink their own education.  16 According to them, it is crucial to take the time to reimagine how people interact economically with each other and to rethink the overrated importance that economic information, economic growth, and economic development have in the way in which western societies are been organized (Earle et al., 2017; ISIPE, 2014; PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). In this way, students want to rethink economics and transform the economy.  Since 2012, economics students have organized themselves in a movement to campaign for a change in the economics curriculum. This group of students has two main demands: the need to put the “real world” back into the study of economics and pluralism within the curriculum, which means inclusion of a diversity of theories and methods in both the content of the economics curriculum and pedagogy within university economics programs. An aspect that urgently needs revision according to economics students in the movement is that mainstream economics education is constrained by neoclassical theory and methods that basically expect them to hold unrealistic assumptions, limit their possibilities to fully understanding of the economy, and frustrate their intellectual experience (Earl et al, 2017). The real-world challenges that this generation of students are facing are barely mentioned in the curriculum and the current approach to teaching economics limits their understanding of the economy (Rieser, 2013). An example of how economics education limits students’ understanding of the economy is the artificial separation between microeconomics and macroeconomics. This separation has created a false division of economic problems that obstructs a comprehensive reading of the relevant problems in society. In short, students argue that economics education in universities is taught in a narrow way. It remains uncritical, it minimizes critical engagement and, it is disconnected from real- 17 life economic problems (Earle et al., 2017; ISIPE, 2014; PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014).  In terms of instructional methods and the relationship between knowledge, pedagogy, and the classroom, students claim that their university experience is based on teaching not on learning (Earle et al., 2017). The transmission of knowledge is privileged in settings such as lectures and large classrooms. Students claim that their economics seminars are focused on memorizing theory and models and regurgitating them for exams. In most of their coursework, students have to solve abstract equations or undertake multiple-choice tests, while textbooks are given an excessive importance (Earle et al., 2017). Therefore, there is little to no space to learn how to challenge and critically engage with economics knowledge, tools, and models. Students argue that they are not encouraged to form independent judgment about the tools and knowledge they are expected to use and learn (Earle et al., 2017). On the other hand, as Cahal, a student leader and activist from the Post-Crash Economics Society mentions during the interviews, one of the consequences of prominent use of textbooks is that students have developed contempt for reading the main authors in the history of economic thought. Students do not know the primary sources and the ideologies behind the models they must study. In addition, given the use of standardized material, the examples and exercises that students review in textbooks are highly abstract, separated and irrelevant to their local contexts, since most of the cases and examples are either happening in illusionary worlds, isolated islands, or are abstractions (INET, 2013b).  One of the first attempts to build an economics student movement seeking to change economics education happened during 1970s at the University of Sydney, where a group of faculty and students created a local organization to ask for change in the neoliberal and  18 neoclassical content. Similarly, to the campaign in 2012, the dispute involved differing opinions about the nature of the curriculum, pedagogy, assessment methods, and the structures of governance and decision making in the program (Butler, Jones, & Stilwell, 2009). In the 1970s, the movement at the University of Sydney negotiated and succeeded in their agenda of transforming the economic curriculum. The university agreed to open a political economy department based on Marxian, institutionalist post-Keynesian, feminist, and environmentalist analyses (Stilwell, 2006). The debate at the University of Sydney was highly ideological and political as it was shown in a radio podcast of ABC Australia:  With its emphasis on individualism, choice, markets and efficiency, and its neglect of institutions, economic history and collective interests, the new curriculum was anathema to many students and staff. By the early 1970s a forceful movement had developed in opposition. For more than a decade, the battle raged between those fighting to develop, nurture and defend the teaching of alternative economics, and the conservative forces on campus - which included senior academic staff in the Faculty of Economics, the University administration and right-wing student politicians. (Allam, 2013) The context and the ideological grounding of the students involved in the dispute over the teaching of economics at University of Sydney informs how today’s debate also holds an important political and ideological component. Years later, the Post-Autistic Economics movement (in French: mouvement des étudiants pour une réforme de l'enseignement de l'économie) campaigned to reform French economics education, criticized neoclassical economics, and advocated for pluralism in the economics curricula. Similarly, in the same year, a group of PhD students at Cambridge university also emerged to ask for a  19 reform in economics education in their department. The group was called “The Cambridge 27” and they wrote a public petition called "Opening Up Economics" (The Cambridge 27, 2001) to demand change in their education. In the United Kingdom, the campaign for pluralism has been building up networks with activists that were part of previous movements in France, Australia, and England. Many of the activists that participated in earlier movements have integrated their efforts into the current campaign and are supporting student activists in their role as university professors or professionals in economics. Currently, British students lead many global and local initiatives (e.g., Post-Crash Economics Society, Rethinking Economics, ISIPE-International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics, among others). They constitute networks of several student organizations, academics, and professionals interested in building alternative ways to understanding and thinking about economics in society and the classroom. As part of their activism, students took on the task to write up reports offering evidence about the state of their academic program and proposed alternatives. For example, one report made by students at the University of Manchester argues for the need to find different assessment methods regarding introductory models of economics so as to promote critical engagement with models (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). This report found 78% of exam questions asked students to show mastery of models and equations without asking for any independent or critical thinking, this is the case for 172 economics modules at seven universities in the United Kingdom (Earle et al., 2017; PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). The first student society that started the movement in 2012 in the University of Manchester was the Post-Crash Economics Society (PCES). This society was one of the leading organizations in the UK, campaigning for pluralism in economics. Up to now, they  20 have been an active student organization characterized by having a close relation to the media and by the use of different strategies and to call the world’s attention and put public pressure on their department to revise the economics program. In their first appearance in social and national media, students from the Post-Crash Economics Society (2012) asked for 5 changes in their university programs: 1. To disclose explicitly the theory or philosophy behind each one of the concepts and models in economics.  2. To include economic history and the historical context in the syllabus.  3. To offer high quality courses in alternative economic perspectives.  4. To disclose explicitly fictional assumptions, models and concepts. 5. To add academic spaces designed for critical discussion of models and concepts. The agenda of the movement from 2012 to the present has evolved to include many other student organizations that have joined together to create a global movement. Students have consolidated networks of cooperation, such as the Rethinking Economics Network3 in the UK, PEPS Économie4 in France, and Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik5 in Germany. The agenda of the movement nowadays has a global scope. It involves a network of researchers, professionals, economists, and academics that are doing different work, seeking to do  3  4  5   21 alternative research, transform pedagogical practices, and lobby to change economics education.  In the context of COVID-19 economic crisis, economics schools, students, and faculty members continue in their efforts to make visible the need to rethink economics education and transform it (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2020). Meanwhile, economics departments since 2012 have largely ignored the students’ campaign. Students have centered their efforts to build a global movement that involves not only academics but interested people all across the UK and beyond and have integrated several strategies of self-education and popular education that are free and open to the public. One strategy that students promote is a community economics education program designed as a series of workshops to introduce people with no prior knowledge of economics to some basic economic concepts and methods (Hayward, 2015).  The current health, economic, social, environmental, and political context urges a rethinking of economics and take relevant action to transform how the economy is understood and how economics is taught in universities. The new generations of economists are approaching a world that challenges them with a health, social, and environmental crisis that needs skills to better understand problems and the abilities to take transformative action. Heterodox, non-mainstream approaches to economic problems have long existed (Keynesian, Marxian, etc.), but the effects of all these crises have made it urgent to review the syllabi and content of economics programs.  In Economics, Education and Unlearning, Post-Crash Economics Society students argue:   22 The crisis has also laid bare the latent inadequacies of economic models with unique stationary equilibria and rational expectations. These models have failed to make sense of the sorts of extreme macro-economic events, such as crises, recessions and depressions, which matter most to society. The expectations of agents, when push came to shove, proved to be anything but rational, instead driven by the fear of the herd or the unknown. The economy in crisis behaved more like slime descending a warehouse wall than Newton’s pendulum, its motion more organic than harmonic. (p. 4) In the global financial crisis of 2008, mainstream economists found themselves unable to explain what was happening as the economy behaved in unexpected ways. The crisis of economics as a discipline captured the attention of mainstream media for more than a year until the media moved on to other issues. The movement for pluralism in economics raised awareness in students, economists, and policymakers, who are not indifferent to the idea of rethinking and re-imagining economic knowledge. In October 2009, the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) was founded with the idea to “reshape” economic thinking, “to nurture a global community of next-generation economic leaders, to provoke new economic thinking, and to inspire the economics profession to engage the challenges of the 21st century” (INET, 2013a).  The Institute for New Economic Thinking, in 2014, as a response to the students and the public attention brought by the media, published a proposal of a new core curriculum for economics called Curriculum in Open-access Resources in Economics CORE. The objective of the CORE curriculum is to:   23 equip students to understand how the economy has evolved and how it works by bringing advances in economics research over the past three decades, lessons from economic history, and the comparative experience of different countries into the curriculum. (INET, 2013a)  Today, CORE is a free, online, open-access textbook6 that aims to introduce economics to first-year students. The idea behind CORE was to offer a solution to the demands to rethink the introductory courses to economics. However, INET’s CORE has been criticized by students in the movement because it retains the same methodological features as standard economic theory introductory courses (Earle et al., 2017). Student assessment in CORE works similarly to other courses in economics and is based on multiple-choice questionnaires that do not stimulate critical thinking, independent judgment, and comprehensive engagement. Although CORE had a participatory construction and was a collaborative effort that involved students and professors around the world, it is still predominantly neoclassical in its theoretical and methodological framework and neglects the limitation of the dominant discourses in economics (Earle et al., 2017; Rieser, 2013). Students in the movement recognize that CORE is a pedagogical improvement on many of the established textbooks, since it incorporates context relevant examples and attempts to make economics education more engaging, but it is not pluralist and does not promote critical thinking. In conclusion, students argue that CORE does not offer any real solution to the key problems that introductory courses to economics have, does not resolve urges to change the discipline and its pedagogy.   6   24 As the movement grows, activist students continue efforts to make visible the need for a pluralist curriculum in economics. The knowledge gap between technical expertise, mathematical modeling, and the democratic public sphere is a failing of economics. Economists have constructed a discipline of an inaccessible, imbalanced, and highly technical and colonial knowledge. The movement not only denounces, disrupts, and challenges the imbalance in economics but also seeks to find within the grounds of active citizenship a way to resolve the problems of the discipline by building bridges between economic knowledge and the exercise of citizenship.  Through the pedagogical potential of activism, students have further developed programs, conferences, and crash courses to democratize economic knowledge. In student social action there are many examples of similar efforts where students seek to reinvent their relationship with the university, with knowledge, and their discipline. Examples of students organizing teaching sessions for people to better understand how policies affect their daily life during the movements in Chile 2011 is an example of the efforts made by student organizers in the articulation between students and the general public.  1.4 My Experiences in Economics Education and my Personal Journey  In this dissertation, I explore the experiences of student activists in the movement and how their involvement in activism has been an opportunity for them to rediscover the field, to forge critical thinking, independent judgment, and rethink their own identity as students, activists, and future economists. My interests in students organizing in economics education and the pedagogical potential of curricular activism started from my own personal disappointment with economics education and my increasing interest in student activism. I  25 did my master’s degree in Economics during the financial crisis of 2008 and I closely followed the development of student organizations challenging the curriculum in the United Kingdom and around the world. Similar to the students within the movement, as a student at the Universidad Nacional of Colombia, I was frustrated with economic theory and methods. Although I liked the study of the economy, I felt constantly disappointed about how economics was taught at the university level. My own personal frustrations with economics education allowed me to sympathize with the students in the movement and stimulate my interest to explore how their experience in curricular activism was transforming their identities as and future economists, activists and their role as citizens.  Besides my personal relation with economics as a discipline, also I experienced many of the neoliberal reforms of the 2010s to education both as a student and as a worker. During my time studying and working in university in Colombia, I was sensitive to the work of student organizations and activists that fought and continue to struggle against the neoliberal reforms to higher education. My interest about the future of the public university in the context of the neoliberalism brought me to maintain a close intellectual interest in how students organize themselves and how political and social activism was affecting my studies, perceptions, and experiences at the university.  During my doctoral studies, I had the opportunity to intellectually engage in social research and explore economics education and student activism in economics education as a social and educational researcher. My own interpretations and expectations about the movement constantly shifted as the research project took form from an idea to the final draft of the dissertation. Ollman’s (2004) work inspired me to understand that a better comprehension of social reality requires me to acknowledge how my own interests and  26 curiosities began from my experiences as economics student and how they are connected to my own understandings of activism, and my intellectual approach to educational theory and research. I consider that my research interest as well as the research process was directly influenced by my personal frustration with economics education. Likewise, my experiences informed my own interpretations about what it is like to be an economics student frustrated by her discipline, as well as how are students approaching activism and pedagogy. As Ollman (2004) suggests, it is unjustifiable to pretend to understand or interpret something as if it were separated from the system or the historical context in which the researchers are living. In my case, I lived the 2008 crisis during my master’s program in an Economics department. That same year, different academic and administrative reforms were implemented in the university where I studied. I was part of a strong wave of activism in the public universities in Colombia. All these experiences motivated me and deeply contributed to ground and move forward my interest in the research project.  In this study, I explored student activism in economics education through narratives. These narratives connected contemporary approaches to student activism with the dynamics of the neoliberal university. In addition, this research offers a student point of view regarding the hegemony of neoclassical economics theory, the lack of pluralism in economics, and the way pedagogical authority is exercised in the relationships among faculty and students in the contemporary neoliberal university. I use students’ narratives as accounts of their experiences and perceptions about student life and about how they engage in curriculum activism. In this study, storytelling is located as one of the central mechanisms in which people make sense of the world around them and share meanings, perceptions, interpretations, and critical judgments.  27  Social movements or any sort of collective action are often sources of a variety of stories. Narratives are traces of the existence and transcendence of the social movements and they account for the movement’s agenda, growth, and transformation (Ewick & Silbey, 1995; Polletta, 2006). Narratives create and express meanings for members inside the movement and people outside of it, because they keep track of interpretations that people make about the world as a version of how history is being transformed by collective social action. I use a performative approach to narrative analysis that allows me to present a staged picture of student activism in economics departments. The methodology invites and provokes readers to recreate and perform the arguments and stories presented by students. The final narrative themes are performative devices are intended to create a dynamic of involvement between the reader, the researcher, and the students in the movement (Riessman, 2008). A performative approach gives voice to particular moments in students’ lives and recreates their experiences as they offer an interpretation of the relationship that students developed with universities, their degrees, and their activist work.  The seven narrative themes represent how students’ experiences are framed and how they prompt reflections into students’ identities, hopes, life experiences, beliefs, values, attitudes, and ideologies. In addition, the structure of narrative themes helps readers to approach the movement in an organized way, and to center their attention on the meanings that are being shared theme by theme. My goal is that this research contributes to a greater understanding of economics students’ perspectives and experiences while they are engaging in curricular activism.  This research dialogues with curriculum theory, social movement scholarship, and educational philosophy. The narrative themes suggest a depiction of student experiences in  28 higher education and in economics education, and a window into how curricular activism is experienced in universities. As the world continues to embrace neoliberal capitalism and universities fall deeper into corporate logics, resistance is creating spaces to reassemble how students interact and connect with each other and the world. In addition, it is in resistance and collective action where people find laboratories to experiment not only different ways to relate to each other but also alternative ways to understand their identities and roles in society while they learn, teach, and engage in collective action.  1.5 Research Questions This study employs a methodological framework that consists of an ethnographic and performative approach to narrative analysis. Narrative analysis is a method that can facilitate understanding and interpretation of human experience. In this case, narrative analysis contributes to exploring how students make sense of and reflect upon the relations between social action, pedagogy, and studenthood. In particular, this methodology helps to interpret and represent how students in the movement to challenge economics education see themselves, understand their role as activists and students, and narrate their experiences doing curricular activism in their universities. The main research question that guides this study is:  How do economics students understand and experience their activism in the age of the neoliberal university and how is their experience as students transformed by social action?  The main goal of the study is to develop a representation of the economics student activist as a pedagogical subject in the middle of an interaction between a discipline-based economics education and social action. One of the primary arguments in this dissertation is  29 that activism is contributing to re-imagining and reassembling the experience of being a student in the age of the neoliberal university. The sub-questions that guide this study are: • How do post-secondary economics students engage in social activism that seeks the transformation of the discipline of economics? • What pedagogical role(s) does student social activism play? • What synergies are there between the role of student and the role of social activist? 1.6 Overview This dissertation is organized to help readers contextualize and understand what it is like to be an economics student activist in the neoliberal university. Chapter 1 introduces the topic. It describes the context in which the movement takes place, introduces the portrayal of the current state of economics education and shows the importance of the struggle over the curriculum in economics departments. This chapter also briefly illustrates contextual elements that inform about the state of the contemporary neoliberal higher education system.  Chapter 2 reviews theoretical concepts regarding curriculum theory in higher education, and social movement learning scholarship that underpin and form a foundation for understanding students’ experiences in activism and in higher education. This chapter sets the theoretical framework and presents relevant research about student activism, curriculum and pedagogy in higher education. Chapter 3 underlines the methodological foundations that grounded the choice of narrative analysis as the main methodology for this research.  30  Chapter 4 explores the pedagogical potential of student activism and presents seven narrative themes that suggest many interpretations about what is like to be an economics student activist and give voice to students as they navigate the relationships between studenthood and activism. Each of the themes is written to answer a question that evokes the main analytical themes of this research and each theme adds empirical data to offer a comprehensive and coherent interpretation of students’ experiences doing curricular activism in economics.  Finally, Chapter 5 offers an analysis for results and the concluding thoughts to this research study. This section elaborates about the synergies between both experiences, activism and studenthood, and the pedagogical role of student activism as it is contributing to a reimagination and to reassemble the role of the student in the neoliberal university.  31 Chapter 2. Literature Review 2.1 The Curriculum, Critical Pedagogy and Higher Education The term curriculum has a multiplicity of meanings and there is controversy in the definition of the word curriculum and the role or purpose that the curriculum plays in education (Malewski, 2009; Schiro, 2013). The term is often related to the lesson plans and the delivery mechanisms of learning lessons in formal education. It is also related to the instructional techniques and tools used in teaching and in textbooks and other educational materials. Scholars in the field argue that the word curriculum originates from the Latin word curere (Malewski, 2009), which means running a race and it can be understood as a variety of courses of actions and experiences provided for students during their learning process.  The word curriculum can be read as an umbrella term which encompasses the various ways in which an educational process could be planned, organized, assessed and learned (Schiro, 2013; Teitelbaum, 2008). The controversy about the meaning of the curriculum and the scope of the term often regards to ideological differences regarding the nature of knowledge, pedagogy and education. In other words, ideological positions in curriculum thinking and curriculum design sustain a different set of ideas about the following questions: What knowledge, skills, and values are most worthwhile to learn and teach and why? What are the reasons why a particular knowledge, skills or values are stressed in the curriculum instead of others? And lastly, what pedagogies and strategies should be used so students can better experience and appropriate knowledge, skills and values? The ideological approach to the curriculum thinking is associated with how professors and curriculum developers understand the meaning of education (what is education?), the influence and scope education  32 has in society (what education is for?), and the kind of pedagogical strategies and educational experiences needed to move learning forward in each student.  Contemporary tendencies in curriculum development offer an idea of the challenges that higher education is facing in the context of a globalized and neoliberal world. For instance, neoliberal capitalism has also transformed the university’s curriculum in a service-oriented process and an instrument that responds to the needs of the market. Higher education institutions have incorporated criteria such as efficiency, effectiveness and competitiveness as goals of their curriculum programs through the implementation of neoliberal’s reforms (e.g. Mohammadi,2013). In this sense, curriculum design has been customised to account for the needs of economic development and the market. In addition, as it was mentioned in the first section, universities have embraced a technocratic corporate management style where the curriculum is built in alliance with corporations and the private sector.  Neoliberal reforms to education have resulted in the increase in enrollment rates, a greater teaching load, a detriment of tenure positions and an increase in the number of part-time teaching staff (Nocella & Juergensmeyer, 2017). Consequently, the implementation of neoliberal reforms is systematically diminishing the autonomy of university professors, threatening academic freedom, and defunding disciplines such as the humanities and social sciences in favor of STEM disciplines. Academic and scientific disciplines have an important role in how knowledge is transmitted and reproduced. The curriculum in higher education responds to the interaction of a complex fabric of power relations and it relays on the importance of specific disciplinary content and the development of job market skills. Disciplines seek to construct a particular  33 world view that demarks disciplinary thinking and contribute to the induction of students into a discipline, which is one of the key goals of university’s curriculum. The traditional model of teaching at the university privileges disciplines and a scholar academic approach to curriculum design that fragments knowledge into subject matters (Schiro, 2013) but goes in detriment of flexibility, autonomy and holistic view of knowledge and learning. The social efficiency model for curriculum design in higher education is another approach to design learning experiences used in post-secondary education. It responds to the skills and abilities required by the job market. For instance, learning activities are organized to incorporate a set of standards in the abilities and skills that are expected in a junior professional. The father of this ideological school of curriculum is Franklin Bobbitt (1924). Bobbitt was influenced by the principles of scientific management promoted by Fredrick Winslow Taylor (1911) and wished to use them to teach, learn and design curriculum. For social efficiency scholars, education should resolve the needs of adult professional life, so students can perform well in their job positions (Bobbitt, 1918, 1924) Higher education institutions, universities and technical education institutions design their programs oriented to respond the needs of employers (employability skills) and the competences expected to respond the employers’ demands. As Pârvu, Ipate and Miltran (2014) argue, employability has become one of the most important challenges that university management is facing nowadays. This “challenge” relates to the need to improve the employability of students and the general and professional competencies expected to be successful in their jobs. In other words, “… one of the fundamental objectives of university management is the introduction of competency-based approach in identifying and defining learning results in order to improve the employability of graduates.” (p. 237) In Australia, there is the National Register  34 of Qualifications in Higher Education that works as an accreditation agency for economics programs and contributes to work towards employability. Worldwide the OECD Survey called WISE (World Indicators of Skills for Employment) that describes the professional’s skills sufficiently for the different fields including economics. Indeed, in the debate to change economics education, the arguments regarding what is wanted by employers have found solid ground among INET (Institute for new economic thinking) and other organizations interested in promoting the CORE curriculum (INET, 2013a).  On the contrary to the models explained above, the reconstructionist approach to curriculum design puts education in a political and social context, therefore it places a different set of questions regarding the purpose of education. The curriculum, as well as knowledge, learning and teaching are considered to be political, highly contextual and ideological. Therefore, for reconstructionists, education, as well as curriculum design respond to social, political, and economic concerns that are conditioned by the needs and interests of different groups in society. Reconstructionism assemblies a variety of approaches to teaching and learning. For instance, critical pedagogy is one of the most important. Critical pedagogues have based their comprehension of education on critical or even revolutionary world views (Malott & Ford, 2015). Curricular thinking under reconstructionist lenses centers attention on the study of power, ideology and the concept of the hidden curriculum that articulate the non-explicit learning that happens in education. Scholars such as Apple (1979), Freire (1970/2005), McLaren (2015), among others, argue that the curriculum has been a source of power for those involved in the policy making in education and in the process to define who is going to be educated, what knowledge is going to be taught, why and how is going to be taught. Authors in a reconstructionist approach  35 incorporate a political and ideological turn into the conceptual and empirical approach to education and a set of many examples of how critical and radical pedagogies can emerge as alternative approaches to education.  The authors who work within the reconstructionist perspective of the curricula are aware that educational institutional need not only to evaluate and reformulate the curricula, but also offer a curriculum that invites the academic community to build relations with diverse communities and grassroots movements. For reconstructionist scholars there is a possibility to rethink their work towards inspire social and transformative action (Malott & Ford, 2015; Porfilio & Ford, 2015). In higher education reconstructionists approaches to curriculum design focus on theoretical and practical experiences that encourage dialogue between disciplines, universities and communities. In addition, critical pedagogy incites popular education and build learning experiences that respond to the need to democratize knowledge. Critical pedagogues promote learning experiences inspired by the need to rethink the conventional and fragmented vision of social, human and natural sciences, arts, or engineering, with a social justice emphasis (Giroux, 1986; Giroux & McLaren, 1989). In many cases, scholars have participated and work with communities to share knowledge and contribute to the empowerment processes that communities are building. In cases as such critical pedagogues participate and integrate efforts in networks of solidarity.  Critical pedagogues address not only curriculum design as the process of learning and knowing the world but also seek to “expose and deconstruct cultural hegemony” (Ross, 2018, p. 372). Critical pedagogy is interested in the ways in which power is manifested, exercised, and used within the context of education. For instance, critical pedagogues want to know who benefits of the status quo in curriculum design or in cases of educational reforms,  36 critical pedagogy researchers who are involved in the making of reforms, who benefits and who are getting the most profit of the reforms. Critical pedagogues are deeply rooted in Marxism and in a praxis-oriented pedagogy where knowledge should be at service of social transformation. Science and education should be oriented to enfranchise people who have been marginalized, disempowered or are living in any situation of vulnerability. Critical pedagogy is committed to social justice and the transformation of world in a more free, equal and just space for everyone. Therefore, critical pedagogues cooperate and often work together to activists’ organization that are transforming the educational space (Hill, 2012; Maisuria, 2014).  In higher education, the curriculum is grounded on the transmission of knowledge to future generations, particularly discipline-based knowledge. Universities are the doorkeepers of disciplines and curriculum design is mainly embraced as the disciplinary content needed to gain access to a profession. Nonetheless, scholars such as Barnett (2007) argue that curriculum in higher education needs to be understood as a kind of  “vehicle for effecting changes in human beings through particular kinds of encounter with knowledge” (p. 429) to the same time, if those encounters are intersected to critical analysis “with the aim of increasing human knowledge and freedom” therefore, there is in the field of critical pedagogy.  2.2 Students in the Neoliberal University Students are a topic that remain under-discussed in the higher education literature, when they are presented it is in an abstract way, as statistical numbers or abstract characters (Arsenjuk & Koerner, 2009; Hamel, Méthot, & Doré, 2011; Landau, 2014; Sabri, 2011). Literature about students as subjects focuses on how students learn best and in how do their  37 relate with traditional methods of teaching and learning (e.g. Case, Marshall, & Linder, 2010). However, scholarship on the topic does not explore comprehensively the experience of being a student situated in a pedagogical relation beyond the question about how students learn. In addition, the rise of academic capitalism, the hegemony of neoliberalism and the corporatization of the university have influenced the relationship between students, academics, and knowledge (Readings, 1996; Sheila Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004).  This section offers an exploration of the roles that students play in the neoliberal university. This role can be explained as an amalgam that resembles different roles that students have performed historically plus the roles that have been assigned to them by a neoliberal society. In the context of the pedagogical relation the roles that students adopt during their time at the university are multiple but for the most part complementary. First of all, although students should be vital to ensure that universities are attaining their pedagogical function, in most of the cases universities see students predominantly as sources of income. As Philip Altbach (2016), an American professor and researcher of student politics and activism argues:  Universities would not exist without students. Students are at the heart of the academic enterprise. It is worth remembering that some of the earliest universities, in medieval Italy, were established and managed by students. In the 21st century, in the era of massification, students are often seen as burdens, customers, or sources of income, but seldom as the key rationale for the university. (p. xi) In universities in the United Kingdom, as well as in many other universities around the world, students are expected to pay the costs of their education because it will equip them with knowledge and skills, and students will need them to perform in their prospect jobs. As  38 Della Porta, Cini and Guzman-Concha (2020) suggest “HE systems are becoming more alike in the sense of being more market-oriented, even in countries with a strong welfare tradition” (p. 26). The costs of post-secondary education are transferred from the state to the “consumer,” the student. From the neoliberal standpoint, someone interested in becoming a student needs to pay for the student status at the university since he or she probably will benefit from it. In countries such as Chile, Colombia, Canada or United States, education is expensive for people who does not come from privilege. The access to higher education requires the acquisition of certain amount of debt. As it is shown by the report on student debt in Canada made by the Canadian Federation of Students (2017):  … As upfront costs escalate, wealthier students predominate on post-secondary campuses, while marginalized students more likely to earn lower incomes – Indigenous students, students with disabilities, student parents, racialized students, queer and trans students – are increasingly left behind. In Canada, students owe collectively over $28 billion since tuition fee revenues to post-secondary institutions has continuously increase since 2001 (Vomiero, 2018). While in England the value of loans goes over £121 billion and around £17 billion is loaned to students each year (Bolton, 2019). Behind the logic of student loans is the belief and the expectation that education will facilitate credentials for students to access jobs, credentials would allow students to get a steady job as professionals and a salary. In other words, student debt largely is justified in the notion that students are expected to receive personal benefits (through wages and life-time earnings) when they become university graduates (Christie & Munro, 2003).   39 The university, from a market-based approach, is understood as the provider of educational services and students are seen as customers of the university, however they are also seen as future inputs in the production process and outcomes of the postsecondary education. In other words, they are seen as human capital. Students are formed in the university hoping that they will become human capital to insert to the industries. Inside the neoliberal university, providing learning opportunities to students and transferring the content are task assigned to the academic labor. As result of the lack of public funding, professors juggle their time between delivering the curriculum, engaging in teaching and research and finding sources of funding for their research agendas (Izak, Kostera, & Zawadzki, 2017; Lewis, 2013; Nocella & Juergensmeyer, 2017; Saunders, 2010). Sadly, while the number of academic personnel in universities remains static, administrative personnel at the institutions grows in numbers. For example, in United States between 1975 and 2008, the number of faculty jobs grew about 10% while the number of administrators grew around 221% (Spicer, 2017). In addition, tenured positions are being replaced by low-paid adjunct faculty and graduate students are taking care of a significant amount of teaching for undergraduate students (Nocella & Juergensmeyer, 2017). The administrative workforce centers their attention to prioritized revenue generation (Sheila Slaughter & Rhoades, 2004). University departments have the pressure to become economically viable, so faculty are put in the position to seek and absorb grant funding and corporate sponsorship to keep the departments financially afloat. Universities are increasingly forced to depend on tuition payments while students are supposed to act as customers and shop around for the institution that fits better to their educational interests and budgetary restrictions.   40 Furthermore, neoliberal capitalism has co-opted the logic of teaching and learning to serve the logics of the economic system (Aronowitz, 2000; Hill, 2003; Masschelein & Simons, 2015; Petrina, Mathison, & Ross, 2015; Saunders, 2014; Simons & Masschelein, 2008, 2009). For example, suitable teaching and learning methods are measured through ranking according how functional they are to the private enterprise and the market. In this sense universities, science and research are co-opted to serve capital, economic growth and capitalists’ interests. Universities and academics are kept controlled by government and private funding agencies and by companies’ agendas which jeopardizes their capacity to critically examine knowledge and the world. As Buroway (1979) stated: “[o]ne cannot both play the game and at the same time question the rules.” (Buroway, 1979 cited by Margolis, 2002, p. 98).  Advocates of the expansion of neoliberalism and supporters of notion that students are customers argue that a consumer’s voice gives students power since they are expected to be treated as clients able to purchase the kind of goods or services that they want (George, 2007; Saunders, 2011). Both, faculty and administrators are held accountable by students. Students supposedly have the ability to use the tools given by the market economy to punish their service providers when the educational experience is not what they expected, or it did not suffice their needs. To illustrate this point is the popularity of students’ satisfaction indexes, such as the National Student Survey (NSS) in the United Kingdom, that presents information to future students regarding what other students like and what is there to improve so fellow students and policy makers take decisions (National Student Survey, 2020). Student rankings give information to prospective and current students about where and what  41 to study. Then, rankings about student satisfaction make available information that help people choose a school and university.  Scholars in favour of this consumer like approach in the relation between students and universities argue that a consumer voice echoes a liberal humanist discourse (Vuori, 2013) and it does not treat students as if they were obedient and docile subjects like in the transmission banking model of education (Arsenjuk & Koerner, 2009; Molesworth et al., 2010; Saunders, 2014). However, the reality for most of the student population is that the financial prospects have become a burden, so they are urged to obtain the credentials, graduate and find a job. As the government funding for universities declines, tuition and fees are getting higher resulting in a burst of student loans and the burden of debt (Blacker, 2013; Hartlep & Eckrich, 2013; Shafer, 2015).  For many students, the neoliberal university is a debt trap because the longer students remain engaged in the university the bigger is the acquired debt. Therefore, students have financial constraints that do not allow them to take the time to actually study; they do not have the opportunity to suspend time and knowledge and to pursue an intellectual absorption and engagement with knowledge, research and study (Malott & Ford, 2015). As Chomsky (2011) puts it, “students who acquire large debts putting themselves through school are unlikely to think about changing society. When you trap people in a system of debt, they can’t afford the time to think.” (para. 5). In addition, many undergraduates once graduated find themselves unemployable or eligible only for low-paying jobs, which puts students in the middle of a market-based competition for jobs in a precarious globalized economy (Izak et al., 2017).   42 For critical scholars, the conceptualization of students as customer does not bring the autonomy and freedom into the pedagogical relation that many of their advocates suggest. For example, Saunders (2014) and Malott and Ford (2015) argue that a neoliberal consumerist approach to studentship sees students as passive subjects with a limiting scholarly agency. For instance, hierarchies in academia continue to be in place, large lectures preserve the logic of prescribed knowledge, where students passively imbibe and memorize knowledge to recite it in midterms and final exams. Similarly, learning objectives, learning outcomes and curriculum assessment methods are not designed according to the preferences, needs or expectations of the student. Students have a very little say in what knowledge is “of the most worth” in terms of the official curriculum. The syllabus is fixed by the university and is based on the agreements and dispositions of a select group of academics and professional associations. For instance, members of academic and professional communities (not only associations of scholars, but academic journals, publishers, and other academic and professional related organizations) within disciplines have the authority to define what knowledge is of the most worth. As Grant (1997) and Osborne (2015) suggest, academic and professional communities see themselves as gatekeepers and representatives of the disciplines, then they seek to regulate the production, reproduction and socialization of knowledge.  Scholars from a critical tradition argue that knowledge gets defined by those who have control over the means of production and over the cultural capital in society (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979). This argument is also based on the relationship that knowledge has with power. As Foucault (1972/1980) writes “the exercise of power perpetually creates knowledge, and, conversely, knowledge constantly induces effects of power…it is not  43 possible for power to be exercised without knowledge, it is impossible for knowledge not to engender power” (p. 52). Therefore, the intention to build alternative, emancipatory knowledge and learning practices to the ones legitimized by privileged social groups needs to pay attention to for authors from critical and radical standpoints. Pedagogues such as Paulo Freire who have worked hand by hand with grassroots movements and enriched the understanding of empowering learning and critical pedagogy in relation to education and marginalized communities. Freire argues in Pedagogy of the Oppressed, that it is not surprising that those in control of the society do not provide emancipatory pedagogies or empowering knowledge. Both would involve a challenge for the perpetuation of the institutions of power controlling over the society. In other words, students should not expect institutions that perpetuate the status quo will freely advocate for liberating knowledge or empowering pedagogies. For Freire (1970/2005) the establishment has no reason to provide a type of knowledge that potentially undermines their ability to exercise power. Similarly, from an anarchist perspective, educators such as Ron Miller (2002) considers that societies, concerned primarily with imposing a uniform view of reality on its population, choose educational methods that aim only to transmit “knowledge as this has been defined by tradition and by those with the most cultural influence.” (Miller, 2002, p. 145)  The contemporary neoliberal conceptualization of students as customers also reinforces the idea that being a student is a temporal stage in someone’s life, and it serves mostly as preparatory phase for the future. Learners are presented as if they were stuck in previous artificial stages to real life from where they cannot help to build a better society neither transform it. Students are treated as an immature input in an industrial capitalist learning process where the outcomes are constructed as one of the more socially relevant  44 elements of learning, together with the final end: grades, diplomas and credentials. The authenticity of learning has been lost in the quest for efficiency and social mobility. As Ross (2017) states,  Education is not a commodity that can be bought or sold. However, the conditions of late capitalism have led to a widespread decline of authentic educative experiences to the point that the recent history of education (or at least schooling) can now be understood as the decline from being into having, and having into merely appearing to have an education. (p. 175) A consumer voice intensifies the mechanisms of neoliberal capitalism. In addition, it only gives a false sense of empowerment to students because it frames education as an exchange of money and time for a degree. In other words, the customer logic emphasizes the end: grades and credentials over the process: studying and understanding. In this way, As Ross suggests in the quote above, students are been conveyed by the higher education system that suggests that appearing to have higher achievement is more valuable than learning, and therefore students prefer higher grades over intellectual challenges, deeper studying and a comprehensive understanding of reality (Ross, 2017).  Lastly, although a consumer voice implies a passive agency, at the end, in a neoliberal globalized economy I has value. The needs of the market are the elements that determine what kind of education is considered successful and meaningful. Students graduate and enter in a global neoliberal capitalist economy that represents a challenge for them if they do not have the flexibility, skills and abilities to perform as satisfactory as private companies required them to do. However, in the precarious global market economy companies constantly move their operations where labour costs are cheap, then, as Malewski  45 (2010) puts it, “students will have to be flexible, creative, self-sustaining, and willing to change careers on the ‘turn of a dime’ or face unemployment.” (p. 13). In other words, students are hoped to be able to adapt to a set of very changeable work environments, and to be able to be flexible enough to quickly cope with unpredictability, as Barnett (2009) puts it: … This student is replete with ‘transferable skills’, contemplates with equanimity the prospect of multiple careers in the lifespan, is entrepreneurial and has an eye to the main chance, and possesses a breezy self-confidence in facing the unpredictability that characterizes contemporary life. Such a shift heralds a transformation not only in what we take a student (and a graduate) to be but also in what students have actually become. (p. 430)  Besides the role of a customer endorsed by a neoliberal education system, students play the role of pupils or apprentices in the traditional hierarchical scholastic environments. To locate students in the pedagogical relation, the word educands is helpful because it reflects the direction in the relationship: the students as those who are been educated. Therefore, students are located at the receiving end of the pedagogical relation. Hence, students are the subject situated in the position where they learn from and are taught by experts and intellectuals (academic labour) who have the knowledge, experience, and credentials to be located at the giving side of the relationship (Biesta, 2005, 2013). Students are considered to be people in a stage of “being free and becoming” (Manja Klemenčič, 2015). They have to fit into the rules and traditions socially constructed in their educational institutions. Bourdieu and Nice (1977) note that society condemns students to occupy a passive role during the period of apprenticeship, as if there were no other alternatives to delivering the curriculum in higher education institutions than a passive  46 digestion of knowledge. For instance, “the good student” is a narrative, a story that relies on judgements and disciplinary values about the behaviors, skills and knowledge that apprentices must have or adopt in their way of becoming professionals, fully adults and skilled in a specific discipline of knowledge.  In summary, the roles students are assigned in contemporary neoliberal education are fairly straightforward and complementary, they are human capital and passive consumers. However, students historically have resisted these roles. They have organized themselves collectively against different forms of oppression, violence and authoritarianism (e.g., Berkley movement in the 1960s, Chilean movement during the 2010, UK movement in the 2010). Nonetheless their role in the pedagogical relation keeps being understood as passive and receiving. The aims of the university in a late neoliberal capitalist society seem to fade into a deeper crisis and the educational experiences in formal education are biased by the market economy. The contemporary conceptualization of a student is largely a mixture between the imaginaries of customers, apprentices and human capital. The student experience within the neoliberal university is crossed by historical conditions, specific struggles of their neoliberal age (students are historical subjects) and by social and personal relations (i.e., family, generational, educational, political relations). These elements constitute the fields through which students establish relationships with the university, disciplines, professors, classmates, and their own learning, etc. However, the role of students is a dialectical construction. It is understandable in relation to the existence of the other fields, roles or social constructions of identities.   47 2.2.1 Students in Critical and Radical Traditions  In critical and radical traditions there have been many attempts to rethink and transform the role of the student in the pedagogical relation, particularly a role that takes into account agency and activism. In North American educational philosophy during the 1930’s, intellectuals and theorists such as George S. Counts (1932) started to instigate change in the field of education by bringing issues of power and pedagogical authority into the questions of curriculum design and theory. Marxism and critical theory contribute to the groundwork for the development of critical pedagogy and the advancement in the analysis of the role that education has in the reproduction of ideology (e.g., Willis, 2000). Critical pedagogy encompasses a wide range of pedagogical practices, but one of the central contributions to the field of education has been the study of the relations between pedagogy and politics (Apple, 1979; Giroux, 1989; Porfilio & Ford, 2015; Ross, 2018; Shor, 1992).  In one of the critical pedagogy’s seminal works, Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Freire (1970/2005) explores how relationships between oppressors and oppressed are reproduced within teacher and student relations. Freire (1970/2005) conceptualizes the banking theory of education, as a pedagogical model in which an authority figure or expert deposits knowledge in the minds of pupils or students who ought to passively receive it. The curricular content, objectives, and assessment concern only the educator and students have a submissive and docile role. Instead of perpetuating a banking model of education, Freire proposes a dialogical approach to education where academic labour works with students in an “organized, systematized and developed ‘re-presentation’ (…) of the things about which they want to know” (p. 93). In the critical pedagogy tradition, students are considered to be cognitive subjects, whereby students are “individuals with their own minds, experiences and  48 dignity, and they must be able to take an active role in their own process of liberation in cooperation with critical teachers” (Haworth, 2012, p. 23).  Among scholars in the critical pedagogy tradition, there is an imperative to work towards empowering students, and raising a collective awareness and consciousness aiming to achieve social transformation (McLaren, 2015). Critical pedagogy questions power relationships and pursues, for the most part, a social, economic and cultural revolution. These relations include classroom teaching and learning, the hierarchical structure of the school, and the social relations with the community. The process by which students critically reflect on the world and take transformative action is an essential part of the praxis in critical pedagogy (Au, 2017). In other words, critical pedagogy is concerned with the need to reconstruct the purpose of the educational institutions such as universities and reinvent the relationship between students and progressive teaching.  From the perspective of critical pedagogy, the role of the university is to help students to understand and transform oppressive relations. The university, academics and students, therefore, have the responsibility to be part of the emancipatory discourse (Giroux, 2017). However, although students have an active and inclusive role in critical pedagogy, there is not an automatic non-hierarchical relation between experts and students. The possible tensions in the vision between students and critical pedagogues have been problematized by feminist authors such as Ellsworth (1989). She considers critical pedagogy to be to overly abstract, utopian and deterministic. She also evidences that power struggles between teacher and students still remain unanswered. As Ellsworth (1989) puts it, in critical pedagogy “a relation between teacher/student becomes voyeuristic when the voice of the pedagogue himself goes unexamined” (p. 312). Nonetheless, largely in the context of  49 movements in the streets, activists and organizations, for sure there is a recognition of the many complexities involved in doing praxis oriented intellectual work but also there is an imminent need to build up relevant class based transformative social action. The humanization of the educative process needs a pedagogical approach that has in its core an authentic effort to build horizontal relations between students and experts (Hill, McLaren, Cole, & Rikowski, 2002). There are also examples illustrating why in many cases critical pedagogues have been able to break through abstract or unexamined ideals and orientate their work towards a caring relation of empowerment and transformation, creating truly collaborative efforts with communities, social organizations and movements (Porfilio & Ford, 2015). An intellectual and a critical educator cannot limit his or her work to the schools, the connection in social and community work is necessary to comprehend and ethically engage in social transformation (Hill et al., 2002).  Bowers and Apffel-Marglin (2005) and Ross (2015, 2017) suggest that there is a need to transform an approach to critical pedagogy that has been co-opted by the logics of capitalism and misunderstood in different ways. In some cases, the pedagogical relationships suggested by researchers and educators who take to critical pedagogy as a mere method and not as a complete pedagogical praxis, remain hierarchical and critical educators could be presenting themselves as a sort of messiahs. For example, the authors argue that in some approaches to critical pedagogy students are shown as largely ignorant of their own oppression, unable to free themselves and in need for critical educators to guide them and become their intellectual and vanguard leaders. In those cases, students are presented as ones who were not yet completely aware or do not entirely know by their own how power and societal roles and privileges are sustained by dominant classes in society. Of course, in  50 critical pedagogy as in any other theory that seeks to critical transform reality, there is a need to constantly revise and reflect upon one’s personal assumptions and the ways in which relationships between students, communities and educators are built. This transformation is what Ross (2015, 2017) calls humanizing critical pedagogy, it means creating a balance between abstraction and authenticity. In other words, a transformation and constant dialectical thinking and reflection about how ethical the interactions between theory and praxis are, between educators and students and between knowledge and citizens.  Politically speaking, students continue to play a role in policy making since they are able to unite into strong resistance movements like the Quebec movement or the Chilean movement, both in 2001. In the resistance, it is possible to find a connection between the act of study as it described by Lewis (2013) and Ford (2016), as an alternative logic to learning in capitalism, and the student subject. This is because student resistance and student occupations to campuses in general are reconnecting students to the act of study instead of forcing them into the logics of learn seeking a credential, better grades or a deterministic outcome. As Backer and Lewis put it, “(t)o struggle to study is to struggle to regain the freedom of im-potentiality as a capability to be and not to be any one kind of subject. It is to reject the fundamental logic of learning, opening up the psyche to indeterminateness and thus freedom to be indifferent to learning and its outcomes.” (Backer & Lewis, 2015, p. 341).  In the spaces of resistance is where students can find time and space to “steal” time from the university and find the possibility to study. To study while disrupt the university, is to allow students to have the time and space to engage with knowledge and pursue deeper intellectual commitments. Learning is subjected to grading, grading to ranking and credentials, and credentials to improve someone’s economic viability in the job market  51 (Biesta, 2005). Studying, on the other hand, emerges from curiosity, from having the time to thing and care about different issues and the world (Ford, 2016). In the protests, students while remaining part of formal education, they separate themselves from the logics of due dates, workload and grading that are part of the neoliberal university and the accountability of learning outcomes to study, breath, read, care, ask relevant questions about their own commitments, political beliefs; in other words, who they are and what values do they hold as students, citizens and persons.  2.3 Student Movements  In the academic literature, research on student movements can be found either in empirical studies analyzing specific aspects of youth discourses, material culture, and politics (e.g. Cammaerts, 2013; Rheingans & Hollands, 2013) or historical accounts of specific movements, such as the Free Speech Movement in Berkley during the 1960s or more recent movements in 2001 in Chile, Canada or the UK (Bégin-Caouette & Jones, 2014; Guzman-Concha, 2012; Ibrahim, 2011). The research found in the literature largely focuses on particular geographic locations, movements, organizations or historical periods. For instance, many examples of student movement research are historical accounts of specific periods of higher student political activity, like the 1960s or the 1990s. (e.g. Altbach, 1989; Boren, 2001; Lipset & Altbach, 1969; Spector, 2013). Likewise, the academic literature has many historical studies of specific events, student organizations or movements around the world (e.g. Bégin-Caouette & Jones, 2014; Bellei, Cabalin, & Orellana, 2014; DeGroot, 1998; Esler, 1973; Ibrahim, 2011; Landau, 2014).  Gill and DeFronzo (2009), Van Dyke (1998) argue that there is not much academic literature that has attempted to theorize student political and social activism as a whole. A  52 large percentage of the research on the topic attempts to explain the factors or circumstances that enable student political activism, a topic that continues to be highly debated and contested. Crossley (2008) argues that student political and social action benefits from the existence of campus-based networks that maintain continuous presence and keeps active political work on campus. For example, political parties have chapters on campuses (an example can be found in the existence of organizations affiliated to communist youth organizations, or liberal youth organizations in campuses all across Canada), and the use campus political and democratic spaces to politically train their members. Another approach to the origin of activism on campus is based on generational arguments. Scholars who consider students movements to be a response to a conflict or a gap between generations. Then, student movements are the result of dissimilarities among young and adults who do not find agreements between how society, education and politics should be and how should communities address contemporary social tensions (Feuer, 1969; Olcese, Saunders, & Tzavidis, 2014). Likewise, scholars during the 1960s, argued that student activism was a consequence of behavioral, developmental and psychological reasons (Flacks, 1970). For example, a common arguments during the 1960s were that students movements were expected to appear in societies where traditional authority (political and parental) was disintegrating under the impact of industrialization and modernization, or that students movements were symptoms of cultural disintegration and students fraternal identification with the masses plus a disdain for privilege and authority (Flacks, 1970). However, these type or arguments and behavioral approaches have been highly criticized by scholars in the field of social movements since they fail to represent the social value of activism and students’ political work, also misrepresent youth movements as consequence of disdain for  53 privilege and authority, and limit the understanding and potential of student mobilizations (Crossley, 2008). Furthermore, beyond academic scholarship, another source to understand student experience is through narratives, poems, and different forms of art that have been central pieces to reflect upon student activism from the side of the students. Particularly because art and narratives help to represent how students interpret and make sense of their own experiences. Literary tales have a long tradition in student activism. For example, since medieval times students have documented their own experiences of activism by writing booklets, autobiographies, weblogs, and poetry that can be traced back to the Goliardic poetry in medieval Europe. Likewise, student activists have narrated their experiences in novels and fictional tales where they document their perspectives about studenthood and student activism in storied form. Examples of some of the work written by students, activists and militants narrating their experiences as part of their participation in student movements could be found in novels like: How the Steel Was Tempered by Nikolai Ostrovsky (1973), Amor Propio by Gonzalo Celorio (1992), Al calor del tropel by Carlos Medina Gallego (1992), Al sur de la alameda by Lola Larra (2014), among many other literary works of the similar nature. Similarly, documentaries and films about student activism like El Grito, directed by Leobardo López Aretche (1968), La Noche de los lápices directed by Héctor Olivera (1986), among others represent the experiences of students portrayed by students in literary and filmed work.  In Latin America the experience to be a student activist is influenced by the Movimiento de la Reforma or “reform movement” that happened in 1918. During 1918, in the Latin America there was the imaginary that student experience in higher education was a  54 joyful, idealist and romantic experience because for them studenthood was deeply involved in the transformation of society. The Movimiento de la Reforma was particularly important in Latin America because it implied a general modernization of the universities in the continent. Students started organizing in the city of Córdoba7, Argentina and quickly the movement spread to the rest of Latin America consolidating strong networks of collaboration that are still active until today. The Cordova movement especially contributed towards democratization, autonomy and co-governance model in the universities all across the continent (Tcach, 2018). Student gained academic freedom and have an important role in how curriculum is designed and implemented. During the time, students were part of a select elite in the position to seek social transformation given value of the relationship between disciplinary knowledge and youth interests and politics. Latin-American students had in mind a “reconstructionists” approach to the university and to the higher education curriculum. The movement emphasized the need that universities had to develop bonds with the proletariat and actively contribute to the solution of economic, social and political problems in their local contexts.  Today students’ organizations on the continent have the movement in Cordova as a common historical referent of transnational unionism. In South America, student activist identity is characterized by an anti-dictatorial and anti-authoritarian politics inspired in the Reforma Movement. Students have developed a close relation between different movements and organizations in the political left. Many of the transnational student organizations in the region such as the Organización Continental Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Estudiantes (OCLAE) maintain the principles of the Reforma movement and promote translational  7 Student collectives and scholars refer to this movement sometime as the Cordova’s Movement.   55 solidarity among students in their struggles in defense of academic freedom, university autonomy, co-government and free public education. In addition, transnational movements in the region also promote union and solidarity in the struggles against fascism, imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, social injustice and the neoliberal attract to the university.  During the past years, the marketization of higher education and neoliberal policies towards the massification higher education has presented new challenges to students’ organizers who have resisted and organized powerful and massive demonstrations against the privatization of higher education around the world, one of the more salient example is the Chilean movement of 2001 that inspired youth across the world and the rise of student activism in the continent (Bellei et al., 2014; Guzman-Concha, 2012; Simbuerger & Neary, 2014). The marketization of education, as well as the rising in the numbers of students in universities have influenced a growth in the student population. Then, there is even more diverse and heterogenous since people from all the political and social spectrum is accessing higher education. An increment in the diversity and heterogeneity of the student body and the burden of student debt have made more difficult to consolidate massive and long-lasting movements for student organizers (Prusinowska, Kowzan, & Zielińska, 2012). Despite all the context and difficulties to organize and find unity that contemporary student movements experience, students continue to be a strong political voice in education and continue to be well positioned as political actors. 2.4 Student Movements and Activism Student activism has actively influenced different aspects of student life and education since the beginnings of the university where students took action in order to reduce the price of living in the areas closed to Bologna University (Boren, 2001), indeed more  56 broadly, students have played a significant role in defining social, cultural and political environments around the world, from the Cuban revolution in the 1960s to more recent movements such as the 2014 Umbrella Revolution in Hong Kong (Altbach, 1966; Boren, 2001). Historically political and social movements have established alliances with student organizations on campuses to recruit new members, mobilize their agendas in education and foster student’s involvement in politics. In the case of political parties, for example, many have created their own chapters on campuses to workout alliances and also encourage youth involvement in politics (Altbach, 1966; Lipset, 1969). However, throughout history student movements have been related to a broad spectrum of political interests, and they have had a diverse and sometimes contradictory range of political commitments. In various moments across history students have joined or been linked to rightist movements, reactionary organizations and conservative parties, for example the student involvement in the pro-life movement in the United States (Altbach, 1966; Barker, 2008). Likewise, students have played important roles as leaders and members of political and social movements in the political left (e.g. students’ role in the Movimiento 26 de Julio - M-26-7 in Cuba during the 1950s and in the formation of The New Left in the United States, among others). As Delgado and Ross (2016) present, there are many examples that illustrate the connection between political parties and student movement. In Colombia, the Communist Party created La Juventud Comunista Colombiana (JUCO), which gathers together several youth and student organizations. Another example is the relation between the Communist Party in Chile and the youth sections of the FECH and FEUSACH in 2010 (Della porta et al, 2020) . Similarly, another example is the creation by liberal parties of the International Federation of Liberal Youth (IFLRY) that gathers different youth and student groups affiliated to liberal parties  57 across the world. Most of them have chapters in university campuses and postsecondary schools, for example at the University of British Columbia the filial chapter is UBC Young Liberals of Canada. In terms of political activity, youth activism and more specifically student activism is often considered to be “catalysts” of political and social action or “barometers” of the social unrest and political tension accumulated in society. In the contexts of institutions, the relation between students and administrative representatives has been mediated by the in loco parentis paradigm. For instance, Boren (2001) describes how across time the institutional power inside the universities jointly with government officials have understood student organized resistance as a disruptive force of lazy youth that needed parenting and disciplining. An example can be found in how British student activists were treated by university administrators during the anti-apartheid protest in 1960s, when students were suspended for organizing reading groups. The university administration responded by sending the police and suspending more than 50 students (Hoefferle, 2012). Cini (2019) argues that student movements have succeeded in influencing the political agenda of the British government and often have gained the attention and support of the media and the public opinion. They have slowed downs the implementation of the neoliberal agenda on England, however they have not been able to permanently stop the neoliberal reforms to their education. Similarly, students have not been able to produce permanent change at the university level. Cini notes that “at the university level, the massive proliferation of creative and unexpected student occupations forced the academic managers, at least initially, to seriously pay attention and be concerned with the issue raised by the students” (p. 158).  58 However, once again students have been ineffective to produce permanent change at the institutional level.  Another characteristic of student activism is the divergence in the points of view. This characteristic emerges due to fact that students are an heterogenous social group who is characterized to be widely diverse and particularly pluralists in their values, interests and commitments (Boren, 2001). This characteristic aspect of the student population has been a constant challenge for maintaining unity in student movements, which has been particularly problematic in cases of national, international or transnational student organizations given the diversity of political commitments and ideological approaches to social change and education (Prusinowska et al., 2012; Somma, 2012). This characteristic is commonly discussed in student assemblies and often mediates the progress and capacity to be coherent and cohesive in student activism.  Student political activity has been studied by scholars in social movements (e.g. Polletta, 2002), youth activism (e.g. Rheingans & Hollands, 2013), sociology (e.g. Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979) and history (e.g. Boren, 2001). Student activist organizations have an internal arrangement that adapts to the context, needs and historical circumstances in which movements originate. The structures of movements vary from traditionally hierarchical structures, organizational schemes based on representative democracy with charismatic leadership like the Federacion de Estudiantes Universitarios in Colombia, or Chile or the Students for a Democratic Society in the United States during the 1960s, to horizontal forms of decision-making which was present in many of the most recent occupations in the UK, particularly during the 2010 campuses occupations (Rheingans & Hollands, 2013). Student mobilizations have the same components of any other form of social action, they have  59 standing claims, need to mobilize resources, they also emerge from political opportunities and organize themselves by using different type of actions, tactics or repertoires of contention8. And lastly, student movements also advocate for political, social or/and educational agendas, programs or pleas like any other form of social mobilization.  Indeed, collectively speaking, the aspect that unites students is associated with the pedagogical relations. That is all students share in the transitory social condition of studenthood. They all are part of an education institution and were located at the receiving end of the pedagogical relationship. In broad terms, students can be understood as the subjects of institutionalized pedagogy. In today’s neoliberal university, educational institutions view students as the group of people who are enrolled in a program of study and paying tuition fees. In other words, students are a social group who have a common function in society or social objective, which is “to study” something and through different means are able to pay educational institutions for being enrolled as students (Lewis, 2013; Simons & Masschelein, 2009)  As many other forms of social action, student movements haver a formative and transformative potential. Sotiris (2014) argues that student social action has the potential to breakdown the traditional hierarchical structures in the academy and create spaces of encounter and dialogue. The occupation of campuses is an example of how rules in higher education break during a protest to allow a more horizontal dialogue between students and professors. Teach-ins and sit-ins as alternative spaces created at the margins of formal education, are also another example of how the university rules blend to allow new spaces of  8 In the literature tactics and repertoires of contention can be understood as synonyms and sometimes are used interchangeably. However, to explore the theoretical distinctions and the evolution of the terms see Taylor and Van Dyke (2004).  60 encounter. In many cases, such spaces work as possibilities to build new ways to relate pedagogically with knowledge and with other students and educators. For both, students and educators, free spaces gained during a protest can be seen as opportunities to stop following the logics of neoliberalism, stop neoliberal learning to get credentials or just to achieve an institutional goal. Students can join educators and together build in an effort to explore different ways to exercise radical and critical pedagogy by opening up the university to communities outside academia, facilitating skills and tools to better understand and transform social and economic phenomena and by contributing to critically analyze the systemic problematics that affect everyone.  In addition, just by sharing collectively in the streets and taking their demands outside classrooms, students make social action matter to the public, they open up the scope of universities, just by demonstrating the potential of social action in the transformation of the world. In a neoliberal context, when often social action is dismissing for being ineffective, students show the capacity to actually transform and contribute evidence that social organization can have transcendence in the making of policy, undoing reforms or moving changes forward.  2.5 Students and Academic Freedom  Over time, university faculty members have struggled to maintain their academic freedom. The American Association of University Professors’ (AAUP) in 1915 wrote the Declaration of Principles on Academic Freedom and Academic Tenure. In this document three major elements of academic freedom are identified: the freedom of inquiry and research, the freedom of teaching within the institution and the freedom of extramural utterance and action (Petrina, 2010).  61 Although academic freedom is a right constantly jeopardized by the establishment, students’ academic freedom is a right that stops at the university entrance (Petrina, 2010). Academic freedom as a right for students is negotiated as part of complexities of power relations of power and forms of domination that exist within university and that are also present in the pedagogical relations. However, as Petrina (2010) notes, traditionally from the Humboldtian roots of higher education, scholars maintained that institutional autonomy would require Lehrfreiheit – the freedom to teach – and Lernfreiheit – the freedom to learn – both elements are equally essential for an open-minded intellectual academic community (Petrina, 2010).  Students in universities exercise their freedom and they often become a challenge to the status quo. Students have organized collective action to demand their right to academic freedom, which has been and continues to be a source of conflict and tension. For example, students’ manuscripts, publications and pamphlets during the uprisings in the 1960s in the United States show that one of the topics students discussed the most was their right to enjoy academic freedom and intellectual self-determination. The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) as well as the Free Speech Movement in Berkey addressed both in multiple papers, documents, pamphlets and speeches the importance of academic freedom for the student. Many examples can be found in the archives of both movements online9.  Regarding student academic freedom, the Joint Statement on Rights and Freedoms of Students endorsed by 10 higher education associations and adopted by the AAUP in 1967  9 SDS Archive: , Free Speech Movement Archive: and  62 ratify the idea that students should be seen as partners in academic inquiry. In the preamble the statement says,  Academic institutions exist for the transmission of knowledge, the pursuit of truth, the of students, and the general well-being of society. Free inquiry and free expression are indispensable to the attainment of these goals. As members of the academic community, students should be encouraged to develop the capacity for critical judgment and to engage in a sustained and independent search for truth. (AAUP, 1968, p. 258) In the statement, the nature of academic life operates as the context to extent academic freedom to students. Similarly, the majority of literature about student academic freedom presents the topic as if it were a direct consequence of professoriate freedom, and the scholarly work (Macfarlane, 2012). The need to guarantee freedom to inquire, research, and teach impulses the freedom to learn. Universities need freedom because academic freedom allows researchers, professors and academics to critically create knowledge, discussions, open debates and develop abilities and skills without economic, political or institutional pressures. For students, curricular content and research agendas are mediated through the freedom of the professors to guide and determine the pedagogical activities and responsibilities requested to the student during their time in the university.  Questions of academic freedom for students are directly related with the status of students in academia and a in loco-parentis paradigm. Students are not considered prepared enough for self-determination of their intellectual interests or make informed judgements about academic research (Horn, 1999). Today students’ organized resistance continues to struggle to extend the right of academic freedom to student. Many movements in the history  63 of student activism have address the issue of the academic freedom for students, from movements as the Cordova Movement in South America, the Free Speech Movement in Berkeley, or Zengakuren in Japan. More recent examples of student activism, for instance in economics education, seeks to extent academic freedom to students, freedom to learn and an active role for students to decide on the content of their university curricula.  2.6 Activism and Pedagogy What is a Social Movement? It goes on one at a time  It starts when you care To act, it starts when you do it again after They said no It starts when you say we and know what You mean, and each Day you mean one more  Marge Piercy, The Low Road, quoted in Hall (2006)  Learning in social movements has been theorize as a powerful form of learning by scholars from the adult education tradition and from social movements scholars. Movements start because people care, and when people care they often learn and engage in intellectual projects (Hall, Clover, Crowther, & Scandrett, 2012). As Eyerman and Jamison (1991) argue, movements have a cognitive praxis and they have a role in consciousness raising. Cognition and awareness are both forms of knowledge that are present in collective action. The authors see the production and transmission of different forms of knowledge and consciousness: theories, worldviews, ideologies, religions, as articulations of movements’ agenda and their intellectual projects.  The authors coined the term “cognitive praxis” precisely to characterize the relationship between knowledge, identity and activism. Their idea is that movements, in  64 particular they studied the environmental movement, combine three different knowledge interests: cosmological knowledge, technological knowledge and organizational knowledge. Cosmological knowledge refers to the world view assumptions that people in a movement create and share. Movements transform ideas about the world (from science, philosophy, politics) in beliefs systems. Technological knowledge indicates to the criteria for technical change. Movements experiment new ways to live, to know, and to relate to each other’s. In this way, movements develop techniques to integrate to their cosmological framework and match their belief systems. Lastly, organizational knowledge is related to the all the knowledge that provides counternarratives to dominant discourses and organizational skills to develop the movement further (Eyerman & Jamison, 1991) This framework integrates scholarship on social movements and critical adult education, to develop a framework to examine learning in social action (Foley, 1999; Hall and Clover, 2005; Welton, 1993; Eyerman and Jamison, 1991). They draw from the work and experiences of popular educators and activists like Paulo Freire and Myles Horton, who worked developing alternative pedagogies to transform education and society. Both educators created bottom up approaches to popular education, working hand by hand with rural and marginalized communities. Reasons why Freire and Horton have been considered pioneers in popular education. Seeking to summarize the literature on social learning, the following list reflects different kinds of learning happening in social action. The list has two categories that refer to the location of people who learn: internal learning for people that are participants in the movement and external for spectators and outsiders. • For internal learning (activists in the movement):   65 o Learning of tactics and strategies, appropriation of organizational and technological knowledge.  o Learning of counter narratives, appropriation of a worldview.  o Incidental learning, unexpected appropriation of the three types of knowledge. o Unlearning of dominant and oppressive ideologies and discourses.  • For external learning (people outside of the activists’ group that learns due to the movement existence): o Learning because of the movement existence, either about concerns, issues, policies or any other sort of agenda that movement participants mobilize.  o Learning because of the dissemination of counter narratives   People inside (participants) and outside the movement, who are interested in what is happening around an issue that the movement is addressing (spectators), are experiencing changes of perspective because of the movement. Social movement learning is a powerful tool in a schooled society where movements are needed to disrupt normalcy and carry on social transformations (Foley, 1999). Foley (1999) says that “Some of the most powerful learning occurs as people struggle against oppression” (p. 1). Care about an issue is the component that invites people to challenge the status quo and participate in social action. This care is precisely a reason to feel motivated to learn and have curiosity. The space and time to engage in a better understanding of an issue is given by the disruptive action that movements carry, they open up the space for a counternarrative, for questioning and for curiosity. Movements in this way, open up spaces to study and learn about issues and  66 concerns. This formative and educative component of social action and the power it has to promote agency is one of the main questions to research in social movement learning scholarship (Chovanec, Chubb, Mcclean, & Piquette, 2004).  One of the points in which the literature in social movements often falls short is the analysis of youth and adolescent activism. Most of the research has been directed on adults and in the field of adult education where there is a more elaborated relation between informal and incidental learning, and in very few cases there is an opportunity to explore how formal education enters in the relation between learning and social action. However, largely there is not much research in the field trying to explore the specificities, either similarities or differences between learning in student movements, learning in other kinds of youth activism and activism during adulthood. One of the differences is the role that formal education has in repressing social action and disciplining youth. One of the reasons why there is a limited number of studies about learning and student activism may be the sporadic manifestations of student activism, and the difficulties to establish long lasting relations of trust between scholars and activists given the short life span of student action and studenthood more broadly. Ethical research in social action requires time, care and the existence of well-established structures in movements and social organizations, in the case of students it is not always feasible to find such level of organization after a demonstration.  Critical and radical pedagogies can contribute to understand the role that education plays in how students freely develop their activism or how education may or may not encourage or repress social action. From critical and radical pedagogy scholarship there is a rich body of literature in understanding the potential of freedom in learning. For instance, one renowned author in radical pedagogy and who is also an important contributor to  67 deschooling literature, John Holt argues that knowledge is only authentic, relevant and meaningful when it is acquired in response to one’s own interest (Holt, 1972, 2004). Therefore, for Holt, freedom is a necessary condition for the individual to “actively seek and construct meaning through deliberate engagement with the world” (Miller, 2002). Although critical pedagogy focuses more on schools and formal education, there is an important connection between how people learn best and the context of social action. Mobilization often requires from people to care about the matters and issues, equally to learning that also requires interest, curiosity and personal willingness to learn. From this logic, it could be argued that people learn more easily in the contexts they care the most, about matters and issues they are interested in and in an informal or even incidental way rather than under the traditional models of transmission of knowledge that are commonly found in academia.  The connection between social movement participation and learning come from the motivation behind of the resistance action. Activism and learning share a common impetus, care. The possibility for students to experience knowledge in real life, as learning and discovery respond to and emerge from authentic environments where learners experiment and do things has been one of the central claims of how scholars as Dewey (2004), who saw curriculum and pedagogy as spaces where learns do things to learn from doing. In social action the possibilities of experimentation open a space where notions of “active learning” and “authentic learning,” meet and find powerful reasons create and share knowledge. Then social action embraces powerful forms of learning (Hall & Clover, 2005). Social action is the space where education becomes a tool to encourage social and collective action, actions to free individuals and contribute to collective organization and activism. In the context of  68 formal education, Ross (2019) in his essay “The Courage of Hopelessness: Democratic Education in the Age of Empire” addresses this point and argues: Education is not about showing life to people but bringing them to life. The aim is not getting students to listen to convincing lectures by experts but getting them to speak for themselves in order to achieve, or at least strive, toward an equal degree of participation and better future (p. 59). The challenge for students and activists is to be able to rethink and reimage the role education and their own learning has in the making of daily life, inside and more so, outside from academia. The impact is that new and alternative ways to think, engage and learn can create real opportunities to change the world and avoid prolonging unequal, unjust and oppressive relations.  2.7 The Student Movement in Economics Experiencing the global financial crisis of 2008 was the reason why many youths decided to start studying economics. They enrolled in an economics program because they wanted to understand and transform the economy (Earle et al., 2017). Nonetheless, their journey in economics as students caused them frustration and disappointment. They were disappointed with the formal curriculum because economics education barely mentions any crisis and it does not offer any sort of tools, skills, models of information regarding how to deal with the never-ending crises, it does not explain crisis, bubbles or crashes and so on. Economics degrees minimize the consequences and effects of crisis, bubbles and crashes in the economy (Fischer et al., 2017). Economics, described by students in the movement, focuses on highly abstract topics, uses neoclassical modeling and theory, and introduces little to noting real-world applications (Earle et al., 2017).   69 The rise of inequality, the deterioration of the natural environment and the advancement of neoliberal economic policy have become triggers to different forms of social action and activism in the recent years. Following the global financial crisis of 2008, the majority of narratives circulating in the mass media showed confusion and desperation. Mainstream journalists and columnists demanded answers from experts in economics around the world. At universities, economics departments appeared to not know how or why the crisis came to happen. The discipline fell into a crisis. Economists were supposedly the ones who best understood how the economy functions. However, they did not quite know what was going on, as it was evident in many newspaper headlines and media reports of the time (e.g., Hilsenrath, Ng, & Paletta, 2008; Pierce, 2008). Pierce’s (2008), for example, has as a title a reference from The Queen asking economists and experts about the reasons behind the crisis. The headline reads: “The Queen asks why no one saw the credit crunch coming.” The crisis opened a door to questions the discipline, however as the effects of the crisis seem to fade from the main reporting of the mass media, economics continued to be the most politically influential social science and economists continue to claim professional authority over the matters of the economy (Hirschman & Berman, 2014; MacKenzie et al., 2007; Yarrow, 2010). Mathematical and statistic methods are considered by economists allegedly more adequate than alternative, critical, participative and interpretative methods for public policy analysis and evaluation (Hirschman & Berman, 2014; Weintraub, 2002). The knowledge gap between economists and citizens regarding how economic policy is created, recommended and evaluated perpetuates the idea that decision making and policy need to be treated as scientific and purely technical and therefore these decisions should be delegated to experts (Earle et al., 2017).   70 Such overconfidence in modeling and econometrics backfired as politicians and common people are distancing themselves from technocratic policymaking. Moreover, the result of the gap between expert knowledge in economics and everyday people has been discouraging for the relevance of economics as a discipline, because political figures around the world (such as Donald J. Trump in the United States or Jair Bolsonaro in Brazil) are promulgating demagoguery and a system of governance where public policies are based on ideology and dogmatism rather than on evidence or specialized scientific and technical knowledge or expertise. Paradoxically, economics continues to be considered the more “scientific” of the social sciences (Fourcade, Ollion, & Algan, 2015), although worldwide academic economists write columns and editorials echoing how they are feeling ignored by politicians (e.g., Caballero, 2018), and economists’ knowledge has become diminished to specialized academic spaces separated from the setting of the public political agenda (Earle et al., 2017). The crisis in economics as a discipline following the 2008 financial crisis produced different voices and the movement organized by economics students has been one of the strongest. Their agenda has had a wide reception among the students and with the broad non-economist community. It was precisely the organized struggle and the narratives coming from the student community that had success connecting to the general public and changing how the public views economics. Since 2012, pressure has grown inside economics departments to change the curriculum. Students have organized themselves as a strong international movement and their efforts have had a resonance with the media and the general public, particularly in the United Kingdom. Students started the movement out of their frustration and disappointment with the lack of plurality in their education and the vast  71 disconnection between economics curriculum and the real world (Earle et al., 2017). As the movement grows internationally, students have become more prolific: they have published books (Earle et al., 2017), launched public seminars and events (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014), filmed documentaries (Rieser, 2013), and continue to find ways to make their message relevant inside and outside the academy.  Feraboli and Morelli (2018) in their publication titled Post-Crash Economics narrate the experiences of six economics students attending the Teaching Economics in the 21st Century Conference at the University of Dundee. They explore students’ frustration in their programs and explicate how the 2008 crisis and the Brexit influenced their political activism at PCES and other student organizations. Feraboli and Morelli, who are students themselves, explain many of the failures of the discipline and the marginalization of pluralist thinking in economics, as they put it: Due to the failure of orthodox economic theories, an alternative set of what is referred to as ‘pluralist’ and ‘heterodox’ economic ideas has begun to emerge and has a greater impact on the economics discipline. Pluralist and heterodox, innovative and alternative approaches are rooted in a range of authors—Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Joseph Schumpeter, John Maynard Keynes and Piero Sraffa, among others—who have played an essential role in shaping the subject’s theories during the last centuries. These authors have since the 1970s however been marginalized by mainstream ‘orthodox’ economics, have been ignored by most of curricula and should be rediscovered as they provide viewpoints and methods which are able to address economic phenomena more realistically. (p. 2)  72 University economics students started to organize mid-way through the 2012 and 2013 academic years. From student organizations in Manchester, England, where meetings were held by few students to global networks and international organizations that integrates student societies around the world. The Post-Crash Economic Society (PCES) was one of the leading organizations and was positioned at the forefront of debate during 2012 and 2013.  Students from PCES claim that they were inspired to start their society by attending the Bank of England debate: Are Economics Graduates Fit for Purpose? A debate held in order to analyse the repercussions and responsibilities of economics education in the economic crisis, and the perceptions of employers had regarding the skills of economics graduates. Many of the students that attended the event decided to hold their own local event at the University of Manchester. They used the same title as the Bank of England used in their event, made a call for students to join the event and around of 150 students attended. This first meeting helped them to start the PCES. In a few months, more initiatives around the world sparked. In matter of a year students created network societies around the globe, PEPS Économie in France10, Rethinking Economics Network11 in the UK and Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik12 in Germany (Earle et al., 2017). The Post-Crash Economics Society (PCES) is a leading organization in the movement and one of the more media-oriented organization. One important factor to consider, for instance is that PCES is central to better understand how the movement has evolved and the direction it is taking. Members of PCES describe themselves as a lobbying  10 11 12  73 society that promotes debate and discussions about how economists are educated. In this sense, the movement as well as PCES has emphasise in the role of students lobbying for change. The strategies, contention politics and tactics have lean towards a lobbying agenda, instead of a radical or revolutionary one. PCES students advocate pluralism in economics and continuously clarify that they are not a group of students that organize themselves to “get rid of central banks, overthrow capitalism, save the planet ....” (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). Instead, they consider themselves to be a society whose goal is to contribute “to establish a reality based (inductively taught), pluralistic economics, particularly at undergraduate level” (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). As it stated in their web page, the objective of the society is:  campaigning for a change in the syllabus itself. Whilst we believe events and discussion are extremely valuable, most students won’t receive the economics education they require unless the content of their degrees change. As a society, we are committed to pluralism within economics. We believe that the mainstream within the discipline has excluded all dissenting opinion, and the crisis is arguably the ultimate price of this exclusion. Alternative approaches such as Post-Keynesian, Marxist, and Austrian economics (as well as many others) have been marginalized. The same can be said of the history of the discipline. Students are routinely taught that only one form of economics is ‘scientific’ and ‘correct’. Complacency was therefore sure to arise, and the failure of so many mainstream economists to see the crisis appears to vindicate these worries. We hope to challenge this outlook that credits only one form of economics and want to create an academic environment within economics that  74 never rests on its laurels and invites intrigue and critical thinking from students. (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2012) The student movement follows a similar logic regarding their agenda. They center their attention on pluralism and the need to include theories and models from alternative schools of thought in economics, and also to give space to theories from the schools that have been historically marginalized by the mainstream in economics. The PCES leapt to public attention in 2013 and the movement to change economics education gained momentum. There were two reasons behind the media attention, first PCES just published their petition to change the economics curriculum and secondly the context of the crisis and the need to find someone responsible was in vogue (Pierce, 2008). A variety of UK and international media sources published articles about the student organizations (Inman, 2013a, 2013b; C. Jones, 2013). At the end of 2013, students created the international student initiative for pluralism in economics ISIPE, initiative that gave the movement an international scope.  Many economists that were part of similar movements during their time as students supported the international student call to change economics, for example, students that were part of the reform movement at University of Sydney, the Post-Autistic Economics Movement (PAE)13 in France and PhD students from Cambridge University that led the “Opening Up Economics”14 campaign in 2000. Today, the students who were part these previous movements are now members of academia – professors and professional  13 Post-Autistic Economics (PAE) was an economics movement which started in France among a group of economics students. In 2000, the panel of French economists answered the call and impulse a limited curricular reform in France. 14 In 2001 students at Cambridge wrote a petition called “Opening Up Economics”  75 economists – and through workshops, seminars and conferences have connected their work to the movement. The interconnection between students and organizations from past movements nurture the narratives and tactics used by students in the current movement.  PCES has hosted formal and informal talks, academic and non-academic seminars, book readings and has helped the formation of student networks around the world. Up to the date PCES members use actively social networks, blogging, and other Internet-based tools to amplifying their audience. PCES’s Facebook page and Twitter page have been sites of energized debate around the economics curriculum not only in their department at Manchester’s University but generally in the discipline of economics including scholars all over the world. Students are proud of their achievements, as they note  Student-led Post-Crash Societies have been vigorously challenging the dominance of a single approach to the teaching of undergraduate economics programmes. One such society, the Manchester Post-Crash Economics Society, produced their own report in 2014 on the inadequacies of the discipline to address contemporary needs of economics students (Feraboli & Morelli, 2018, pp 1)  As part of PCES’ efforts to build up a movement, students educate themselves about the content that is not present in the curriculum. Students have hosted talks, meetings and seminars about Keynesian, Marxist, and other schools of economic thought. Students offer independent, self-directed courses for all people to attend voluntarily. These could be spaces to discuss about economics and learn by talking and debating or they can also be courses to take as extracurricular activity or by students or people interested in the topics but not associated to the university. Proctor (2019) wrote a brief report attempting to put together all  76 the events, reports, webpages, research studies, resources, publications and academic work that resulted from the movement to reform economics education.  After the initial media coverage of the PCES campaign and efforts to lead the national debate about economics education. For instance, the student organization was the subject of two BBC Radio 4 programmes: Teaching Economic after the Crash (BBC, 2014) and Economic Rebellion (BBC, 2016). Soon after, PCES economics students met with the London School of Economics students and other student in similar initiatives in London and decided to fund a youth network called Rethinking Economics (Dhondt & Kolbe, 2017; Thornton, 2017). Through the network, students have organized hundreds of talks, seminars and conferences, articulated student organizations in universities all across the UK and integrated various student networks from other countries and continents. Rethinking Economics has become a central actor to lobby for change in economics and to find financial resources for the coordination of efforts and the consolidation of ISIPE – International Students Initiative for pluralism in economics. According to their web page, about 70% of students and members of the Rethinking Economics are located in the UK and the rest are spread across Europe, United States, with a few organizations in South America. Similarly, as an international initiative ISIPE joins 65 students organization around the world and holds several alliances to organizations and movements outside of academia to make the movement relevant to them and integrate the economics student movement to a wide variety of movements seeking to build democratic, just and more equal citizenship.  2.8 Summary of Arguments The review of the literature focused in three main topics, curriculum design, critical pedagogy and higher education, student activism and learning in social action. The three  77 topics allow to present a framework to better understand the experiences portrayed in the narrative themes. On one hand, curriculum theory contributes to explain the relationship that disciplines have with students and how institutional knowledge and universities have put criteria in place to determine what knowledge is of most worth. Also, critical pedagogy and the relation between counter narratives in curriculum design contributes to understand how there are viable alternatives to make change possible in how economics is taught in universities. In this way, the dialogue between students’ experiences is understood in the context of a bigger historical battle to transform an unjust capitalist economic system and this social struggle goes beyond economics education and higher education.  The literature in social movements explains many of the underlying situations and contexts that give birth to the movement. For instance, how the 2008 economic crisis was a political opportunity for the movement to raise. The difficulties of student activism explained by the literature also relate and contribute to explaining many of the situations that students narrate that were part of their challenges as organizers in the economics student movement. Similarly, the literature in social movement learning serves as framework to better comprehend how students have used pedagogically the movement to learn and unlearn economics knowledge, activism. The development of self-education spaces as part of their organizing work, and the nature of the learning experiences that take place in the middle of a student mobilization. Several elements in social movement literature contribute to better understand the path that PCES and the movement in economics departments are following. The worldview of pluralism in the teaching of economics is a holistic framework to understand education and to articulate how economics should be learn and teach.   78 Economics needs a transformation, and also the pedagogy of economics education needs to be transformed. In terms of ideals, also the movement hold a worldview regarding the aim of education. For students in the movement education should help to transform the world, not only to understanding in an abstract way, or to transformed to serve the market interests. There is a consciousness about how economics is able to transform and perform markets to make them efficient. However, students argue that economics needs a transformation that contributes to the democratization of knowledge and to social justice and equality.  79 Chapter 3. Methodology The methodology used in this study is a thematic and performative approach to narrative analysis. Narrative analysis is both a research framework and a family of research methods through which social scientists investigate human experience (Riessman, 2005). Narratives are understood as devices where people create and share meanings and personal or social understandings about justice, identity, knowledge and wisdom. Stories can be defined as a succession or sequence of events that help people think, reflect, understand and communicate experiences and perceptions (Bruner, 1991, 2003). Although it is most common to think about stories as if they refer only to written or oral narratives told strictly in storied form, stories can also be found in images, photographs, videos, music, comics, murals, etc. (Riessman, 2008). For instance, academic research can be understood as a form of narrative that convey scientific meanings.  This research is grounded in an interpretivist approach to narrative analysis where I, as a researcher, explore and interpret economics students’ experiences in activism and in social action through the narratives they create and share. As a researcher, I am informed by a constructionist epistemology which claims that “all knowledge, and therefore all meaningful reality as such, is contingent upon human practices, being constructed in and out of interaction between human beings and their world, and developed and transmitted within an essentially social context.” (Crotty, 1998) Therefore, in this research I understand studenthood, activism and pedagogy as diverse, convoluted and conflicted social phenomena that are meaningful to student activists as they engage with the world (Agostinone-Wilson, 2013; Crotty, 1998; Flick, 2009; Law, 2004). Interpretative researchers recognize that reality  80 is not fixed or reducible to a singular interpretation and meanings are ultimately created by individuals as they engage and interact with the world (Merriam, 2009).  The goal of this research is not to explain student experience, social action or test theories about the relationships between both. Rather, it seeks to understand inductively students’ experiences, relations and perceptions by a close study of narratives taking place in the student movement in university economics departments. Social action and the way in which pedagogical relations are carried in universities influence student learning experiences, their perceptions about their disciplines and their interpretations of discipline-based knowledge and the world in general. Social action and student experiences happen in the context of the neoliberal university and both experiences allow profound learnings and understandings that are being constantly negotiated by students at the daily bases. In these negotiations, students’ subjectivities, emotions, feelings and identity come into a conversation deeply enough to transform one to another and form synergies that vary from student to student. Therefore, this study does not offer unique explanations but a complex set interpretations and meanings about relations between activism and student life.  Furthermore, as researcher, I acknowledge that my work and my involvement are not separated from the construction of social reality. In this sense, my knowledge, interpretations and understandings of the movement and students’ experiences are contingent and are always going to be intersubjective, contextual and polysemic (Mathison, 2009a). Narrative analysis, as Riessman (2008) notes focuses on people’s interpretations of meaning and life experiences. Narrative analysis does not seek to offer a single truth about someone’s experiences but interpretations and reflections on people’s experiences. Riessman (2008) identifies four types of narrative analysis: thematic analyses, structural analysis,  81 performative or dialogical analysis, and visual narrative analysis. In synthesis these methods are:  • Thematic analysis is used in the analysis of the content of a narrative. It helps researchers to identify conceptual groupings or thematic elements (Holstein & Gubrium, 2011; Riessman, 2008).  • Structural analysis focuses on the form of a narrative. It studies the organization and the literary and linguistic devices used in a narrative.  • Performative analysis identifies and recreates characters, dialogues, and interactions among audiences, narrators and characters.  • A visual analysis looks at narratives in terms of sites of production and composition of the narrative (Riessman, 2008).  In this study, I combine thematic and performative narrative analysis15 using participant observation and semi-structured interviewing to co-construct and cross-reference themes and frames that emerged from a previous analysis of narratives in documents (books, articles, webinars, internet posts, social media accounts and reports) published by students in the movement.  I use performative narrative analysis to construct the final narratives. I employed restorying to create coherent narrative themes that offer readers an organized interpretation of the movement. A performative analysis contributes to think through data elements of time,  15 Performative narrative analysis as a methodology differs from the notion of linguistic performativity proposed by J.L. Austin. For instance, this research does not seek to identify performative statements that are able to produce reality suggesting a relation between language and action. The aim of performative analysis is to recreate, represent or retell stories, characters, dialogues and interactions in order to offer an interpretation of social reality.   82 progression of a plot, characters, emotions and feelings and presents them in a coherent interpretation that connects readers to students’ context and lived experiences. In summary, this research provides a narrative approach to the exploration of the complexities of student experiences in activism.  The findings, presented in Chapter 4, are divided into seven themes that represent economics students’ interpretation and understanding of their experience in economics, their role in society, and the experience of doing curricular activism. Each theme is built around a question that invites readers to reflect about their own experiences and opinions. The text presents students’ impressions and interpretations of the questions as if they were interacting with the reader in a deeper exploration of the questions. Quotations from interviews and student publications provide the evidence to see students’ experiences. Direct quotes offer evidence from economics students’ experiences that contribute to the dialogue between thematic questions, student experience and the readers’ experience. The following tables provide a brief introduction to the findings and the narrative analysis, which is described in greater detail later in this chapter. Table 1 presents each narrative theme and a brief description of the content     83 Table 1 Short Description of the Narrative Themes   Narrative Theme Description How was the 2008 economic crisis experienced by economics students in the movement? The role of the 2008 financial crisis in the emergence of the student economics education movement. What is an economist anyway? The influence of the stereotyped image of an economist on students’ understanding of their professional identity and narrate their experiences as activists. How would students like an economist to be? Citizenship is an essential component of student activism, including the need to democratize economics knowledge as a central goal of curricular activism. How do students resist, from “I prefer to pick my battles” to “I admit that in part I just wanted to fuck with these people”? Tactics and strategies chosen by students in the movement to mobilize, interrupt, disrupt, question, and legitimate the movement and their agenda. Do students have the right to demand curriculum change? Exercising authority over the curriculum. Why students believe they have a right to participate and contribute to the decisions about economics curricula. How and what do students teach themselves? Activism contributes to learning in formal, informal, and incidental contexts. Students learn and unlearn economics as result of their activism. Why do they write reports? Reports are important tools for the movement. How reports contribute to the movement’s identity.  Note: This table introduces and describes in few sentences each final narrative theme. Each narrative theme was crafted using coded data, characters (students) and plot. Table 2 shows how characters (students) and codes were combined in each theme   84 Table 2  Characters and Codes Associated with Narrative Themes Narrative Theme Characters  Codes connected to theme The 2008 financial crisis Lisa Weinhold, PCES’s students, Cahal Moral, Maeve Cohen, Joe Earle. Crisis, financial crisis, 2008 crisis, global crisis, setting, context, frustrating, despair, rejection. Stereotype of an economist and identity  Yuan Yang, the stereotyped economist, Gina, JHughes, UK 10 years old children. An economist is, an economist is not, professional profile, stereotype, identity, self-image, coming from privilege, male, elitist profession. Citizenship and democracy  The citizen economist, PCES’s students, Joe Earl, Maeve, Cahal. Citizenship, citizen, democracy, economics for everyone, pedagogy-democracy, students’ role, activism-democracy. Tactics and strategies Researcher, Gina, Cahal, Betty, JHughes, Sally, Head of the department at Gina’s University. Tactic, conference, events, alternative theories, strategies, faculty response, traditional education- lectures, curriculum-authority, pedagogy-authority, repertoires, administrative-management, universities’ response. Authority over the curriculum Maeve, Cahal Student-curriculum, curriculum-authority, pedagogy-authority, curriculum design, students-direct action, Maeve, student-client-consumer, neoliberalism, student-human capital, burn out, recruitment. Learning in social action Sally, Maeve, Cahal, ISIPE’s students, Joe Earle. Alternative spaces, groups study, will to learn, learning in social action, reports, learning to evaluate, engagement, commitment, motivation, feedback, materials, collaborative learning. Evaluation reports PCES’ students, PCES’ report. Reports, evaluations, critical thinking, legitimacy, dialogue, tactics, evidence. Note: This table summarizes thematic codes and characters that were related to each theme. Each code was assigned to data in a primary phase of coding.  85 In the process of writing the narrative themes I employed a restorying technique. Restorying, according to Ollerenshaw and Creswell (2002), is the process of retelling a story and it implies a reading of the raw data, an analysis and interpretation of the stories. Narrative elements such as plots, characters, or descriptions of sentiments and circumstances were taken directly from data sources: interviews, social media posts, documentaries, videos, and academic publications. The narratives presented in each theme result from an iterative analysis moving first through an analysis of documents, online publications, and social media’s posts; then ana analysis of interviews and field notes, and finally a restorying to create meaningful, coherent themes about the student movement. My understandings of the themes were influenced by the theoretical framework, and my own experiences, interpretations and reflections about activism, economics education and higher education. Therefore, the restorying also includes elements from my personal interpretations as I ensembled them in the process of making sense of students’ experiences. In addition, the narrative themes were designed to coherently present a rich and complex account of what is like to be an activist in economics education. For example, the narrative theme II: “What is an economist anyway?” was restoried as Table 3 illustrates.   86  Table 3  Restoring process for narrative theme II: “What is an economist anyway?” Narrative Element in the Theme Element Presented in the Narrative Theme Element in the Data (Transcripts and Data) Opening: 10 years old children drawings An experiment that shows that economists are associated with white men from privilege and wealth. Drawings retrieved from  Opening: Yuan Yang presents some drawings in her talk at Sussex University The narrative builds up from Yuan evoking reflection regarding identity by presenting some of the drawings. Yuan questions her place in the discipline. Yuan: “…if you are not just a white tall privileged man in a business suit with a monocle and top hat then can you be an economist? And if not, then what does that leave the rest of us?” (Yang, 2015) Problem, character one: Yuan Yang’s identity as “non economist” Yuan’s has an undergraduate degree in philosophy and economics, and a master’s degree in economics. At her talk at Sussex University she admits that sometimes she has a hard time and hesitates when people ask her about her professional identity. Twitter profile: Journalist, writer. Professional profile in The Financial Times: “Yuan is China tech correspondent for the FT. She was previously a Marjorie Dean intern writing about development economics at The Economist. She is co-founder of the campaign, Rethinking Economics, that is calling for a more relevant curriculum that reflects real-world events.”  87 Narrative Element in the Theme Element Presented in the Narrative Theme Element in the Data (Transcripts and Data) Problem, character two: Gina’s identity as “non economist” She finished her undergraduate degree in political science instead of economics. In 2019, Gina is starting a postgrad degree in political and economic sociology. Gina prefers to identify herself as a social scientist, a sociologist and as a feminist. For her, rethinking economics and her activism created a spark of critical awareness and political consciousness regarding her role in society. Gina: “…I became an activist and I stayed with economics for another two years. It only changed it during the second half of my third year, quite at the end of the program. Economics is a four-year program and I was just like, come on, I can’t take all this math bullshit anymore, it didn't get any better and it didn't get any more interesting”  Gina: “I'm actually starting a postgraduate degree in October at the University of Cambridge; it will be in political and economic sociology”  88 Narrative Element in the Theme Element Presented in the Narrative Theme Element in the Data (Transcripts and Data) Problem, character three: JHughes’s profile and professional identity JHughes prefers to think about himself as a pedagogue. He wants his efforts in the movement to be more related to popular education and pedagogy JHughes: “I refuse to consider myself an Economist. I suppose I’m going a bit more cynical about the profession and I also happen to have many respects for the training needed to be considered an economist.” JHughes: “Joe Earl is one of the founders of PCES. He says the same and he is done a PhD in economics. He still says, “I don’t consider myself an Economist.” And there are a few people of the movement who don’t like that as well” JHughes: “I am keeping my interest and sustaining my connection with the movement as it is an important thing for me” JHughes: “I do not feel the same connection now that I left the university. I’m more attracted of the rethinking economics and the message around integrating public awareness about economics. Helping people to be more aware about economics and its impact in our lives. I see it as an extension of the volunteer work I do” Resolution, character one: Yuan Yang’s arguments about economics Economics barely interacts with other social sciences  Economics lacks diversity of perspectives  Narrows possibilities for students to explore diversity of intellectual interests  “Although studying the economy could be done in many different ways, I think in the last fifty years economists have converged to one right particular way to studying the economy which is mathematical, and which is modeling based. So I think when we say neoclassical economics, and when we say that neoclassical economics become monolithic  89 Narrative Element in the Theme Element Presented in the Narrative Theme Element in the Data (Transcripts and Data) Economics is limiting them and their discipline to achieve a better understanding of the world what we really mean is the methods of neoclassical economics have dominated the whole of the study of economics to the degree that pushes out other subject areas that economics needs to be concern with. It does mean that you ask the kinds of questions and you restrict yourself to the kinds of subject matter that are easily modeled and easily kind of reducible to this mathematical framework.” (Yuan in Riesman, 2013) Resolution, character two: Gina’s arguments about economics She had to change disciplines because of the topics she wanted to research: an exploration of gender budgeting and the importance of the government’s budget for women and women’s needs. She speaks about the limitations in the range and scope of research available in economics education. However, she manifests that her topic of interest is still about economics, but she prefers to explore it from other perspectives and disciplines. “I'll study politics, I can ironically do more interesting economics research within the field of politics or even in sociology than I could have ever done in economics because I'm more interested in questions of social justice and I am in touch with the UK Women's Budget Group and the Scottish Women's Budget Group”  “I'm more interested in questions of social justice and feminist economics and I want to use a diverse range of methodologies to do so.” “I can ironically do more interesting research about the economy and the real world within the field of politics than the field of economics” “I never actually quit my interest in economics but I kind of changed my academic home so I could actually research what I'm interested in”  90 Narrative Element in the Theme Element Presented in the Narrative Theme Element in the Data (Transcripts and Data) Resolution, character three: JHughes’s arguments about economics He cares about “integrating public awareness about economics, helping to make people aware of the lack of pluralism in economics and the many impacts it has in the daily lives of people.” In terms of being an economist he reiterates that he sees difficulties to articulate his personal interests with the discipline of economics. In this sense, his future was closer to activism than mainstream economics. “… I do like economics and economic policies are really an interest of mine. So, I like to watch it from an outside perspective. I don’t like to consider myself an economist” Note: This table shows who data from interviews and online sources provide a more comprehensive description of students’ experience and allow to re-write their narratives by representing their struggles and experiences in an organized and coherent narrative.    91 Summarizing, each narrative theme invites readers to explore specific questions related to students’ experiences in curriculum activism. The questions are meant to help readers relate to student activists as each theme offers an interpretation of a salient aspect of students’ experiences in the movement. The use of narrative representations places students’ perceptions and experiences in proximity and familiarity to the reader, they encourage the reader to forge a relationship with the students by offering a compelling picture of what it is like to be a student activist in the economics student movement 3.1 Narrative Research in the Context of Social Action In the context of social research, there are many reasons why academics employ stories and narrative analysis. Connelly and Clandinin (1990), Webster and Mertova (2007), and many other authors have shown stories are effective tools that help us to understand the world around us. Ricœur (1990) argues that stories are reproductions of human action. They emulate or re-enact reality and open horizons of action. In other words, it is through storytelling that reality itself is reconstructed, created and recreated as a process of (re)imagination. In the context of social movements, as Polletta (2006) puts it, stories and storytelling are fundamental in the processes “to bring about social change” (p. 2). Stories “elicit sympathy on the part of the powerful and … mobilize official action against social wrongs” (p. 3). Narratives are tools that elicit emotions and are intrinsic products or outputs that social movements leave as forms of expressions of dissent and resistance (Ewick & Silbey, 1995). Narratives in social movements are particularly useful given the possibilities that stories have to act as devices to document the history of a movement, and also the ability to persuade  92 audiences, call the media attention and resonate with people’s everyday experiences (Feldman, Sköldberg, Brown, & Horner, 2004; Polletta, 2006).  Narratives can be interpreted as forms of movement discourse and, at the same time, as a crucial analytical concept to understand the dynamics and development of collective action. Narratives help social researchers to better understand and interpret the world as they mediate social interactions. At the same time, narratives carry sociocultural and contextual meanings (Durham & Kellner, 2005; Kellner, 2003). Narratives contribute understanding of power dynamics, competing ideologies and interpretations of the world (Durham, & Kellner, 2005; Kellner, 2003). Narrative analysis can be used to study different forms of material culture: visual artifacts, performances or stories. This methodology has a long tradition in social research and during the last decades it has gained more popularity in the field of education (Clandinin & Huber, 2010; Covert & Koro-Ljungberg, 2015; Freeman & Mathison, 2009; Freeman, Mathison, & Wilcox, 2006; Holstein & Gubrium, 2011; Robert & Shenhav, 2014) and in the study of social movements (Coley, 2015; Davis, 2002b; Polletta, 1998).  3.2 Participants and Recruitment  The student movement for pluralism in economics involves several student organizations from around the world. The most salient student organizations are: ISIPE – International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics, The Post-Crash Economics Society at the University of Manchester, PEPS Économie in France, Rethinking Economics Network in the UK, Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik in Germany. The participants for this study were economics students actively involved in either the Post-Crash Economic Society (PCES), the Rethinking Economics Network or were members of ISIPE –International  93 Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics. All of the participants were chosen because they played a leading role in the movement, acted as their organization spokesperson and had previous experiences with interviews about their activist work. They were vocal about their relationship with the movement and their experiences about activism and their student life.  The recruitment of participants was made online by using the contact sites on the organization’s official webpages and by email. Following BREB Third Party Recruitment Guidelines this research employed snowball sampling to facilitate the recruitment of participants. To protect confidentially and prevent identification of participants, the majority of the content obtained through Facebook open groups and pages, Twitter and other online platforms was paraphrased and anonymized. I avoided the use of direct quotes in the cases of posts and comments that were done directly by students from their personal social network profiles. In these cases, I paraphrased and anonymized all collected statements or comments, therefore they cannot be linked back to the individual students. In addition, all the participants chose a preferred pseudonym and non-specific identifiers for their student organizations and universities. According to their preferences, student identities were anonymized except for participants who indicated that they prefer their identity to be known.  Table 4 lists the participants and their roles as student leaders in the movement from universities in the UK.       94 Table 4  Participants’ Roles in the Movement Pseudonym Role in the movement and affiliated institutions Cahal Leader at PCES – Post crash economics society  Gina Activists at a Russell Group University JHughes Former economics student and activist at a Russell Group University in the North of England Betty Economics student and leader at a Russell Group university (Composite character) Sally Economics student and pluralist university group leader at a Russell Group university Maeve Cohen Leader at PCES and chair of Rethinking Economics UK Yuan Yang Chair Rethinking Economics UK Joe Earle Leader at PCES  The participants become characters in the narrative themes. Joe Earle, Yuan Yang and Maeve Cohen are students whose stories, narratives and experiences presented in the final themes were taken from their published books, academic papers, and their participation in media interviews, documentaries and videos. Betty was created as composite character created to include a common point of view collected from comments, posts or videos from anonymized account profiles in social media and online forums. In the case of the universities and institutions, few participants chose to disclose the name of their universities, and the majority chose to pseudonymized it.     95 3.3 Data Collection  Similar to most of contemporary social and student movements, the online presence of the economics student movement occurs in the following communities: official webpages, economics students web forums, Facebook open groups, Facebook public pages, Twitter profiles and hashtags, Instagram public pages, economics students’ blogs and official Youtube pages. Student activists have been very active by posting diverse content related to economics education and participating in online discussions. In addition, Rethinking Economics and the Post-Crash Economics Society have organized several online public events. Those events are recorded and uploaded to their official Youtube channels, posted in Facebook pages and shared in their Twitter accounts.  The main sources of online data used in this research are considered to be part of the public domain. Facebook groups and other online social network pages were created by the movement as public, open and searchable. This means that all internet users can access the information in those pages, and there is no need to use logins or passwords to see the content or read the narratives. Those pages are public forums for everyone to participate and comment about economics education.  The webpages that were part of the research include the following:  • ISIPE-International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics.: • The Post-Crash Economics Society: • PEPS Économie: • Rethinking Economics: • Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik:   96 Facebook pages and groups: •,  • •, • •  • The online data were collected from 2012 to 2016 and the interviews took place in summer of 2018, during which field notes were also kept. I kept a research journal throughout the process of data collection. Journaling is considered to be a tool for keeping track of thoughts during fieldwork (Clandinin & Connelly, 2000; Patton, 2002). The multiple data sources and an iterative data analysis strategy insured triangulation was used as strategy to improve the validly of the research findings, to articulate rich and complex accounts of the relations between pedagogy, social action and studentship (Mathison, 1988). Most of the interviews were conducted in person during the summer of 2018 in London and Manchester, England. Since the movement is worldwide and some student activists were located in a different country, it was necessary to use Skype and follow up emails to clarify, expand upon and further explore their responses.  The format of the interviews was open and unstructured to encourage participants to express their perspectives and experiences in their own way and to encourage to tell a story and use anecdotes (Holstein & Gubrium, 2004). The researcher worked from a general script of questions (see Appendix A) focussing attention on four areas: the main agenda of the  97 movement, activists’ understandings of the pedagogical function of the movement, participants’ experiences of being students and activists at the same time and the lessons gained from their experiences as students challenging their own institutions, professors and discipline.  3.4 Data Analysis and Interpretation  Data from online sources was categorized by a combination of emerging analytical themes in the data and references from theoretical and philosophical concepts (Merriam, 2009). Themes were informed in two ways: deductively through the theories informing the research (student hood, the curriculum, pedagogical relations, activism) and inductively through the data (Merriam, 2009). Following Lieblich et al. (2011), first I read the material numerous times until an initial pattern of themes emerged and became more evident. An early set of impressions and interpretation was put in writing.  In an iterative process, data from online sources were coded primarily according to temporality, characters involved and place. A second layer of codes was added for personal conditions such as emotions, feelings, hopes, desires, moral dispositions and social conditions such as cultural, institutional and social elements (Clandinin, 2013). The data collected from interviews was transcribed from the audio recordings and coded following the same procedure to online sources.  Figure 3.1 summarizes the overall processes of collection and analysis of data. Figure 3.2 illustrates the three components that influenced how the first patterns and codes emerged. NVivo was used to facilitate data analysis.     98 Figure 3.1  Process of Data Collection and Analysis   Figure 3.2 Components used to Identify and Assign Initial Codes  Note: This figure shows three elements that influenced the first attempt of coding from data in documents, online social media accounts, publications and other secondary sources. Figure 3.3 shows the coding process for interviews and field notes.    99 Figure 3.3  Data Analysis Process –Second Round of Coding   Note: This figure represents how the elements from the first codes influence the questions that were used in the interviews and the second layer of coding. The initial codes informed the second stage of the research: interviews and participant observation. Thematic analysis was used to carry on a second attempt. The first group of codes was cross reference with data from interviews and field notes. The final group of analytical codes was the result of this exercise of iteration. Following this iterative process seven thematic compositions represented in the final narrative themes. The performative elements that were taken into account were: the need to create a plot, articulate characters to the narrative, represent and honor students’ life experiences, and clearly represent students’ emotions and feelings.  Figure 3.4 illustrates how the performative analysis contributed to creating the final themes.    100 Figure 3.4 Performative Analysis Process   Note: This figure illustrates the narrative and performative aspects that were included in the performative analysis. From this analysis the seven final narrative themes emerged.  To construct the final narrative themes, I followed a restorying technique seeking to build coherent portraits of the participants’ experiences using data directly from online sources, interviews and field work. Table 5 illustrates this restorying process for narrative theme IV including how data from various sources were selected based on codes assigned to the data.  101 Table 5  Restoring Example from Data for Theme IV (how do students resist)   Narrative Elements Codes and Data Sources Restoried Version  Opening and setting  Field notes: no visual representations of repertoires of contention in campus. Campus is quiet. Classrooms organized. Calmed. No posters, no graffiti. Ask about it. Direct actions? Does it look different during conferences and events?  From my field notes I recreate the entire scene of myself walking by the campus at Manchester. I create a setting and elaborate on visual tactics in a comparison between campuses in my home country and Manchester’s. I enrich the descriptions evoking my expectations and inviting readers to wonder.  Characters Gina’s interview transcript, Cahal’s interview transcript, Sally’s interview transcript, JHughes’ interview transcript and Betty a composed character that collects a variety of students’ opinions in the movement social media accounts, videos and online posts. Mainly, Betty gives voice to students who manifest themselves explicitly optimistic about social action and the movement. For example: “that someone just needs to start talking to fellow students, sympathetic lecturers, and little by little the university will have a movement” (a student interviewed in Rieser, 2013)    Gina, Cahal, Sally, JHughes, and Betty who is a composite character that collects many of overtly optimistic approaches to social action.   102 Narrative Elements Codes and Data Sources Restoried Version  Conflicts Gina considers she is always making trouble. Question and tensions. Personal hatred. Volunteer to host a conference. Sense of revenge. Satisfaction in recognition and legitimacy.  Cahal, picking battles. Experiences of tension are uncommon but happened. Strategy. Academic movements that need balance between recruiting new members and maintaining/gaining legitimacy. Authority and mathematization of economics.  JHughes, student involvement in curriculum committees. Faculty tries to ignore. University seems reluctant to engage.  Sally, real changes are slow. Faculty members seem receptive. Faculty could do things, but they do not do them. JHughes and students speak about optimism and the possibilities to make change possible if we all work together. Collaboration. Voicing demands should be enough. Each student presents his or her story regarding direct action. JHughes starts narrating his experience and recalling Curriculum Advisory Committee meetings. Gina follows, she presents her stories starting from her willingness to question. She introduces the head of the department and tells how was like to feel involved in direct confrontation. She tells the story about the pluralist conference she held right before leaving the economics department. Betty introduces expediencies rather optimistic about activism, offering contrast to the narrative. Sally enriches the later approach by presenting a slightly different experience. She adds another dimension to the problem of tension: they say yes but do nothing. Sally introduces the reports as parts of the repertoires of contention. Cahal finishes presenting his experiences at PCES. Offers his reflection about the ways in which authority is exercised in academia.   103 The narrative themes are an interpretation of the experiences of activism that seeks to engage readers to think about and imagine what it is like to be a student in economics and engaged in curricular activism. As well, these narrative themes are representations of the multiple ways in which activism and student experience influence each other and create spaces to reimagine what it means to be economics students and activists in the age of the neoliberal university. 3.5 Ethical Concerns  This research has approval from the University of British Columbia Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB). It was considered minimal risk: participants were adults (University students) and the research did not involve collecting highly personal, sensitive or incriminating information. The participants all consented to be part of the study (Appendix B, consent form). According to the preference of each participant, I either anonymized or used preferred pseudonyms and modified all identifying markers of the participants to ensure confidentiality. To keep participants anonymous was challenging, during the interviews students frequently asked me who else in the network was participating and from which organizations and universities. Although I told them I could not disclose their names, since all of them are members of the same student network it is probable that some students exposed their participation to each other. Nonetheless, I have concealed the identity of participants who preferred to remain anonymous. Similar to the characters in the narratives that are composites, students were given pseudonyms to ensure that their narratives do not expose who they are. In this research the construction of narratives was through the interactions between participants and the researcher. Participants during the interviews were reflecting about their  104 experiences as activists and their student life. They shared anecdotes, evoked memories and personal reflections guided by my interview questions. During the interviews, students reflected, shared their thoughts, emotions, feelings and were making their own mind about their experiences during our interaction. Some students indicated they have not approached the topic of activism, curriculum design and authority the way I invited them to do through my questions; for example, the questions about authority over the curriculum and learning and unlearning opportunities brought by their participation in the movement. Although the interviews were designed as open dialogues, I was an active participant bringing new reflections and ideas to participants and evoking reflections that influenced their understanding of activism and economics education. In this sense, although I believe I successfully separate my voice from the voice of the participants, the influence I had in the dialogue through the way I formulated my questions and explain them remains as a concern. I found myself more than willing to expand my explanations of what I meant with my questions, and to add information from my own knowledge about the movement.  The methodological approach taken in this research involved data collection and data analysis as highly interpretative steps during the research process. Data is gathered, co-constructed and shared in a collaboration between the researcher and the participants. In my data there are many voices that needed to be included besides the students who were interviewed, and even more so because I took into account the number of voices in online narratives and the influence of social and cultural narratives (Riessman, 2008). To find a strategy to maintain narrative coherence and capture so many voices and the diversity in the opinions regarding economics was a challenge. Student activism is diverse, and students are a particularly diverse social group, as I mentioned previously, to represent such variety of  105 voices implied the use of a composite character that exaggerates and in a certain way stereotypes some positions or opinions. This strategy allowed to me to represent a diverse range of experiences and to maintain coherence, but it was at the expenses of presenting the rather diffuse, and sometimes contradictory and conflicted set of opinions, perceptions and experiences. It was a concern to not be reductive or to present a disjointed and uncoherent narrative. My goal was to present the findings in a coherent representation of the patterns of themes and at the same time show the diversity of experiences and opinions. The challenge was to honor each story in the final narratives. Therefore, details about students were added or edited and constructed through my own interpretation of the students' experiences, perceptions and stories.   106 Chapter 4. The Pedagogical Potential of Student Activism Narratives are part of the discursive frame of any form of social activism. They help movements to define their identity and communicate a conceptual framework in which activists interpret and explain the world. The urgent need to stop the rise of poverty and inequality, the deterioration of the natural environment and the advancement of neoliberal economic policy are the narratives in which different forms of social action and activism have framed their resistance. Generally speaking, the economy and the importance of economic growth and development have become the central cultural and social narrative around which western societies organize themselves. Indeed, governmental institutions, policy makers, and mainstream media gravitate towards the narratives of economic growth and development (Earle et al., 2017; Michaels, 2011). Likewise, resistance movements also have built up stories as counter narratives to the mainstream and are telling those stories to change people’s perspectives and persuade others about the possibility to transform the world.  The following seven narrative themes are representations of how economics students experienced activism and are aimed to offer an impression about how students describe their relationships with pedagogy, economics education and curriculum activism. Each theme presents a collection of research findings and narratives from student activists. The first narrative theme explores the meaning of the 2008 financial crisis as the social and political context in which the movement was born. The crisis offered a political opportunity for the movement to emerge and created a common ground for students to develop situational awareness. The crisis was the context from which students could start asking questions. Then, the 2008 financial crisis was the setting to begin telling the story of the economics  107 student’s movement. The second narrative theme introduces some of the activists in the movement, their research interests and their struggles dealing with the stereotype of becoming an economist. This narrative theme describes key elements that are characterized by the stereotype, particularly who is an economist, what an economist looks like and how economists behave. The narrative contrasts how students struggle to find their identity in their discipline and how they separate themselves and create distance from the stereotype and their identity. Narrative theme III presents another character. In this case, it is the citizen economist who is a counter character to the stereotyped economist presented in the narrative theme II. This narrative theme tells the story of how students would like to direct their activism in the future. This theme explores the movement’s future by narrating how students understand the relationship between economics knowledge, citizenship and democracy in their portrayal of the “citizen economist.” Narrative theme IV is a representation of how students from different organizations position themselves towards curriculum activism. This theme stands as a collage of stories of resistance that account for a variety of approaches to tactics and strategies used by students in the movement. Student’s personal relationships with their programs and departments mediates most of their rationales regarding tactical action. The narrative in the theme allows one to see how different efforts have been put together by students in their process of navigating activism and dealing with the repression from their institutions and discipline.  Narrative theme V approaches the question of authority over the higher education curriculum. This narrative theme takes the experience of two PCES student activists to convey a representation of how intellectual authority is asserted in economics departments  108 and how students understand and articulate their own right to decide about the content that they are learning. Universities and disciplines repress student activism by legitimizing their authority. Students navigate this relation in a variety of ways that are represented in the stories and anecdotes portrayed in this section Narrative theme VI presents the landscape of learning happening inside the movement. This creative piece takes from dialogues with student movement leaders to create a panorama about the different shapes and forms in which activists learn. This section offers an interpretation of how students embrace their relationships with learning and pedagogy. In addition, it offers an insight into how student activists define themselves as pedagogues in charge to use knowledge to change the world.  Lastly narrative theme VII explores evaluation reports as one common tactic used by economics students in the United Kingdom. In the economics student movement written reports are considered legitimate tools to present evaluative evidence, concisely present shortcomings and make claims about their programs. This narrative theme explores the reasons why students in economics are using evaluation reports as one of the main mechanisms to gain visibility and legitimacy in an academic environment. 4.1 Narrative Theme I: How was the 2008 economic crisis experienced by economics students in the movement? The student movement in economics departments began with the global financial crisis of 2008. A financial debacle that severely affected families around the world leaving them in poverty, destroying jobs and causing unemployment and inequality. The 2008 crisis harshly impacted everyone’s life and financial security. The dynamics of a deregulated global neoliberal capitalism and a predatory and rapacious culture of profiting profoundly  109 entrenched in the financial system led the economy to a completely collapse. Lisa Weinhold, an economics student at a German university and board member of the German student initiative for pluralism in economics, a student organization member of ISIPE, describes the multidimensionality of the crisis in the essay Exploring Economics for the 21st Century, as follows: We live in times of multiple and intersecting crises: Persistent global inequalities along the lines of nationality, class, race and gender that allow for simultaneous existence of extreme wealth, carbon-heavy lifestyles and unlimited mobility, while outrageous levels of poverty, hunger and disease persist. To make things even more serious, environmental destruction has reached exceptional dimensions, with temperature rising, extreme weather events spreading, desertification and biodiversity loss. (Weinhold, 2017, para. 1) The 2008 crisis included many overlapping problems that are persistent in a capitalist economy and continue to affect people’s life. The financial situations of families around the globe deepen in one of the worse economic situations where people lose their homes and jobs and had no income (Hilsenrath et al., 2008; Magdoff & Foster, 2009; Pierce, 2008). The generation of students and youth who lived the crisis face a prospectus of unemployment and unpayable debts. Numerous countries adopted austerity measures, and many years after the crisis they still deal with the aftermath of the economic debacle. To student activists in the movement, the crisis caused several problems for their families and communities. The crisis changed how they look at the world and the economy. It was a crisis that came as if from nowhere, interrupting our teenage years and sending shockwaves reverberating around the world. On the news we saw worry and  110 confusion about debt overhangs, credit default swaps and sub-prime mortgages. It was a first glimpse for us into a whole new world and a strange rite of passage. (Earle et al., 2017, p.1) The 2008 crisis created an authentic need to study and understand the economy. Students were urged to understand it and transform it: “We felt that to understand and shape the world we needed to speak their (economists) language and that’s how we all ended up studying economics in the same year at the University of Manchester in 2011.” (Earle et al., 2017, p.2) Many economics students started their professional career because of the need to understand the crisis, what caused it and how to avoid forthcoming crises. Hence, according to the Guardian Weekly, applications to economics schools increased 15% in the year after the crisis (Brown, 2009).  In the crisis, students found a crucial setting to define themselves as part of “the generation that came of age in the maelstrom of the 2008 global financial crisis” (Earle et al., 2017). From the beginning and to the end, the precarious conditions created by the crisis were central to the identity of the movement and its members. This is illustrated by Cahal Moral, a student leader and founding member of the Post-Crash Economics Society, in talking about his motivations to study economics: “I wanted to study economics to make sense of this big issue – the financial crisis — which nobody really seemed to have foreseen, nobody really seemed to understand at the time” (Beard, 2018, para. 3). Nonetheless, for Cahal, as for many other students, to study economics became “increasingly disappointing and frustrating” because to begin with, “the financial crisis was not even a topic in the seminars, class materials or tutorial sessions” (Cahal, personal conversation).   111 Students’ motivation to create a movement came from the lack of connection between the reality that they wanted to address in economics and the actual content of the curriculum. Joe Earle, another member of the PCES, mentions this in an interview to BBC radio in March of 2016. The financial crash in 2008 was maybe the single biggest political event of my life, I wanted to understand it and wanted to understand why we didn’t seem to understand it and in the whole of the first year of our economic courses it was barley mention once.” (R. Jones, 2016) It was during their time in the university economics departments when students had to face the reality of economics education. Maeve Cohen, a student leader and chair of PCES, adds:  I find it completely inexcusable that the global financial crisis, four years after it happened, wasn’t mentioned in the core economics modules. It was absolutely unforgivable in my opinion… (Beard, 2018) As the consequences of the crisis worsened the economy it was harder to shut one’s eyes.  While we were memorizing and regurgitating abstract economic models for multiple choice exams, the Eurozone crisis was at its peak, with Greece and Italy on the brink of disaster. This wasn’t mentioned in our lectures and what we were learning didn’t seem to have any relevance to understanding it. The elephant in the room was hard to ignore. (Earle et al., 2017, p.2) Neoclassical economists, as the mainstream in economics, exercise hegemonic power within the discipline of economics determining what knowledge is worth knowing, what  112 content is taught and what topics remain removed from the economics curriculum. Students wondered about the reasons’ economics education was not about the crisis and dealing with the aftermath, as they expected. As the students who authored Econocracy put it, “what united us across different continents and languages was the shared feeling that there was a deep malaise at the heart of economics and that as a result we were being sold short as students and as citizens.” (Earle et al., 2017, p.2) Once in the university, students face a precarious corporate higher education system grounded on a banking model of transmission that situates students as empty vessels to be filled with knowledge and skills. Particularly in the field of economics the curriculum does not encourage students to engage in a pluralistic, autonomous and independent study of the economy. Student’s relationships with faculty and university representatives are frustrating as the university emphasizes a business model where students are treated as clients because they represent revenue. Feedback from student’s experiences in their programs matters to university only if it is in relation to the positions that the university obtains in consumer rankings. The public affairs of the relationship are an essential aspect of the consumer like relation instead of the betterment of meaningful pedagogical experiences. PCES students’ put it as follows: The decisions modern universities make about fee levels, student numbers, marketing and recruitment and research strategies mean that educational quality is neglected. As a result, many universities would find it difficult to improve the quality of economics education even if they tried. Successful university business models don’t aim to provide good-quality education; they aim to maximize student satisfaction, the institution’s place in the research rankings and applications from international  113 students. A combination of good levels of student satisfaction and research rankings secures a decent place in the league tables, which – combined with effective marketing and historically accumulated prestige – secures undergraduate applicants who bring in revenue. (Earle et al., 2017, p.106) The 2008 crisis was the students’ first motive to get organized. Their frustrations with economics education were followed by the complacency of a higher education system that showed itself unable to take action. At the same time, students’ relationship with economics and economic knowledge was becoming more conflicted. In Econocracy, students write:  … We can remember numerous occasions on which conversations have run dry when they have reached economics. … Someone asks, ‘Who do we owe all the money to?’ or states ‘We can’t do that because it will ruin the economy.’ There is a silence, shrugs all round and the conversation moves swiftly on… These situations leave us feeling uncomfortable. Having graduated now we are all keenly aware that our economics education has not equipped us with the knowledge or skills to justify any authority we are given. In fact, we were so frustrated with how little our education was helping us understand the world that midway through our second year at university we began a campaign to reform economics education. (p. 2-3)  Students’ agenda to pursue change in economics education found extensive resonance in national media and support from academics and interested people everywhere. Mainly in the media students found a platform to grow their movement. The stories in the media located the economics movement in the context of the 2008 crisis, thus the urgency to change economics education gained relevance not only for economists, it became a public issue. The context of the crisis seemed to help students to connect to everyday people outside their  114 discipline and communicated why a misleading curriculum affects not only students, but everyone.  The narratives about the crisis nurtured momentum in the economics movement. Henceforth, traditional media and social media played a key role to disseminate narratives and in the making the public image of the movement. Through the media, economics students as a movement gained international visibility and relevance to a broader public. In the case of the movement in economics departments, many international media sources were particularly keen to showcase the movement and give voice to students. For example, The Guardian (Inman, 2013b; Spicer, 2017) and The Financial Times (C. Jones, 2013, 2014) covered an important part of the reporting about students’ efforts to change economics at Manchester’s university.  Activists in the movement relied heavily on the media success to grow their movement. The crisis helped them to connect with people who identified themselves with the need to change the economy and economics education. The movement had extensive coverage in the UK media and their media exposure helped it to gain a global scope. The consequences of crisis spreading fast inspired a story of a “silver lining” for economics: … the intrigue and pain of the crisis has added to the lustre of economics as a discipline. This is reflected in the record number of applications to universities. This renewed interest, at grass roots level, offers the discipline a real opportunity; it is the silver lining to the dark cloud created by the financial crisis. But it is an opportunity that can only be seized if the grass roots are adequately fed and watered. And that is where the economics curriculum comes into the picture. (Earle et al., 2017)  115 In summary, the crisis was the setting in which the movement originated. It created the conditions to populate the movement and spawn an international network of students. In 2013, many student societies around the world were starting to consolidate similar campaigns in their universities, and by the end 2013 students were able to link societies and create an international network called Rethinking Economics. Later, similar networks created ISIPE – International Students Initiative for Pluralism in Economics that connected several organizations all across the globe.  The story of student activism in economics requires looking back at the effects of the crisis in 2008 and recalling economic and psychological consequences it brought, particularly to young students. Hopelessness, despair and frustration acted as the sparks to social action, especially after students realized that economics educations did not contemplate analysis and better understanding of the crisis and its effects. Economic models were highly abstract, mathematized and drastically separated from reality. In addition, the traditional banking model of transmission of knowledge that exists in higher education also created discouraged learning and engaging with knowledge. The context of the 2008 financial crisis awoke not only a genuine interest to study, understand and transform economics for the students in the movement. It also increased students’ awareness of the problems the discipline and the world face, and the challenges for new generations to rethink economic relationships and economics education.    116  4.2 Narrative Theme II: What is an economist anyway? If someone asked you to draw an economist, what would that drawing look like? A couple of years ago, students from Rethinking Economics ran an experiment in the United Kingdom and asked to 10 years old children to do just that. The results showed that economists, for the most part, are associated with white men wearing suits and surrounded by dollar symbols (See figures 5.2.1, 5.2.2, and 5.2.3). They have symbols of gold and money surrounding them. In their hands, they hold fancy suitcases or sticks that point to numbers in graphs (, 2016b).     117 Figure 4.1  A man holding a briefcase and surrounded by monetary symbols.   Note: Drawing taken from Cash-onomics. 'Drawings of economists' by 10-year-old children gathered by Ecnmy (2016a), Creative commons. Used with permission.  118 Figure 4.2  A man in a meeting pointing to a graph and surrounded by bills and pounds symbols.  Note: Drawing taken from Work-onomics. 'Drawings of economists' by 10-year-old children gathered by Ecnmy (2016a), Creative commons. Used with permission.    119 Figure 4.3  A man wearing a tie, thinking about money.  Note: Drawing taken from Dream-onomics. 'Drawings of economists' by 10-year-old children gathered by Ecnmy (2016), Creative commons. Used with permission. Yuan Yang studied at London School of Economics and is a student activist in the movement. She used several of the drawings from this research in a talk at Sussex University. The first image depicts an economist portrayed as a white male with dollar signs in his eyes. He is literally standing on top of the world while he wears a fancy black business suit and an elegant top hat. Another drawing shows a man wearing a monocle while he is carrying a briefcase and the last one is a male character whose bubble thoughts are dollar signs. With these drawings in front of her, Yuan Yang, who identifies as a non-white female student and activist, asks: “…if you are not just a white tall privileged man in a business suit  120 with a monocle and top hat then can you be an economist? And if not, then what does that leave the rest of us?” (Yang, 2015) As with many other students, Yuan does not identify herself professionally as an economist. Indeed, she prefers not to identify her profession in events or on her social media or work profiles, even though she has an undergraduate degree in philosophy and economics and a master’s degree in economics. She also has worked for different economics research institutions. However, she admits that sometimes she has a hard time and hesitates when people ask her what she is as professional and student.  Like Yuan, many students within the movement struggle with seeing themselves as economists. Within the spaces that activism opens up, they have manifested their struggle to find a place or an academic home in economics, a discipline that they believe has increasingly become myopic. In addition, they do not want to embrace a stereotyped label attached to be an economist without any serious introspection.  Two aspects contribute to reinforce a stereotype in the professional exercise of economics, the historical western male dominance in economic sciences and the relation the discipline maintains with economic and financial power. Yuan mentions that economics as a discipline barely interacts with other social sciences and the lack of diversity of perspectives on economics seems to be narrowing the possibilities for students to explore diversity of intellectual interests and it is limiting them and their discipline to achieve a better understanding of the world (Yuan cited in Riesman, 2013).  Ginna’s arguments about economics follow similar lines. She is another female activist and student leader in the UK movement who decided to drop out of economics after a couple of years study. She finished her undergraduate degree in political science instead of  121 economics. In 2019, Gina started a postgraduate degree in political and economic sociology. As Gina eagerly and defiantly says, “I never actually quit my interest in economics, but I kind of changed my academic home so I could actually research what I'm interested in.” She felt she had to change disciplines because of the topics she wanted to research: “I'm more interested in questions of social justice and feminist economics and I want to use a diverse range of methodologies to do so.” The limitations in the scope of research are, for Gina, inherent in economics education: “I can ironically do more interesting research about the economy and the real world within the field of politics than the field of economics.”  Gina’s research interests included an exploration of gender budgeting and the importance of the government’s budget for women and women’s needs. Gina prefers to identify herself as a social scientist, a sociologist and as a feminist. For her, rethinking economics and her activism created a particular spark of critical awareness and political consciousness regarding her role in society. She was also motivated to encourage other students and the community to be critically aware about the need of alternative economic thinking.  I personally think it would be nice to motivate people not only to make other students aware of the importance of alternative education, but to delve into themselves and to become heterodox researchers themselves. Motivate them to do a postgrad or PhD in an alternative topic and contribute to this really important not mainstream economics work. Because ultimately, we need to save humanity, the planet and society and economics as it is, it is not going to do that. JHughes, an economics student who finished his degree in economics in June 2018 at a Russell Group university in the North of England and works as a business analyst at The  122 Growth Company, tells a similar story. He draws attention to just how widespread the rejection of the economist stereotype is within the movement. He was one of the founding members of an important and prolific student group in England movement. One of his first reactions during the interview, when I referred to him as an economist and ask him about his plans now that he graduated, was to answer by refusing to be called an economist. He explained he has become cynical about the profession and felt he needed more formal training to be considered an economist. “I also have in many respects formal training to be considered an economist certainly not an academic economist. I’d like to watch economics from an outside perspective, and I don't want to consider myself as an economist.”   JHughes prefers to think about himself as a pedagogue. He wants his efforts in the movement to be more related to popular education and pedagogy, he cares about “integrating public awareness about economics, helping to make people aware of the lack of pluralism in economics and the many impacts it has in the daily lives of people.” In terms of being an economist he reiterates that he sees difficulties in articulating his personal interests with the discipline of economics. In this sense, his future was closer to activism than mainstream economics. The stories of these three students who deeply care about the economy and economic policy but find it problematic to identify themselves as economists are a common characteristic of students within the movement to rethink economics education. Although they care about social and economic issues, and they are interested in rigorous methodology and intellectual creativity in the understanding of the economy, they are not comfortable identifying themselves with the stereotype of economists. Rather, they prefer to analyze and study the economy and economic relations from outside of the field of economics itself. As  123 JHughes tells me, “it is quite common in the movement to find students that feel the same way as I do.” Yuan adds, “Economics as a formal institutionalized discipline is not the place where we want to learn and engage with knowledge to better understand the economy, rather it is the place where we feel limited by the discipline and frustrated” (Yuan in Riesman, 2013). The stereotype of the white male economist that embraces superiority, privilege and wealth, discourages students from identifying themselves as economists. None of these students are interested in being connected to that stereotype, but they consider themselves students and thinkers concerned about the economy and economic policy from an interdisciplinary broader social perspective. 4.3 Narrative Theme III: How would students like an economist to be?  The citizen economist is a compound character who appears in the movement’s narratives, campaigning material, tactics of contention and in the publications of the movement. This character emerges as a concerned citizen. Many of its concerns are regarding the economy and how economics knowledge and mainstream economics are affecting all aspects of daily life. This character lived through the crisis in 2008 and experienced its consequences. The citizen economist knows how much of responsibility mainstream economics had in creating the 2008 economic crisis. And it flourishes by wondering, would people be able to do something about economics education if they knew what was happening and the relationships between neoclassical economic theory and the crisis?  Key ideas behind the citizen economist started to take form in 2012. PCES students started developing strategies to democratize economics knowledge. As Cahal puts it, their  124 question initially was how to persuade people to join? The idea of a citizen economist is grounded in questions about how economics could be accessible and understandable for most of the people, and why this is important. In Cahal’s words,  What I found is that it is really enough to speak to people who are willing to be persuaded because you know there's some people who aren't. They are so stuck in their ways that they're not willing to be persuaded. And you know what. There's nothing I can do about that, so I'm not going to try and persuade most people. You can't persuade the academics in your department, but you can persuade people from the media. You can persuade key policy makers from institutions like the Bank of England. That's how you start to gradually effect change… having a clearer idea of how things actually work and how they could work with you.  A democratic and informed exercise of citizenship requires a degree of understanding of the economy. Economics knowledge is barely accessible to most people, nonetheless it is affecting everyone’s life. Economics, as it is, is limiting citizenship. As students put it, “economics underpins a technocratic system that marginalises citizens and restricts their ability to engage with economic issues” (Earle et al., 2017). Policy makers base their measures and programs on economics models that people cannot understand. If citizens do not understand how economics reforms affect them, they will not be able to fight against such policies and reforms.  The inadequacy of the discipline of economics field to provide knowledge to the everyday citizen is translated to detachment, powerlessness and helplessness; feelings that are close to any non-mainstream economist embracing economic debates. For students, it seems that “citizens increasingly live in a world that they cannot shape” (Earle et al., 2017).  125 The economic crisis in 2008 affected everyone and was stoppable but it was presented as unavoidable. The matters of the economy influence everyone, but economics knowledge is left to the experts. The status quo in economics represents a danger for the future of the planet, the economy and humanity.  The citizen economist, on the other hand, represented an ideal of society and the kind of interactions that economics should have in a democracy. As students in the movement describe them, they are individuals who have:  … the basic knowledge, confidence and interest to engage critically with economic discourse in politics, the news and their local communities. Citizen Economists are able to see the links between their individual circumstances and the operation of the economy on a systemic level. They are able to engage with economic statements and narratives made by politicians, economists and media commentators about the performance of the economy and evaluate the values and assumptions behind their arguments. (Earle et al., 2017) PCES involvement in the movement incorporates an authentic effort to promote self-education and popular education for the general community. For students, economics education is necessary and should not mean the same as professional training in economics. Education should be around citizens’ needs to contribute to a free and democratic society where individuals are able to think about the economy independently, have reasoned and informed judgements, and make decisions (Earle et al., 2017). PCES activists have developed the idea that citizens need to take a more active part in the economic decisions institutions and governments make on their behalf. Therefore, there is a need to educate, and cultivate public awareness and democratic debate about why economic policymaking matters  126 and why people should be involved in deciding and evaluating how the economy is being managed. For PCES students:  A society of Citizen Economists is one in which individuals have more understanding and thus control over their circumstances. It is a society where there are always alternatives and all of society plays an active role in proposing, debating and scrutinizing them, ultimately deciding collectively and individually which paths to take. (Earle et al., 2017) For students at PCES, the relationship between activism in economics and democratic citizenship is materialized in the citizen economist. As Cahal, Maeve, and Joe Earl argue, democracy is undermined by the way in which economics is taught in schools and citizens cannot actively participate in political and economic debate unless someone does something to close the knowledge gap. Student activism in economics and students in the movement should offer solutions and understand their pedagogical role as economists and students acting in relation to their role as citizens contributing to a democracy. The citizen economist represents the form of activism that students have chosen, and it is in direct relationship to a pedagogical role in achieving social justice.  Students in the movement embrace active citizenship as a goal for their pedagogical framework. From their perspective, to study the economy or economics implies an awareness of how economics reproduces social injustices and an interest in helping others and the environment. For example, they argue:  What is taught and discussed in the economic courses of our universities shapes the mind of the next generation of decision-makers, and therefore partly shapes the societies we live in. And there is the problem: The way that economics is taught and  127 practiced in schools, universities and policy-making institutions does not challenge any of these dogmas or more so address any of these problems: it is actually quite the opposite. (Weinhold, 2017) The citizen economist as an idea has grown progressively as students embrace their pedagogical role through the development of prefigurative social action. Since 2015, PCES students have been working to expand their influence and relevance towards making economics accessible to everyone.  In 2015, the PCES launched crash course pilot titled Community Crash-Course in Citizen Economics. The audience of the class was adults from different disciplines and backgrounds. “We want our workshops to help improve everyone’s understanding around economics, empowering every citizen to engage in decisions that affect their lives.” (  PCES students embraced citizenship and their pedagogical role by facilitating educational spaces where everyday people could access questions such as ‘what is economics?, why there is poverty and inequality in the world?, and other real world relevant economics questions that matter to them (e.g., what are taxes?, how do they work?, how does the banking system work?, how does debt behave?).  For students in economics, the high demand for the 2015 crash-course in their community was the first step in the development of the relationship between activism and pedagogy. PCES students incorporated the public in their social action, strategies and tactics.  In April of 2016 students held a conference titled Why Economics is for Everyone. This conference was open to the public and advertised outside from academia. Sessions were organised into five themes: The Future of the North, Economics and Politics, Crash-Course  128 in Citizen Economics, Faith, Spirituality and Economics, and Conversations Across Borders. (Beckett & Lait, 2020) As students reflect, their own practice in the conference needed to change. They were aware of the need to rethink the lecture format and instead involve horizontal pedagogical formats (such as workshops, roundtables, etc.) that engage people and provoke critical thinking and independent judgement. “The event aimed to challenge the traditional approach to an academic conference by promoting interactivity between attendees and speakers” (Beckett & Lait, 2020) For students’ activists the message they want people to understand is that the economy should be about “seven billion people’s stories, experiences and choices” and not about overcomplicated modeling and inaccessible jargon. They want to overthrow the idea that “there is not alternative” and work towards people’s active participation actively in democracy. Students in economics explain this component of their pedagogical role as activists as follows:  Citizen Economics isn’t about gaining an elaborate knowledge of abstract theory (neoclassical or otherwise); it is about trying to make connections between peoples’ lived experience and economic circumstances on the one hand, and the economy on a systemic level on the other. (p. 157) In summary, the citizen economist is a character that encompasses many efforts, strategies and tactics that students in the movement are creating. The citizen economist is supported by the idea that economics should be democratized, and citizens should have the knowledge to make informed decisions about the future of the economy. The principle is that economics should be comprehensible, and its language and models should be accessible to everyone so most of the people understand what is behind decisions taken on their behalf. In  129 other words, people should understand the assumptions on which economic policies are based and the consequences that neoclassical economics might have in everyone’s future. A true exercise of citizenship entails a degree of knowledge about the economy and the logics that govern economic relationships.  4.4 Narrative Theme IV: How do students resist? From “I prefer to pick my battles” to “I admit that in part I just wanted to fuck with these people”? I made a trip to the United Kingdom seeking to understand more about how economics students are resisting inside the halls of academia. As soon as I landed in England, I went to the universities to speak with some leading activists in the organizations that are part of the international movement to change economics education. As I walked into the economics department at a prestigious university in the north of England, I could not find any evidence of visual repertoires of the movement. Visitors walking by the hallways would not notice the resistance efforts of students. In the halls, most of the walls were well painted and just very few designated zones had posters. Those posters were basically invitations to future events and conferences, but they were not related to the movement or to organizations challenging economics education. For the most part, walls were clean, and classrooms looked organized. The building was quiet, there was mostly silence. Classrooms were set up and designed either for conferences or lectures, massive sessions attended by hundreds of students. There were also some small meeting rooms where tutorials take place. I did not find blockades, neither pamphlets nor any other visual artifact promoting the movement.  By contrast, in Latin American’ universities students protests are particularly visual. There is graffiti, posters and pamphlets all around campus. The contrasts were salient. I was  130 expecting to find at least a few pieces of visual material about the movement and their campaign around campus, however it was not the case. My expectations were created from reading about the student movement in newspapers, blogs and social media for months. The media gives the impression of passionate and exciting deliberations, philosophical and academic arguments and debates happening inside the economics departments. As I walked by the building to meet some students for the interview, I wondered, what do the repertoires of contention look like and how do direct actions feel for students campaigning for curricular reform in economics? Is there direct action happening in the classrooms, or is it in the tutorials where most of the heated debate regarding the lack of pluralism goes on? And how do students in economics live direct action?  For Gina, contentious actions were a struggle:  I was the one student that was always making trouble, like half the econ department knew me and tried to avoid me. Luckily, I'm aware there was anonymous marking. So, I knew this wouldn't impact my final results. And as long as I do fine the whole math stuff, which fortunately, I was quite good at, I was kind of saved from that personal hatred. Cahal experienced a rather smoother approach to contention than Gina’s.  I tried to pick my battles and I usually, to this day, I wait and if somebody asks me about it in the department and then I talk about it. Other than that, I won't bring it up. But not everybody is like me.  Betty and Sally’s experiences are similar, they were based on collaboration and co-construction between faculty and students. However, Betty explains the importance of  131 strategic collaboration with faculty and the department as direct action. While Sally problematizes Betty’s optimism. Betty narrates:  I would like to say that I have a really good relationship with the economics department. I think that this does have to be a collaborative effort. I am aware of the allies in the department and the people that aren’t on our side. In my experience the later tend to stay away from me rather than telling me off anyhow.  And Sally reflects about some of the reasons why they may look collaborative but real change has not been materialized in their curriculum:  they don’t really understand what we actually do. Obviously, they're really happy that students are engaged, and I put on events and invite world renown academics. I mean, I think certainly they are happy about that. But I just don't think they want you to get really involved in the actual curriculum. I mean, even a lot of professors support the events we put on. It's like, yes sure, why not, you guys have a discussion on that. But you know we're not going to include any of your conclusions in the actual curriculum. JHughes was a student member of the Curriculum Advisory Committee. His experience involving direct action was mainly in official meetings. He tells about how the university administration involves students and how students are simply ignored.  The department responses to our campaign were a little bit more: “we don’t think you have a very sound point.” I’m paraphrasing but they were kind of reluctant to engage in a discussion, more incline to just pass off what we said. You know, most of the time, to ignore is much easier to do for them.  132 JHughes, who tells me that sadly, but not surprisingly, formal classes are not the spaces for heated and passionate debate and contention. During the interview, he describes the engagement in debate: The lectures themselves, some of them are very big which negates engagement … no one wants to put the hand up in a room of 1250 people and ask a question… it is difficult to go against the lecturer, you know, even if you are right about things you sound wrong because people would be more incline to believe in the authority in the room than a student. Lectures intimidate students and tutorials were in charge of PhD students who prefer not to engage in debates about theories and models. In JHughes’ experience, doctoral students are not interested in talking to students about the theoretical and philosophical debate behind the models. In most of the cases, he says: They have their problem set that they want to go through, and it would be very surprising if at the end of the problem set a student put a hand up and said can we have a discussion or debate about his point, or can we elaborate on this, you know. Lastly, in curriculum department meetings, students were treated as neophytes, inexperienced or uninformed of how economics, the university and the higher education system work. JHughes experienced several pushes back from his department to a report he and other students presented on how to change economics at his university. He explains:  I think one of the explanations for the push back is feeling that because we are students, we don’t understand what is hot in economics, what actually is worth knowing about. And also, that we don’t know about administrative stuff. It means,  133 how courses get put on to the university, how courses get credit numbers, how courses get credited at universities after bringing lectures. In the department meetings, he explains to me, “there was always the idea that students do not really understand enough about the way the university functions on an administrative level.” Therefore, the documents that students sent to the department proposing specific changes to the curriculum, including changes to the assessment methods or changes that imply additional seminars, were considered simply not feasible. JHughes saw the departments as the problem, their unwillingness to engage with students and for the most part to disregard their proposals.  Gina’s relationship with direct action was different than JHughes’s. Her experiences with the economics department were harsh and disciplinary. From the beginning of her studies at university, Gina was an active student who constantly participated, sharing thoughts and opinions during classes. However, Gina experienced persistent pressure from faculty to slow down her questions particularly on topics that challenge the status quo and promoted alternative economic approaches. Gina was asked to restrain her curiosity and to stop asking what professors understood as provoking questions. In a way, she was seeking to incite and disrupt, and she used questioning as form of contention. As she describes it, the relationship she had with some faculty members was “difficult,” and she felt she had to “endure harassment and personal hatred.” For example, Gina describes one occasion when in her economics class, the head of the department, who was one of her lecturers at the time, conducted a Q&A session with her and other students.  He looked directly at me and more or less said: “I would be holding extra office hours for any relevant question, and I mean really relevant questions and not unrelated,  134 nonsense questions that quite frankly I'm not paid to answer.” In the classroom, everyone knew that the comment was directed to me. Although he did not say my name, everyone turned their heads towards me and looked straight to me since I was the one who often asked questions. The exercise of discipline was evident. The lecturer’s power to indirectly comment on Gina’s questioning was backed by the disciplinary and institutional power that comes from being both an expert in economics and an examiner of the students. For Gina, the consequence of these responses from faculty members brought a desire to become more irreverent. “I used questioning to make my point evident.” Interrupting classes to ask questions was one of her main repertoires of contention. “I questioned lecturers and brought up issues during the sessions because I was authentically curious.” It seems that she genuinely wanted to know and better understand what was being taught. In her words, “I tried not to be rude or arrogant because I was actually wondering and interested.” However, after many episodes of tension and confrontation between her and faculty members, and after dealing with the response from lecturers to her questioning, the source of her actions became less due to authentic curiosity and was more an act of sabotage, “a sort of micro-rebellion” as she called it. The negative reaction from faculty to her questioning endorsed her behavior as a valid form of direct action. She describes it, questioning became an “authentic need to disrupt the space.” The use of inquisitive commentaries met her objective to sarcastically show everyone the elephant in the room.  Gina’s passion to learn and understand economic models and her willingness to change economics education was just kicking in. Early on in her studies she decided to create a small Marxist reading group that grew to become a Marxist interdisciplinary student  135 society. A year later the group had student members from several faculties and schools in the university. They joined Rethinking Economics to become members of a network to collaborate with the growing number of student organizations across the United Kingdom interested in promoting change in economics education. Gina and the group volunteered to organize an alternative economics conference at their university. Gina was leading the initiative and offered herself as a volunteer. After being identify by her lecturers as unqualified to ask critical questions, marginalized by classmates, and disenchanted with her education she decided to disrupt the department space by using it as the space where alternative academic discourses can take place and freely circulate in an event. This alternative conference was the event, it needed space, time and resources from the econ department and the university to take place. The same university that was repressing alternative and pluralistic views of economics is going to be the place and platform from people to hear academics that represent such alternative schools of thinking.  One of her motivations to offer the space of her econ department as the scenario where the alternative economics conference would take place, as she puts it, was to generate annoyance. In her words: “I will admit that part of my motivation was just to fuck with these people. I realized faculty did not like it and the department head will not approve or promote the event.” Both reasons were powerful motivations for her. She put extra effort into making the conference popular before she transferred to the political science department. When the conference took place, the large attendance numbers at the inaugural session obliged the head of the department to welcome everyone. Gina remembers:  It was that same guy who hates me so passionately … he was giving this opening talk about how nice it is to have a pluralistic event. Very clearly, he was not meaning it,  136 but he still said it…. It feels nice, and the whole conference was a huge success. I’m very happy.  In a city in the south of England, Betty, an economics student in her final year of study, described her experience in the economics department as a collaborative journey. She chaired of a recently organized student group. For Betty, the motivation to join the movement comes from her belief that “activism is key in the transformation of society.” As she says, “activism shapes and reshapes the social.” For Betty, “social transformation starts by constantly asking why things are the way they are,” in other words activism starts by increasing consciousness and awareness. The economics department at Betty’s university is small and part of a business school. From her perspective, the head and executive directors of the school and some faculty members seemed fairly open to pluralism. As an example, “once a lecturer collected written requests from the students demanding a more pluralistic curriculum and went to the head of the department and said to her and other professors that students were publicly questioning the curriculum.” She quotes her professor urging other faculty members to take action, “the professor said: here I have all their requests, what could we do?” She continues the story by saying, “faculty members are for the most part supportive, and they encourage us to critically engage in our education and actively participate in the evaluation and reform of the curriculum.” For Betty, “the fact that we, as students are publicly voicing our demands about the program should be enough to justify the need for change.” Betty asserts that if someone wants to change the world and economics education, “that someone just needs to start talking to fellow students, sympathetic lecturers, and little by little the university will have a movement.” In her opinion, “changes in economics  137 education would likely start outside the classrooms and grow progressively.” In other words, the space to build the movement for her is not inside the spaces taken by formal institutionalized education such as the lectures and tutorials. Betty reaffirms what JHughes and Gina said, students do not find their classrooms spaces enable them to have an authentic deliberation. Even in some cases, the university’s formal settings inhibit them in their wondering and curiosity. Thus, it is at the margins where students find places to have critical conversations and debates.  Sally, an economics student that I met at London, presents a different side of the story and recalls how faculty often attended events about pluralist economics and when they leave, they said “the events were fun,” but then she adds, “I am aware of the allies in the department and the people that aren’t on our side.” Sally, like Betty, seemed enthusiastic about student activism and about the fruitful and collaborative relationship between students and the department. However, despite the apparent receptiveness from the department to the conferences, their attendance at events and the questioning from students, there is a lack of real change in how economics is taught at her university.  I would like to say that I have a really good relationship with the economics department … there is still, I think a little bit of a pushback in many respects. Even though they could potentially do a lot of the things that we want, they don't do it anyway.  Regarding the campaign to change economics education at her university, Sally has not experienced major push back to the movement from her department. So far, the economics pluralism society was able to move forward most of their projects to evaluate the  138 program. In June 2018, students issued a report with suggestions on reforming the curriculum. Among the suggestions the following stand out: • Include reading material about heterodox schools of economic thought  • Improve the quality of tutorial sessions by providing students with the space to discuss and deliberate economic concepts • Provide opportunities for students during tutorials to ask questions and revisit mathematical methods and economics concepts • Create seminars about theoretical aspects of economics. • Incentivize the participation of students in curriculum planning and evaluation  • Encourage the use of essays as a form of assessment  • Support conferences and events about real world economic issues   Sally thinks the report has given “credibility to the student organization,” but she adds “I still do not know how much the department is going to do to accommodate our suggestions.” “They looked very happy to see such level of student engagement.” Nonetheless, as she continued with her reflection, she felt maybe they are happy with the student’s engagement because “they do not see us as a challenge yet.”  They do not really understand what we are asking for, they care more about the MBA and the business curriculum. They support us but not at the point that they will dare to have pluralism or even more so a heterodox economic curriculum.  At the University of Manchester, where the PCES started, the most exciting discussions and debates regarding the lack of pluralism in mainstream economics took place  139 at meetings and academic events organized by students outside of formal classes. For instance, Cahal explains: “a big part of the experience of doing activism in economics has to do with students’ meetings outside classrooms in their spare time.” In addition, Cahal recalls: in rare occasions we found ourselves pointed out in classes or getting verbal recognition from lectures. On occasion some lecturers would briefly acknowledge the campaign to change economics education and the debate about the lack of pluralism in the curriculum in social media and in the newspapers. Maybe once or twice one of the lecturers asked if someone from the student organization was in the room. In many of the cases there were students from the society, but we prefer not to engage in theoretical debates with the lecturer in front of the class.  In very few cases members of PCES used the classrooms as spaces for contentious action. Talking more about the reasons why it was difficult to students to engage in debates, Cahal explains “that the large size of the classrooms and the setting of the lectures, where students are placed against as authority figure are some of the reasons.” The classroom setups play a role in how students feel disempowered and unable to engage in theoretical or ideological discussions against lecturers and faculty members. Besides the settings, there is also the relationship of authority between students and academics. To make his point clear, Cahal tells me the following story: some of the post-crash students went to have a meeting with the lecturer and the results were sort of mixed. Students were challenged by the professor to handle mathematical exercises that require a deeper knowledge of the models and a mathematical expertise they do not have at an undergrad level.   140 Cahal reflects, “the problem is about authority and the subtle ways authority is exercised in academia.” His lesson from that day was: “if you want to speak to an experienced professor about the ideology behind a model then you have to understand the math as well, because as you speak up, they will blind you with jargon and more complicated models.”  Direct action in curriculum activism takes different forms and needs to be taken cautiously because it involves the many ways intellectual, academic and institutional authority is exercised in academia. As Cahal admits, sometimes activism in the curriculum is too much pressure for an undergrad student: “as a student it becomes exhausting to be in the position to constantly and actively challenge everything that is taught in economics.”  4.5 Narrative Theme V: Do students have the right to demand curriculum change? Maeve is a final year economics student at the University of Manchester and chair of the PCES. In 2014, in a student conference, she started her speech by recalling the following question:  “What gives you the right as students who’ve been studying this for a couple of months to tell me, an academic who’s been studying this for decades, what I should be teaching you?” (Cohen, 2014) For Maeve, despite the historical hierarchical organization of academic disciplines and universities, students should have the right to make demands and ask university’s departments to reform the curriculum. However, their claims over the curriculum should not be given validity by a consumerist approach to education. She says:  141 I think it really is a really good question and it's one that deserves quite a lot of thought. And I think there's several reasons why we as students do have a right to make demands on our academics. None of these is because I am paying nine grand a year. I think that's a really flimsy argument. ...So, it's nothing to do with us. (Cohen, 2014) Maeve asserts that she does not think about the university as her service provider or think of herself as a customer and clarifies that her claim has nothing to do with the fact that contemporary universities tend to see students as their clients. She develops the argument by saying that if students cannot approach change in their curriculum, then, the so called student centeredness in the university is an empty concept because there is not a real responsiveness to students’ needs and aspirations. Then, student’s right to challenge academics and demand change is not given by the tuition they annually have to pay to the institutions, but rather to the urgent need that students have to become agents of social and economic transformation in their communities. Maeve adds, I think we can bring different perspectives because we haven't been studying this stuff for decades. We're a lot more open to change. We are a lot more open minded… Certainly lots of economic students also study different disciplines under the graduate degree and they can bring the lessons from political philosophy (...) And another reason why I think that we have a lot to offer students is that the economic context in which we've sort of formed and developed our economic ideas is completely different. I mean we saw in these graphs that there was a very long stable period in the instability graph. I mean a lot of our academics studied economics and mastered economics during that period (…) Then all of a sudden this massive crash happened,  142 and this is the world that we've been brought up and this is the world that we see, and we are so dissatisfied as a society. (Cohen, 2014) Maeve is suggesting that the transformations the world has suffered during the last decades is one of the reasons why students need to actively participate in defining what knowledge is worth learning. She invited students to reflect on how the economic reality of the world has changed and new challenges have appeared. In this case, students have the right to look upon and reinterpret the knowledge presented to them. They will become economists one day and are going to be held responsible for economic policy decisions and recommendations. As a consequence of the role economists have to play making decisions and their responsibility those decisions entail, students have the right to demand that the university allow them to participate in the actualization of knowledge in the curriculum (Cohen, 2014).  Maeve’s argument suggests that the economic context in which students are developing their ideas somehow differs from the one lived by the economists mentioned in mainstream textbooks and the ones in charge of defining the curricular content. This generation experienced a massive economic crash and the imminent arrival of an environmental catastrophe. Mainstream economics does not have the answers to the troubles that this generation is facing, and students are dissatisfied and asking for a real change in the curriculum. In her words, Maeve says: “academics have studied economics and mastered economics during a period were economics was pretty impressive. Economics seemed to have all the answers,” as she says, “Economics was like cooking on gas and doing really well” (Cohen, 2014). From her point of view, nowadays this is no longer the case and  143 economics has limited students’ understandings. As a consequence, students have the right to demand change and demand to be a participant in the curriculum design.  Indeed, as Maeve argues, one of the more fundamental justifications that students have for challenging professors and departments has to do with the questions: what kind of economists do students want to become? And what kind of economy do students want to shape.  Maeve develops her argument as follows:  … the way neoclassical economics has been taught certainly to me at Manchester and I have reason to believe on a much wider level. It’s presented to us as a value neutral science and it is not a value neutral science. It's a value laden theory of how people behave and there’s a lot of things that we can learn from it and it’s very useful in a lot of ways, but it’s not science and these are not universal truths about human behavior…. The sort of methodology that I’ve been taught is based on an individual agent and he is optimizing either profit or utility in perfectly competitive markets and I’m working towards that equilibrium and there are lots of values in this methodology: the individual over the collective, optimization of an individual's utility over the promotion of social goods, competition over cooperation. That’s not to say that these things are not included, they are included in neoclassical economics, but they are secondary in the methodological framework. This is not the only way to model a society. If we want to live in a society that values different things or values more things such as equality of opportunity, sustainability, environmental sustainability, then we need to reflect this in our economics education. We need to demand change. (Cohen, 2014)  144 In summary, for Maeve, students have the right to challenge their curriculum because it does not respond to the needs, the context, and the problems that students are facing. The gaps between the real economy and the capacity of current mainstream economics education to answer and offer solutions are prominent. However, the struggle to change economics education is a difficult one for students to win. Historically, disciplines and academics have the authority to define what knowledge is of the most worth. As Osborne (2015) argues even from the semantics of the word ‘discipline,’ it relates to the word disciple in the context of the master and pupil relationship. Grant (1997) explains that disciplines by themselves have an ambiguity, since the term refers to both the distinct and bordered forms of knowledge hierarchically organized in intellectual, scholarly and scientific associations and to the action of bringing about obedience. Disciplines represent the organizational mechanism in which academia and scientists have decided to present knowledge and organize themselves. Members of academic and professional communities (including scholarly journals, textbook publishers, and editors) see themselves as representatives of a discipline and act as gatekeepers, who determine criteria of access and quality of valid knowledge.  In the pedagogical relationship there are many ways in which intellectual and academic authority is asserted. When students challenge economics education it can be interpreted as an invitation to an open dialogue, as they let people know in the introduction of their textbook Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics. They say, “… we invite you to disagree, to doubt and dissent and to engage in an open debate about economics” (Fischer et al., 2017). For Cahal, also an economics student at Manchester, the movement and the campaign for curriculum reform is making the discipline stronger because  145 both sciences and philosophy are strengthened by questioning and by discussion. Nonetheless, as he says, to make change is really difficult because:  we should have maybe more assessment types like not just multiple-choice questionnaires, more essays, students’ presentations and stuff like that. However, to get them [professors] to teach things that basically they don't believe in it is obviously very difficult. Partly because they disagree with them. Partly because they don't actually know anything about them. So, you know, even if they wanted to, they probably wouldn't be able to do it because they haven't been trained in that type of economics. That's been a real sticking point for curriculum reform. The process itself has been frustrating and exhausting, as Cahal recalls. Economics professors often reference more and more complicated models when they are questioned. The way that economists use authority in an argument is through models and sophisticated mathematics. Cahal reflects that the use of models and sophisticated mathematics parallel the use of jargon and theory filled arguments in social sciences and humanities. Regularly, this exercise of authority sits beyond of the comfort zone of undergraduate students very quickly and becomes frustrating and exhausting for them. Cahal argues, “sometimes the models that academics reference has 100 parameters and it requires specialized software months to run. Economists will deliberately or otherwise try to take the debate into an advanced round of modelling and before you know it you are discussing variables and parameters.” And he adds, “what we want to put into a utility function or how to know the best algorithm for maximizing some mathematical problem and that was not necessarily their point.” Cahal disappointedly concludes, “we do not want more complicated models, we are not interested in more complicated models.” Students have all the dynamics of the institutionalized  146 hierarchical academia working against them. In addition, the exercise of authority is prolonged to the point where students fear that if they engage with PCES then they would build up a bad reputation and be penalized by professors for ideological reasons. As Cahal suggests, the level of academic knowledge required to debate with lecturers makes the PCES seem “a bit overtly academic and scary among economics students.” The movement is in a situation where they need to define how to handle recruitment and the level of debate without scaring students. Activists are choosing between welcoming the majority of students in the movement and gaining relevance by numbers and only aiming to integrate those students who are academically interested in a high level of academic rigour in the discussions and debates even when they are just starting their careers.  Students who want to challenge their professors and ask for a more pluralist approach feel the pressure to master neoclassical economics models and master the mathematics behind them before they feel ready to criticize them. In addition, it is difficult for economics professors to teach what they do not know much about. As Cahal argues: It's, it's extremely difficult to get any sort of changes. Which is why rethinking economics started to produce some resources themselves like the pluralist reader to try and help people. I've had discussions with individual lecturers, or I've said right here some papers I think you could incorporate .... and one of the lecturers has actually invited me to do a lecture on his first-year module next year about pluralist economics. So, there's some progress but they are very reluctant and unable to embrace pluralism as much as we would like.  147 The ways authority is asserted in academia plus the traditional learning environment at universities create a rather hostile environment for students and often dissuades activists from participation even when their commitment to the cause is strong. 4.6 Narrative Theme VI: How and what do students teach themselves?  In June of 2018 a group of economics students at a university in northeast England wrote a report outlining changes they want in their economics degree program. Sally is one of those students and at that time she was the chair of the society. Sally and other members of her society decided to conduct an evaluation of the economics program and write a report because they hoped it would open up possibilities for debate and make visible much of the academic work they were doing as student society. During the interviews, Sally as well as other students’ activists spoke at length about their efforts to conduct an evaluation and were excited and proud of their final reports. Similar, to many other published materials created by students in the movement, such as the textbook Rethinking Economics: An Introduction to Pluralist Economics, reports act as an invitation to the department to take their campaign seriously. Students put effort into the task to rethink the curriculum and engage in evaluation of their programs and rethinking what kind of economics education is needed from their point of view.  We expended a lot of our time and effort to coordinate and define the evaluation criteria, the structure and the methodology. We practically engaged in a thorough evaluation of every course subject in the program, even the recommended bibliography and assessment methods.   148 As Sally recalls, they had to learn how to do an evaluative report; as many other societies within the movement, Sally’s was eager to engage in the evaluative effort that put something concrete in the table. Students taught themselves ways to do this and learned from each other. For Sally, the time seemed more than appropriate for doing an extensive and exhaustive evaluation since her program had not been reviewed by the university in almost a decade. After writing the report, she recognized that students now have an important knowledge about their own education that gives them more credibility and authority to demand change. This authority is legitimized by the capacity that students have to argue and use evidence to support their claims. They know how their program is structured, and they can speak loud and clear about the shortcomings and strengths of the program. In Sally’s words: … the economics people were skeptical. Basically, I think by making this report we gain more credibility. Professors now know who we are because we gave it [the report] to all the professors in the room So they've been reading it and will give us feedback. I think that now they are reading our report and at least they will think about what we've written in our report. However, I don't know how much they're gonna include in the actual curriculum reform. Evaluation reports have served as instruments to give visibility to the need to reform the economics curriculum. A number of the evaluation reports are published online and circulate broadly through social media (seem for example, PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014; Schmalz et al., 2016). The motivation for students to engage in extensive evaluations of their programs has been rather commendable, as Sally suggests “it is a tedious  149 work that needs to be done”  and “ it requires the commitment of individuals” who, as she says, “really believe in the movement.”  The level of engagement, interest and commitment that students bring to the movement creates a rich teaching and learning environment and a vibrant community of students who care about changing economics education. This engagement is authentic and goes beyond the immediate grade, the need for a job, a certificate or a benefit attached to the neoliberal logic of learning. Maeve, a PCES activist, proudly recognizes: We produced a report on Manchester economics department, and I think it's a really important thing to do because we've looked at the way the undergraduate and syllabus is structured. We’ve offered some reasons why we don't think that it's good enough and we've offered some reasons why we think the status quo has come to pass. We've looked at some of the very real constraints on universities and in their teaching and syllabuses and then we've offered in some ways that we feel that they could overcome these constraints. We presented it to the Parliament, and we've had some excellent feedback. (Cohen,2014)      Economics students took the time to learn methods to better understand their institutions. They found space to critically reflect about their programs, evaluate them and articulate what needed to change with economics knowledge, pedagogy, assessment and instructional materials. As Maeve declares, students found strategies to teach themselves alternative economics at the margins of their formal education. Besides engaging in evaluative efforts and teach each other how to be an activist, they were learning by doing. They learn by writing supplementary instructional material (e.g. Fischer et al., 2017) where  150 they explore and learn a diversity of perspectives on economics and broadcast how an introductory economics course should be from their point of view. They do both, they learn and teach by writing materials to introduce fellow students to alternative pluralist views of economics. In their book, students inside and outside the movement can learn about a plurality of theories and models that mainstream introductory material about formal economics is lacking.  Besides developing instructional materials, in the context of the movement, students also produced and directed a variety of multimedia initiatives such documentaries, films, videoclips, books, textbooks, webpages, blogs, and public performances. All of these have been developed to explain in effective and simple ways what is wrong with economics and offer a brief summary of some alternative approaches to economics education.  In the movement, students have examined the history of economic thought and learn how mainstream economics became hegemonic at the expense of other approaches. From the beginning student organizations promoted self-education and created spaces such as seminar series expecting the participation from newcomers who have just started studying economics. The stories and experiences told by Cahal, Gina, and Betty in narrative theme IV show a similar relation to knowledge and pedagogy in their movement. All of them value opportunities to learn and unlearn that they found in the spaces that the movement created, appropriated, reclaimed and demanded.  Furthermore, students also learn to be an activist and they help each other, as Cahal’s quote shows. Learning started in dissent from reading and discussion groups that slowly became an intrinsic part of the movement. Students teach each other how to recruit members into the movement, how to handle media, manage social media, lobby and raise funds.  151 Students teach and learn from each other about how to sustain a solid and grounded intellectual debate with a group of academic economists rather stubborn in their approach.  Talking to Cahal at the University of Manchester about learning in social action he describes learning and organizing in the economics movement as “an out of classroom experience.” Students see effective spaces to create and share knowledge as separated from the institutional setting. Cahal asserts that “developing such valuable spaces was organic to the movement” for the most part, and it was not difficult or challenging to set up the spaces. Indeed, the need to link the movement to everyday people, making an effort towards popular education by trying to involve non-economists and non-academics was also organic as they understood that this connection with the real world was the seed towards building a real alternative economics education in praxis. Organizing inside the university facilitates the access to space and time. Students have the privilege to access resources that other social organizations do not have. Universities facilitate space to meet, rooms to gather, books to read, professors to guide their studies. These opportunities help the movement to grow and also to embrace study, learning and sharing knowledge. Reading groups were the meeting spots where the movement started, and other spaces that contributed to the movement were conferences, tutoring sessions, and study groups.  For some students at PCES the undergrad experience is rather easy since they do not find themselves intellectually challenged, while others find their time at the university a bit more difficult. The alternative spaces where students help each other are particularly helpful in both cases. For example, Cahal describes his experience as an undergraduate student as “rather easy, barely stimulating and therefore boring and frustrating.” For him, organizing learning spaces to share knowledge was a truly motivating and intellectually engaging  152 experience. Sharing and openly discussing with other students, he emphasized, was a usual and even quite predictable thing to do for the members of the movement in an informal setting, because students are constantly talking to avoid feeling isolated and alone in the world of economics and to avoid being devoured by abstract theory. The problem was to find dialogue and openness in formal education where the discipline was rigid and resistant to any challenge. In daily student life, students find in the reading groups and student groups a much-needed space to share their feelings of disappointment and frustration with their economics education.  Cahal started reading books outside of mainstream economics, which he later would share with his friends in the reading group. And at the end, he admits that the most interesting intellectual experiences of his undergraduate degree came outside of classrooms and when he found other students to share and discuss beyond the formal economics curriculum. As Cahal mentions, “the role of self-education in activism while you are student in an economics degree is a big part of what means to be activist.” And he adds, “… we had like a reading group where we discussed, you know, different ways of approaching economics. It was a big part of our original campaign was self-education.” The spaces where collaborative learning emerges are spaces that involve an important degree of free-questioning, debate and disagreement. The lack of institutional authority facilitates engagement in the study of the economy and openness to different ways of knowing and to alternative ways of thinking and understanding economic phenomena. For students, the absence of a vertical hierarchical authority figure changes the logic of production and transmission of knowledge and facilitates authentic dialogue and debate (Choudry, 2015).   153 Similarly, knowledge production and research take many forms inside the movement. For instance, students found space to intellectually engage and carry on their own research, design and participate in evaluation processes, develop seminars, and use the spaces within the movement to learn more about activism and economics. They studied their program and evaluate it by conducting interviews, analyze data and constructing indicators that help to make evident the need to change their education. The open letter written by economics students around the world illustrates the kind of deep, well-developed and well-reasoned arguments that students cultivate as part of their participation in the movement. This letter also illustrates how student activists see the role of self-education and popular education in curriculum activism. Some relevant excerpts from the letter illustrate the tactics, strategies, and sites of resistance. We, over 65 associations of economics students from over 30 different countries, believe it is time to reconsider the way economics is taught. We are dissatisfied with the dramatic narrowing of the curriculum that has taken place over the last couple of decades. This lack of intellectual diversity does not only restrain education and research. It limits our ability to contend with the multidimensional challenges of the 21st century - from financial stability, to food security and climate change. The real world should be brought back into the classroom, as well as debate and a pluralism of theories and methods. Such change will help renew the discipline and ultimately create a space in which solutions to society’s problems can be generated. (ISIPE, 2014) In this excerpt from the letter, students locate their resistance around one single cause. They are dissatisfied with their curriculum and how limited it is to understand and  154 shape the economy that they want to transform. As the letter goes on, students also set their agenda and their need to enrich their curriculum and reinvigorate economics education around three crucial points: United across borders, we call for a change of course. We do not claim to have the perfect answer, but we have no doubt that economics students will profit from exposure to different perspectives and ideas. Pluralism will not only help to enrich teaching and research and reinvigorate the discipline. More than this, pluralism carries the promise of bringing economics back into the service of society. Three forms of pluralism must be at the core of curricula: theoretical, methodological and interdisciplinary.  Theoretical pluralism emphasizes the need to broaden the range of schools of thought represented in the curricula. It is not the particulars of any economic tradition we object to. Pluralism is not about choosing sides, but about encouraging intellectually rich debate and learning to critically contrast ideas…An inclusive and comprehensive economics education should promote balanced exposure to a variety of theoretical perspectives, from the commonly taught neoclassical-based approaches to the largely excluded classical, post-Keynesian, institutional, ecological, feminist, Marxist and Austrian traditions - among others. Most economics students graduate without ever encountering such diverse perspectives in the classroom.  Furthermore, it is essential that core curricula include courses that provide context and foster reflexive thinking about economics and its methods per se, including philosophy of economics and the theory of knowledge. Also, because theories cannot be fully understood independently of the historical context in which they were  155 formulated, students should be systematically exposed to the history of economic thought and to the classical literature on economics as well as to economic history. Currently, such courses are either non-existent or marginalized to the fringes of economics curricula.  Methodological pluralism stresses the need to broaden the range of tools economists employ to grapple with economic questions. It is clear that maths and statistics are crucial to our discipline. But all too often students learn to master quantitative methods without ever discussing if and why they should be used, the choice of assumptions and the applicability of results. Also, there are important aspects of economics which cannot be understood using exclusively quantitative methods: sound economic inquiry requires that quantitative methods are complemented by methods used by other social sciences. For instance, the understanding of institutions and culture could be greatly enhanced if qualitative analysis was given more attention in economics curricula. Nevertheless, most economics students never take a single class in qualitative methods.  Finally, economics education should include interdisciplinary approaches and allow students to engage with other social sciences and the humanities. Economics is a social science; complex economic phenomena can seldom be understood if presented in a vacuum, removed from their sociological, political, and historical contexts. To properly discuss economic policy, students should understand the broader social impacts and moral implications of economic decisions. (ISIPE, 2014) Students have advanced in representing the complexity of need to rethink economics education. Students developed their level of argumentation and detail in the student’s  156 comprehension of economics education, and its difficulties to address and answer students’ needs and questions. The sophistication of the argument for pluralism in education presented by students in ISIPE in this letter illustrates the progress in students learning process and knowledge about economics. Indeed, in the following excerpt students finalize their open letter by presenting some ideas for implementation and a summary of the initiatives that have made in their student movement: While approaches to implementing such forms of pluralism will vary from place to place, general ideas for implementation might include: • Hiring instructors and researchers who can bring theoretical and methodological diversity to economics programs; • Creating texts and other pedagogical tools needed to support pluralist course offerings; • Formalizing collaborations between social sciences and humanities departments or establishing special departments that could oversee interdisciplinary programs blending economics and other fields. Change will be difficult - it always is. But it is already happening. Indeed, students across the world have already started creating change step by step. We have filled lecture theatres in weekly lectures by invited speakers on topics not included in the curriculum; we have organized reading groups, workshops, conferences; we have analysed current syllabuses and drafted alternative programs; we have started teaching ourselves and others the new courses we would like to be taught. We have founded university groups and built networks both nationally and internationally.   157  Change must come from many places. So now we invite you - students, economists, and non-economists - to join us and create the critical mass needed for change. See Support us to show your support and connect with our growing networks. Ultimately, pluralism in economics education is essential for healthy public debate. It is a matter of democracy.  Signed, the member organizations of the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics. (ISIPE, 2014) As the excerpts from the letter show, student activists have been constantly advancing in their discourse, and creating spaces where they can learn and share alternative knowledge inside and outside the boundaries of the university. The letter also shows the evolution of the movement narratives and the many learnings, intentional and unintentional, that activists have to develop a more comprehensive interpretation of the world that surrounds them. The creation of spaces where they are able to collaborate, learn from other student organization experiences and involve everyday people contribute to building a bigger international network of people interested in the debate and eager to work towards collective action.  In the context of the PCES, an example that illustrate the spaces created by the movement is the (un)conference. “The un-conference” was founded by the Post-Crash Economics Society in 2015 and is one the larger events involving large numbers of people and receiving significant media attention. The (un)conference was a free space where students and interested people discussed topics such as: why economics needs to be for everyone, citizens’ economics and the importance of democratizing economic knowledge. As Joe Earle explains in an interview,   158 This event is of a new magnitude for us. It is the first time we have branched out into public education (…) We hope that over the three days we can create a space in which anyone, whatever their background will feel comfortable talking about economics, sharing their experiences and expressing their opinions. (Hayward, 2015) Choudry (2015) suggests that popular education is a powerful way for movements to engage people not only emotionally but physically because the exercise to meet likeminded people often moves activists and potential participants past a sense of isolation towards agency and social action. Indeed, as part of the learning process, Cahal describes how they came to know about past movements that tried to change the economics curriculum. Students had previously advocated for pluralism and Cahal and his colleagues found material in various documents left by students at that time. For example, at beginning the narrative of the movement was not formulated around the idea of pluralism. Students came to use the term as part of the discovery that it was a big part of earlier movements during the 1990s in Sydney. These discoveries facilitate PCES students to connect to more people around the world with the aims of the movement. “Popular education is an important link connecting the idea of activism and building collective spaces and movements in which ordinary people can see themselves as knowledge producers and agents of change” (Choudry, 2015, p. 88). The internal agenda in the PCES evolved to a more general goal, it is to contribute to the democratization of economics knowledge. PCES as a society changed gears from demanding change with universities to contributing to make economics knowledge available to everyone.  4.7 Narrative Theme VII: Why do they write reports?  159 From the beginning of the movement for a more pluralistic economics education students published evaluation reports as a tool to voice their agenda. Evaluation reports are the devices created by students to elicit dialogue and offer evidence about their claims regarding economics education. Evaluation reports have been a venue for campaigning inside their departments and universities. In a highly academic environment, students found evaluation reports could become the tools that legitimatize their cause. The reports use existing structures of power within the academy and a validated tool to claim legitimacy. PCES students were the first student organization that made their claims using reports and made their efforts public since they offered concrete evidence about the problems in economics at Manchester University. In England, student organizations have published ten local evaluation reports and five national reports (Proctor, 2019).  The evaluation reports describe and judge the state of economics education from the perspective of students involved in the movement. They offer a depiction of what is happening in undergraduate economics education. The reports also contribute to the debate and open alternatives to transform specific aspects of the curriculum in each of the campuses. As student criticism of the status quo of economics pedagogy grows so does the political relevance of the reports. They have been included in a variety of books (Earle et al., 2017; Fischer et al., 2017), campaign material and academic research (Gruszka, Scharbert, & Soder, 2017). One example of the importance of the reports in the movement is the case of the report written by the Post-Crash Economics Society (PCES). University of Manchester students published a substantial report called Economics, Education and Unlearning: Economics Education at the University of Manchester in April of 2014 (PCES Post-Crash  160 Economics Society, 2014). In this report, student activists present the results of an extensive evaluation of their program and demand change not only internally, at the university level, but from the entire discipline of economics. As the students’ state in their report, their purpose is “to provide a detailed, evidence-based argument outlining the shortcomings of economics education at the University of Manchester.” (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014)  The PCES’ report addresses several objectives: First, it concisely outlines the students’ main concerns about their economics education and evaluates the program emphasizing criteria that are relevant to students: real world applications, encouragement of critical thinking, promoting academic freedom, etc. Second, the report illustrates the dynamics of power that take place in production and reproduction of the status quo at the University of Manchester. Third, the report acts as a debate instrument offering to students a platform to respond to a number of common counterarguments. Finally, the report provides recommendations and alternative scenarios.  In the first two sections of the report students describe the context of the evaluation, the methodology, criteria and results of the analysis. Section one describes in detail the main concerns that students have regarding how economics is taught in their university. The question “what is wrong in economics education at Manchester?” (The Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014, p. 14) guides their analysis. Succinctly, students argue that the economics is based on a single methodological framework. Moreover, economic theory remains vague and economic history is completely absent. The extensive use of purely quantitative methods limits students’ tools to understand a complex economic reality. The requirement to make assumptions regarding value-free research methods is unrealistic and  161 offers a narrow interpretation of economic phenomena. Lastly, both, teaching and assessment methods are inhibiting the development of critical thinking and evaluating skills.  In section 2, the report presents the analysis of 12 core economics modules. Students include their experiences, courses outlines, exams and assignments as data to substantiate and support the evaluation. They mention that about 90% of the assessment in their first-year modules and 70% in second year seminars consist of multiple-choice questions. There is a little effort to provoke debate and critical awareness since “students are left with only abstract theories and little knowledge of where [the theories] came from” (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). In addition, they argue that in the seminars and lectures “there is no mention of what school of thought is being taught or that there are any other schools of thought” (PCES Post-Crash Economics Society, 2014). Finally, there is no real-world connection, the system in place encourages memorizing information to pass an exam and students know only fragments of the theory.  In the following sections, students report on the dynamics of production and reproduction of the status quo in the economics departments, detailing the role played by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)16, academic journals and recruitment practices in economics. The students also expose the incoherence between the program and the university standards of quality. They explore the main constrains the movement has to change economics education and offer recommendations to embrace a curriculum reform.  Aside from the ameliorative elements inherent to program evaluation, scholars connect the practice of evaluation with an exercise of citizenship and an opportunity to  16 The REF works since 2014 in the United Kingdom, and it is the system for assessing the quality of research of British higher education institutions. The main aim of REF is to provide accountability for public investment and establish a system based on rankings to allocate resources.   162 support democratic practices (House & Howe, 2000; Mathison, 2009b). The students’ evaluation reports are intended to present evidence of the state of economics education and demonstrate what the concrete weaknesses are in their programs. The reports also show that the problems in economics education are global, not limited to specific institutions and therefore the need to unite efforts and have an international network of students is more than relevant. Hence, the reports are an advocacy strategy to speak not only to the programs and the specific universities but to create opportunities and have alliances with students and academics in economics around the world.  The reports are tactics of resistance in the context of academia, written to speak to an academic community in the language that university administrators understand. They promote transformation, facilitate dialogue and are tools to gain legitimacy in a corporate higher education system that believes in accountability. Also, the reports are material culture created by activists in the movement. They are results of a cognitive process and historical evidence of the students’ struggle campaigning for curriculum reform. Additionally, the reports are also recruitment tools since they work as an invitation to participate in an inclusive and open debate. Students produce the reports because they are contextually needed to gain legitimacy and to open a space to dialogue within vertical, hierarchical academic institutions.   163 Chapter 5. Discussion and Conclusions This study is a narrative exploration of the questions: (1) How do post-secondary economics students engage in social activism that seeks the transformation of the discipline of economics? (2) What synergies are there between the role of student and the role of social activist? and (3) What pedagogical role does student social activism play? In other words, this study investigates how economics students understand and experience their activism in the age of the neoliberal university and how their experience as students is transformed by social action? Narrative analysis was used as research methodology to interpret and represent how students in the movement challenge economics education, understand their roles as activists and students, and share with others their experiences of curricular activism in their universities. Narrative analysis was chosen in an effort to give voice to a variety of experiences. The narrative themes can be read independently as creative pieces that offer a picture of what different aspects of student activism or as a collage that represents the complexities of student activism, including contradictions and transformations in the movement and its activists. The movement continued to transform during this research project. Their agenda moved from a campus-centered schema that demanded specific transformations in the curriculum on specific campuses to a broad, global, international call for action, which focuses on lobbying for change and involves several student-based organizations demanding fundamental changes to economics education at the disciplinary level. Likewise, the students who started the movement were no longer in the movement when data collection and interviews for this research began. Many of the founding members of the movement had  164 graduated from university and initiated postgraduate studies or were employed prior to this study.  The narrative themes locate readers in the context of the 2008 economic crisis. The context is an integral element of the overall narrative, it is the time and location when and where experiences were created and shared. Authors tell stories seeking to involve an audience, connect to them, evoke their feelings and ultimately provoke them to care about the plot and its characters. Therefore, the context plays a role in helping authors to connect to readers, since it is defined by the circumstances surrounding the production of narratives. According to Davis (2002), narratives transmit contextual elements that inform the audience about the circumstances in which they are produced. Stories are created and shared “under particular social conditions and constraints, historical, institutional, and biographical contexts are always critical to understanding the intelligibility, believability, and relevance of stories” (Davis, 2002a). Storytellers appeal to people’s knowledge, intelligence and emotions to connect to them and more precisely, to identify with them. The context in which narratives are created is a central element in what Davis (2002) calls storyteller-audience identification. In other words, stories depend on the context to be intelligible, believable and able to involve the conceptions and perceptions about the world that people hold and trust. The 2008 economic crisis acts as the intelligible setting that readers understand and from there, the story begins. Following Davis’ (2002) argument, the context of the story makes it convincing. The crisis contributed to make the narrative created by the students more compelling. In addition, the crisis, as a political and economic event, created an opportunity for students to urge and persuade their departments to rethink economics education and to invite economists and  165 academics to consider alternatives to the way society understands the economy and relates economically.  Through their narratives, activists offer an established account of the origins of their social and political activism (Polletta, 1998, 2006; Polletta & Lee, 2006). The narratives about the crisis nurture the movement and connect new members to a similar perspective of the conditions that detonated social action in the first place but moving them towards awakening their agency and seeking social transformation. Davis (2002) argues that narratives in social movements contribute to maintaining a stable and articulated message that in turn sustains and identifies a movement. In the context of the economics students struggle, the crisis helps students to connect to everyday people outside their discipline and helps others to understand why a misleading curriculum affects not only students, but everyone. According to Davis (2002), when activists create and share stories, they seek to legitimate their motives and create representations “for the construction and legitimation of newly visible and empowering subjectivities” (p. 26). The context of the 2008 financial crisis awoke not only a genuine interest to study, understand and transform economics for the students in the movement, but also to increase students’ and people’s awareness of the problems that the discipline and the world face. The crisis posts challenges for new generations, it locates them in the position to rethink economic relationships and economics education.  Historically economic and social crises have been the genesis of activism. Students as a political actor are barometers of social tensions. The 2008 global crisis served as a political opportunity for PCES, ISIPE and organizations like Rethinking Economics to emerge. Now,  166 as the world experiences a major global recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,17 questions about economics education and the need to change the economics curriculum are back. Students and members of the moment have started to ask how well economics and economics education are equipped to understand and deal with the COVID-19 economics crisis. In June 2020, Rethinking Economics, via their twitter account, invited participation in a survey designed to question economics and economists’ role in the COVID-19 pandemic.  The COVID-19 pandemic is set to bring about one of the worst economic crises in modern times. But how well have economists done to give the public explanations & solutions about what is happening, & how the economy can recover? Have your say: . (Rethinking Economics, 2020) As the COVID-19 economics crisis continues disrupting markets, trade, consumption and economic development, the crisis scenario constitutes itself as a new chance to shake up economics departments and transform economics education. In this sense, it is relevant to understand the movement that emerged from the last crisis, its protagonists, the pedagogical potential of their social action and the possibilities it opened to the next generation of students who are dealing with economics curriculum in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The following sections discuss the main themes in relation to literature in social movements, student movements, critical pedagogy and social movements learning. Each section elaborates how data presented in the narrative themes contributes to the  17 Entire cities around the world were placed on lockdown to stop the spread of COVID-19 which is causing severe economic repercussions. Economies around the globe slowdown, the financial markets dropped and consumer activity across the world keeps falling (Wolf, 2020)   167 understanding of student curricular activism, student social action and the role of the student in the neoliberal university.  5.1 Student Activism and the Student Experience  Analysing how students narrate their role and make sense of the roles that pedagogy and activism played in the movement to change economics education highlights two distinctive moments that need to be described and interpret. At the beginning, students were much more optimistic about their capacity to change the economics curriculum at their universities. However, as the narrative theme VI illustrates, as time passed students started to focus less on their programs and universities and more on the need for alternative spaces to connect to people outside academia. As a result, their narratives about their roles as students and as future economists shifted, as did their personal relationship with the university and their discipline’s knowledge.  The importance that economic knowledge had for the students was first understood mainly through their own personal need to transform the economy and understand the 2008 crisis. As Caruso and Cini (2020) note, student movements emerge within a capitalist society as a result of conflict over social relations and services. That is, in the context of the economic crisis and its devasting consequences students wanted to personally transform the economy for the betterment of their communities. Later, as they developed a deeper understandings of how neoliberal capitalist economics affected democracy and the world, students’ desires shifted to transforming the ways in which common people think about the economy and economics. Therefore, it seems that they understood that the problem of neoclassical economics and neoliberal capitalism was not only in their hands but required a broader effort of consciousness raising and agency. Then, they started to think about how to  168 expand the movement to answer this challenge and also keep raising relevant questions to their discipline about how economics knowledge is going to deal with future crisis, bubbles and crashes.  Studying, learning and collective action contributed to transforming the scope of their ideas. The movement embraced a second role, a social, broader role that challenged students to adopt a new agenda. Neoclassical economics and the structure of economics as discipline were only the first identifiable concern that students were facing. Behind those were bigger and systemic issues that maintain the status quo in education and economics. This awareness allowed students to think and integrate broader notions of democracy and citizenship in their worldview as a movement. Students moved towards questioning how to translate economics to everyone, so people understand the implications that economics education has in everyone’s lives, beyond the immediate curricula. Students began wondering about and acting upon questions about democratizing knowledge and how to get people to understand the implications of economics, so people would be able to fight back.  The roles and relationships between students and their institutions, their universities, is also critical in the movement. Students experienced different types of repression exercised by professors and the administrative body of the universities. Their roles could only be partially reimagined as they tried to figure out the kind of activism needed to transform their curriculum. The hierarchical structure of universities, the historical master and apprentice relationships that are customary in academia (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979; Bourdieu & Nice, 1977) and the neoliberal culture that took over academia (Slaughter & Rhoades, 2000), constructed limits to the transformation of relationships between students and their institutions. The prospects were not optimistic for economics students to successfully  169 transform economics education. They achieved several minor transformations, but the economics programs in the UK, as students reveal in their narratives, for the most part have kept their structure and curriculum. The neoclassical economics curriculum continues to be the mainstream in economics around the world. The curriculum may not have been transformed, but the students were. The experience as a student and the experience in activism transformed students and influenced students’ perceptions about who they are as citizens, what kind of professional economists they want to become and how they refuse the traditional paths and stereotypes that dominate the discipline. Students wanted to change their approach to the field of economics and learn a plurality of approaches, but this proved to be an impossibility within their programs. Students’ voices were constantly ignored by the administrative and bureaucratic hierarchies of university. Nonetheless, the experience of being an activist transformed them and their student experience in ways that allow them to learn and unlearn in social action, to become cognitive and praxis-oriented subjects (Haworth, 2012). The knowledge and skills students learned were not part of the formal curriculum, but they learned how to transform their role in the university by being participants in the movement. Emotionally and intellectually they sustained themselves in their activists’ groups, so they had a network of encouragement and support to deal with the frustration of being ignored by the university, the constant repression and the intellectual challenges. Both knowledge and skills learned in social action were key to sustaining the movement and activists.  Students as they are understood by the neoliberal university have a rather simplistic role, as discussed previously in section 2.2. Students are seen as consumers shopping for courses according to their interests and have a non-active role in the transformation of  170 society. In part, the reason for this is the perception that student life is a stationary stage, the final goal is to be employed by companies once graduated and then students will have a substantial role in society (Aronowitz, 2000; Hill, 2003; Masschelein & Simons, 2015; Petrina, Mathison, & Ross, 2015; Saunders, 2014; Simons & Masschelein, 2008, 2009).  However, collective action was a space for students to reclaim their agency. Economics students, as narrative themes I, III and VII show, were interested in developing an effective and transformative alternative now, in the present, so they could improve the communication between citizens and economics as a discipline. In this way, they did not want to wait to get their credentials to transform the world. Their experience in activism transforms their role as passive recipients of knowledge to active agents of change. They began to dedicate time to creating alternative spaces as students (conferences, crash courses, webpages, etc.) to democratize economics, and at the same time they kept questioning mainstream knowledge and skills so their curriculum at their campuses might change.  Their approach to activism in education was not to disrupt normalcy in economics departments, but rather the disruption of relations within and traditions of the discipline and the university in the way both communicate to everyday people. They did reimagine their own role, from the traditionally passive role students have in their own education to an active one. In this way student activism contributed to reimagining how students embrace their relationship with knowledge. Scholars in social movement literature argue that some forms of social action develop spaces where activists embrace “utopic” ways of living that seek to mirror or embody some of the aspects of alternative visions and ideas that movements aim to construct (Holloway, 2002). The concept of prefigurative social action is used in the literature to theorize and explain how social movements constitute such alternative practices  171 and ways of living in the “here and now” (Holloway, 2002). Prefiguration’ or ‘prefigurative politics’ refers to political and contentious action, or movements in which alternative practices, experiences or logics are experimentally enacted in the present time. Therefore, prefigurative practices strive to reflect the kind of society and societal practices being sought by social movements. The appearance of the citizen economist is an example of the prefigurative role that students embraced. To contextualize this character, there is the need to look back to the global financial crisis of 2008. The devastation in the economy and the difficulties that this generation of students was (and still is) experiencing framed their activists and political decisions. The lack of connection between economics and citizens generates detachment, powerlessness and helplessness; feelings that are close to any non-economist trying to embrace economic debates. Economics and the matters of the economy affect everyone’s life, but economics knowledge is left only to the experts. The rise of the citizen economists also responds to recent demonstrations of power brought by civic uprising movements since 2010. This generation witnessed an extraordinary rise of particularly large social and student movements all over the world: Arab Spring, the Penguins’ Revolution (Chile), Maple Spring (Canada), Occupy movement, among many others. All these movements shared massive demonstrations of democracy and citizenship that made visible an important number of advances in terms of social justice and influenced policy in each of their countries. Contrary to the feelings of helplessness and frustration, these movements communicated a strong sense of hope in social action and in the possibilities for activism to transform the world. The citizen economist represents an ideal of society and the kind of interactions that economics should have with the making of democracy.  172 5.2 Pedagogy, Knowledge and Activism For Freire (1970/2005) the process of conscientization is always inseparable from the process of liberation. It is the ability to critically engage with the world and reflect about the personal role activists have in social transformation of society (McLaren, 2015). Awareness and self-reflection emerge during periods of time where activism induces authentic thinking and engagement (Hall & Clover, 2005). It is from the authenticity of the reflection that constructive engagement and transformation can be built (Ross, 2018).  The narrative themes present at least three moments in which students engaged in the process of conscientization. Firstly, were the moments in which students were overwhelmed, frustrated and feeling hopeless, but found a route towards constructive engagement and collective action. In these cases, students demonstrated an interest in organizing themselves instead of letting things remain the same and perhaps find resolution. In these moments, students’ awareness of their capacity to act in transformative ways and have agency was the impulse to the movement. It served to create spaces that provided emotional support for students in similar conditions. Students were frustrated by the passive roles they were placed in by faculty, departments, and the university and that frustration detonated into a more organized and sophisticated form of collective action. In this way, the movement started in small readings groups with individuals engaging in learning and studying economics and in dialogue with one another. Political consciousness was a result of this interaction among despair, frustration and knowledge among like-minded individuals talking to each other. A second moment of conscientization happened when students were still experiencing frustration but organized themselves beyond reading and discussion groups and moved to recruitment of new members, organizing a national and international movement to  173 lobby against the status quo of the economics curriculum. Students organized through seminars, conferences, and self-education about the workings of higher education as a system and how economists constructed the curriculum. Later, they used the similar events to build a community of activists. The events became platforms for reaching more students. Conscientization also is reflected in the ability of activists to understand the problem beyond their needs and institutional context and create networks that helped more students navigate the universities and the discipline, reach out to more people and build strength internationally. As a result, the movement gained scope, visibility and relevance, particularly when students brought their ideas and demands to the media, putting public pressure on the economics departments.  The next transformation, when students engaged citizens and embraced popular education methods of the movement, was also a result of moments of awareness and consciousness. Students’ role as popular educators is seen in their efforts to create learning communities and spaces in which they could disseminate knowledge about economics. Activists actually reimagined their activism to change not only their individual education but to open up and democratize knowledge. Many challenges become evident when students surpassed the moment of frustration and engaged in dialogue with others. For example, one challenge was to move beyond jargon and disciplinary habits to an encounter with everyday people. Students embraced both traditional and non-traditional educational methods to approach common people outside from economics departments. They wrote books and textbooks, they published articles and pamphlets, filmed documentaries and designed web pages attempting to teach alternative approaches to economics. They embraced the challenge of translation, to translate knowledge from a jargon charged discipline to a quotidian  174 language. The intellectual work of the movement is a testimony of the relations that exist between knowledge, pedagogy and activism. The type of critical awareness that students associate with their notion of an economist citizen dialogue is Freire's notion of conscientization.  For Freire (1970/2005), conscientization is inseparable from the liberation of human beings. Conscientization implies a critical look to the practices and narratives that sustain the status quo. For Freire, the method of conscientization also implies the ability to identify contradictions in the world and to prevent students from simply adapting and crushing their own potential. Therefore, liberation assumes the capability to be critical about their own reality the one that allows people to take action and reflect upon that action, being conscious of their own potential to transform the world. As a student movement, PCES has created tactics that seek to address a level of conscientization and awareness from the general public.  For students at PCES, there is a relationship between activism in economics and democratic citizenship, which needs to be fostered. Students understand themselves and their role as economists in relation to their role as citizens in a democracy. Intuitively, the construction of an economist citizen follows from the activism that students have chosen. Students argue that democracy has been undermined by economists. Common citizens cannot actively participate in political and economic debate unless they understand what is happening, how economics affects them, and empower themselves.  To gain legitimacy in their departments and in the academic community was a challenge for students in the movement. Students embraced intellectual work and carried self-initiated evaluations of their programs, so they could report evidence of the need to transform their curriculum. This intellectual engagement puts students in the position to  175 study and develop the intellectual rigour needed for debates with the mainstream of the discipline. This stage of growth in the movement is characterized by students having the need to cultivate a worldview, and to develop the technical knowledge required to speak back to their discipline. At the same time, students cultivated their ability to translate knowledge back to people and aimed to transform bigger communities. The questions students explored in their local groups were: How to transform society? Is there any alternative to mainstream neoclassical economics? How do students gain legitimacy and articulate the changes and demands the program need? As a response, students opened their activists’ spaces to navigate these questions and explore possibilities. They used their readings groups, evaluation efforts, conferences and gathering events to facilitate the creation of an international network that worked towards awareness, knowledge translation and reflection.  Holt (1972, 2004) and Miller (2002) argue that freedom of thought is one of the necessary conditions for students to have meaningful encounters with knowledge and a meaningful engagement with the world. As the narrative themes IV and VI illustrate, in the spaces of activism students found this kind of freedom and engagement. Inside the spaces opened by their activism, students did not have to deal with the authorities in the field, grades and academic rituals that are customary exercises of power in academia. Students found it more feasible and comfortable to learn about alternative approaches to economics at the margins of their education than within the rules of formal classroom settings. Social movement theory emphasizes that learning in the context of social action commonly happens when activists share experiences and knowledge with each other in a dialogical and informal way (Freire, 1970/2005; Choudry, 2015). The often confused and uncomfortable relation that  176 students have with universities and their discipline presents a challenge regarding the possibility for students to authentically engage in learning economics. The lecturing and tutoring settings of the neoliberal university are underwhelming for learning. Besides the traditional settings in which learning is supposed to take place, there is also the fact that economics knowledge is highly abstract and based on unrealistic assumptions, then it is disconnected from reality. As authors such as Haworth (2012), Hern (2003), and others working from anarchists’ pedagogies argued, learning needs to be situated in authentic contexts and needs authentic curiosity and interest to be meaningful. Students in the movement did not develop a sense of belonging to their universities nor to their discipline nor did they identify as economics students or future economists.  The nature of the pedagogical relations and the status that students have inside the traditional research-oriented universities makes it even more difficult for students to be authentic about their curiosities and interests. People do not authentically learn by force or economic interest, they could be disciplined, but that is not the same as authentic learning (Holt, 2004, 1972). This circumstance is exacerbated in the neoliberal university where students are treated like consumers and knowledge as a merchandise. As Ross (2017) argues in the neoliberal education system appearing to have an achievement is more valuable than actually learning and authentically engaging, therefore students are incentivized to prefer higher grades over intellectual challenges, studying and gaining a comprehensive understanding of reality.  Maeve’s arguments about the reasons why students have a say about their curriculum and their universities resonate with a common argument from liberal thinkers (Swartz, 2016). For instance, Karl Popper suggests a close relationship between education and students’  177 responsibility to make up their own mind about the problems and challenges that new generations are facing:  … since every generation has its own troubles and problems, and therefore its own interests and its own point of view, it follows that each generation has a right to look upon and reinterpret history in its own way, which is complementary to that of previous generations. After all, we study history because we are interested in it, and perhaps we wish to learn something about our own problems. (Popper, 1962) Nonetheless, the neoliberal university and the relationship it fosters with students presents one of the most salient contradictions within the economics movement discourse. In an attempt to rebel, the movement has reinforced their identity as students-clients by deploying consumer logics and arguments that have been a fortress of neoliberal education. In the movement’s narratives they go back and forth in their appropriation of the consumer identity. For example, the use of the NSS survey as a tactic to pressure change was effective, but at the same time carried important and deep ideological consequences for many students in the movement. They employed a satisfaction index survey to show themselves as unsatisfied clients of the university. Nonetheless, many students disapproved of using student satisfaction indexes as means to validate and legitimized their grievances (Davies, 2017). The movement exists within the tensions among students mobilising on a neoliberal university under the rules and logics of neoliberal capitalism and trying to undermine, by any means, neoclassical economics, the theorical bases of neoliberal capitalism. Students are still part of a formal education context, in this way, they also have learned to follow the rules in their universities and use them to move their agenda forward. These spaces of ambiguity  178 create contradictions and tensions among students and their identities and roles in higher education. Another critical moment of consciousness is when students needed to prepare themselves to answer the question regarding what gives them the right to demand changes in their curriculum (Narrative theme V). Students’ awareness and reflection needed to be oriented towards a comprehension of their own role as students and also a better understanding of who their counterparts were and what would be their play. Students had the world's attention and they had gained enough momentum to challenge their university’s home departments. They were being taken seriously by the public. Nonetheless, students were challenged by their own passive role. Academia in economics did not validated students’ agenda. So, students needed to have a better understanding of how universities work to serve and perpetuate the status quo.  An example that illustrates this learning for the movement is when academia responded to the students with the CORE (Curriculum Open-Access Resources in Economics). This alternative perpetuated the status quo at the same time that it was marketized as a solution to students’ demands. CORE is a project that created and distributed open-access teaching material on economics. This project was broadcast as an answer to the movement and their goal was centered in making teaching material to reform the economics curriculum. However, it is just an online textbook that mildly reforms some of the didactics of economics education, but it remains based on neoclassical economics and did not include any other school of thought in economics (Earl et al, 2017).  The challenge for students was to read and respond to the situation. Students understood that the movement and their efforts were being used by mainstream economists  179 to validate their textbook as a solution to the movement petitions, but it was not more than a mild reform in the didactics of Economics 101, an introductory course of economics in universities. At this point, it was evident that the efforts to change the curriculum required more than lobbying for change, since lobbying was easily co-opted by the status quo and used as a tool for legitimation. Traditionally, piecemeal reforms are used to slow down movements. This is an example of a strategy used by mainstream economists to repress student activism. Students were offered a solution like the CORE curriculum and INET used student activists’ efforts as publicity for their proposal. For instance, nowadays CORE is used in 300 universities thanks partially to all the efforts made by students. To respond to CORE, students in the movement studied it and wrote direct responses trying to articulate why CORE was not a good solution to the need to change economics (Earl et al, 2017). They evaluated CORE to show how insufficient it was as a solution for the need to change economics education (Earl et al, 2017).  These examples show how conscientization implies a deep reflection on circumstances and an integration of questioning, thinking, knowledge and collaborative action to achieve transformation and liberation. The exercise of social action needs conscientization and knowledge engagement to be transformative and to drive movements forward. In the development of the student movement, activists changed their understanding of economics and their agenda. Their own conscientization made them aware about the importance of education for the people and the need of a democratization of knowledge (Freire,1970/2005).  5.3 Social Movement Learning.   180 According to Eyerman and Jamison (1991), learning in social action encompasses three kinds of knowledge: a learning experience that integrates a worldview, a technical knowledge, and lastly, organizational skills that are needed to maintain the movement. In the case of economics students, the imaginary of the student as a passive recipient of knowledge, which is maintained by the traditional banking model of teaching in higher education, was transformed by a richer and authentic experience of learning within activism. Students reimagined their role as an active subject with an active responsibility with society, a subject that uses knowledge to create spaces where knowledge and learning empower them and everyday people. In this way, economics students in the movement did have an authentic experience of learning (Ross, 2019) that was not about merely listening to economics experts, but about speaking for themselves and finding their own voices and interests.  Learning in social action opens the possibility for activists to learn by experience. In his way, knowledge is tied to an authentic experience and an authentic need. Everything we know about learning instructs that people do not learn by reading left-wing newspapers, nor by attending lectures… at which some learned person offers correct theory. People learn by experience… People must touch and taste an alternative way of doing things, they must however briefly live inside that hope, in order to come to believe that an alternative might really come true. (Lynd, 2010 cited by Choudry, 2015, para. 9 emphasis in the original, pp 9) Activists’ experience allows them to imagine new ways of understanding, representing and sharing their knowledge about the world. Scholars have long argued that social movements are constituted as sites of knowledge production and knowledge transmission (Choudry, 2015; Gleason, 2013; B Hall et al., 2012; Zielińska et al., 2011). The  181 literature on learning and education in social movement activism often identifies at least three forms of learning happening constantly when people engage in social action: (1) formal learning; (2) non-formal or informal learning; and (3) incidental learning. Formal learning is typically associated with learning in a classroom-based environment that is highly structured. Informal learning, in contrast, may occur in a classroom, but it is not highly structured or does not necessarily have an authority figure directing the learning. It is primarily horizontal and led by the learners themselves. Lastly, incidental learning is often unintentional or unplanned because it is the result of engaging in different activities without expecting to learn (Choudry, 2015; Foley, 1999). The literature about social movement learning fails to adequately describe or theorize student activism, since most of the research has been done with workers and activists outside of academia. The role that formal education plays in either repressing or encouraging activism is one of the elements that is largely absent from SML scholarship. In this study, there is evidence of the repression that university education plays to curriculum activists. Universities are mostly repressing student activism by disciplining students into the habits and norms of the discipline.   Pedagogy in social movements often involved periods of critical reflection, teaching and learning. As Choudry (2015) argues, “critical reflection contributes to greater awareness of the interconnection between the specific issues in which an organization is engaged and the wider political economy. Fostering such critical reflection in learning is one way to build the kind of reflection that challenge power and can productively work within tensions and contradictions” (p. 11). Economics students took the time to learn methods to better understand the institutions, critically reflect about their programs, evaluate them and being  182 able to articulate what was wrong with official institutionalized knowledge, the methods of assessment and the materials. From educators in anarchist traditions the more meaningful learning experiences occur when people care deeply about something and curiosity arises from real needs (Hern, 2003; Holt, 2004). In Holt’s (2004) own words: we are very unlikely to learn anything good from experiences which do not seem to us closely connected with what is interesting and important in the rest of our lives. Curiosity is never idle; it grows out of real concerns and real needs. Even more important, we are even less likely to learn anything good from coerced experiences, things that others have bribed, threatened, bullied, wheedled, or tricked us into doing. (pp.12) People mobilize as the result of an authentic concern, a real social matter that needs to change and sparks social action and activism (Hall et al., 2012; Hall, 2009; Hall & Turray, 2006). Social movements and social action are spaces where interest, care and curiosity meet. In the midst of social action people engage with each other, learn about the things that concern them, and they feel are closely connected to a bigger cause (Foley, 1999). This effort is exemplified by the communities of students reviewing their programs and organizing themselves to evaluate their program and document evidence to create a report. Many other products besides the reports (documentaries, books, pamphlets, webpages, papers) are also examples of the creative and productive potential of social action in the areas of pedagogy and knowledge production.  Choudry (2015) suggests that popular education is a powerful way for movements to engage people not only emotionally but physically because the exercise to meet likeminded people often move activists and potential participants past a sense of isolation towards  183 agency and social action. Indeed, as part of the learning process, Cahal describes how they came to know about past movements to change the economics curriculum. Students had previously advocated for pluralism and the Cahal’s and colleagues found material in various documents left by students at that time. For example, at beginning the narrative of the movement was not formulated around the idea of pluralism. Students came to use the term as part of the discovery that it was a big part of earlier movements during the 1990s in Sydney. These discoveries and knowledges facilitate PCES students to connect to more people around the world to the aims of the movement. In Choudry’s (Choudry, 2015) words, “popular education is an important link connecting the idea of activism and building collective spaces and movements in which ordinary people can see themselves as knowledge producers and agents of change” (p. 88).  5.4 Student Identity, Contradictions and Collective Action  The narrative themes illustrate the general feelings of disappointment and frustration students voiced during the interviews and elsewhere in media and social networks. These feelings provide the impetus for students’ rejection of the discipline of economics and the felt need to alter their career paths. However, in terms of tactics, students did not take extreme radical actions that challenge the fundamental roles and practices of the discipline or the university. Students used mostly lobbying techniques and decided to move their activism around the margins. They used small acts of disruption, but without disturbing higher education’s consumer logic or the logics of teaching and learning that dominate curriculum design in higher education.  The question that begs to be answered is: How viable is a movement that calls for transformation, but stays within the lines as drawn, that is a movement that for the most part  184 has been accepted the hierarchy of the university and the discipline and is working with the standard operating procedures of both. Questions that remain include whether student activism is actually reinforcing the logic that it is intended to fight against, and if students then end up in such uncomfortable positions that is better for them to make a break and change their educational and professional paths by leaving the field of economics.  This topic is even more problematic when the student body is such a diverse and heterogenous group. Many students who preferred to take a revolutionary approach and chose more explicit direct action, such as Gina, ended up changing her career because of exhaustion and hatred. Other students, such as Sally, Betty or JHughes, who were not radical but attempted to embrace more collaborative efforts with faculty also ended up frustrated and realizing that they did not have real chances to truly transform their curriculum.  The prospects of students’ success in transforming the economics curriculum in universities are limited for a number of reasons. Firstly, students recognize that universities have remained silent or just ignore them for the most part. JHughes speaks extensively about how he felt ignored and was treated as inexperienced, uninformed and ignorant of economics and curriculum making by the administrative representatives of the university.  Secondly, the contradictions of the conflict between students demanding a more pluralist curriculum and the hierarchies within the university are resistant to the students’ demands. Cahal’s narrative illustrates how intellectual authority is exercised, the role that jargon, mathematic modeling and bureaucracy play in sustaining the status quo and repressing students.  Lastly, the constant attempts from mainstream economics to use the movement and legitimize their alternatives have been a fight against the domestication of the movement.  185 The example here is the CORE project and INET’s attempt to use the movement as publicity to make CORE relevant and adopted in over 300 universities around the world.  Additionally, the literature in social movement learning (SML) offers a point of view regarding the pedagogical potential of the movement, how viable the movement is to create spaces where economics is seen and understood from a pluralistic framework and what kind of changes can be expected from this kind of movement. Social movement literature suggests that emotions, conflicts and frustrations that students feel, and their complicated sentiments about economics and student life are part of the process of learning in social action. Student activists gain awareness about economics and are conscious about the apparatus that they are against (Jasper, 1999). Student’s commitment to transform economics education has its sources in their interest in the role of economics in life as well as their frustration with disconnection between the economic curriculum and everyday life. Students’ feelings and emotions were closely tied to their identity as activists. Both experiences – activism and student life – inform each other, and the deeper their knowledge about what is wrong with economics education the more complicated the questions students have regarding who they are and what they want to be in the present and future as students and citizens. The answer for many of the activists interviewed in this study has been the abandonment of economics as of their profession of choice.  Feeling limited by their education in economics as well as the rigid and hierarchical structures of academia contributed even more to the isolation, helplessness and the distant abstraction students experienced from real world problems. Besides frustration and burnout, for the most part students express an eagerness to study more about economics and activism, but for the most part their curiosities are explored, once again, in self-education spaces  186 within the movement. Narrative theme V reveals that the imposed logics of learning in economics education, the lack of authenticity in how universities address curriculum design constantly limits students’ desire to learn. The neoliberal university focuses on what the market needs from students, and the disciplines create a must know list of content requirements. As a consequence, students are tired, frustrated and with no real space in the institutions to manifest and transform their own education.  Furthermore, the organization of knowledge into disciplines and how authority is exercised by using jargon filled arguments and complex modeling reinforces the distance between students as discipline’s newcomers and experts. This relationship is strengthened by the role that disciplines and experts play in the university. As Osborne (2015) explains, …(the) definition of disciplines according to subject matter and methods of study displaced the authority of the individual doctor, teacher or professor onto the rules governing the production, reproduction and socialization of knowledge: in particular, those of the professional association and the academic journal, which came, in turn, to regulate the market in academic jobs. (p. 7)  Therefore, representatives and gatekeepers of a discipline constitute networks of power, where scholars and professionals highly effective in training academics, hiring them and self-reproducing the dynamics of the discipline in a network of power and validation (Osborne, 2015). For Peters and Marshall (2002), disciplinary discourses and practices are used to legitimate knowledge, and academic communities act as regimes of truth determining what is worth knowing and teaching. Disciplines have established many mechanisms to protect themselves from radical change. One example is the system of rankings that are in place that often is associated to reputation and prestige. Rankings are validated by  187 universities, governments and professional associations that privilege consumer and investor-based measures and a culture of spectacle. The spaces in the margins, student groups, reading groups, events and conferences programmed by students are the real community of learners and studiers where curiosity and critical questioning happened. A large portion of the literature about the student in higher education overlooks the voices of students and even more in the context of accountability where students’ experiences have been reduced to percentages and indexes. However, as is shown in narrative theme V activism and social action are contributing to re-imagining and reinventing the experiences of being a student in the age of the neoliberal university by offering a suspension of space and time that facilitates authentic engagement and studying (Ford, 2016). Activism and social movement participation produce changes in the way activists see themselves and see the world (Hall et al., 2012). To engage in activism implies not only doing political work, but also entails gaining a complex understanding of politics in general and of one’s own role in society (Polletta & Jasper, 2001). This interconnectivity between knowledge, identity and political engagement derives from what the feminist thinker Anzaldúa (1992) calls, political consciousness. In the context of the student movement, many transformations are of how students see economics and their knowledge about the economy, but also, the movement transforms how they see their role as students in the university, how they engage pedagogically with alternative knowledge and how their identity as a future economist develops into a more critical view of their profession.  The source of the public imaginary regarding who is an economist and what an economist does has been the subject of study by Porter and Serra (2017). The authors argue  188 that public imaginary of economists and their work may be related to the historical lack of gender and ethnic diversity in economics departments, which in turn has influenced the public perception of the discipline (Bayer & Rouse, 2016). The stereotype of an economist is reinforced by the fact that historically renowned economists have been mostly white males and women’s voices have been marginalized and underrepresented. Economics, as with many academic disciplines, is male-dominated, colonial and has been dismissive of non-dominant cultures. In economics, as in other sciences, “the accomplishments of groups with little social or economic power have been glaringly omitted from the narrative” (DeLeon & Love, 2009, p. 161). In addition, economics and economists had a strong relationship with banks and the financial sector. They are often associated with economic and political power. Economics also has limited interaction with other disciplines. Historically, thinkers such as Hayek or Keynes were economists and also recognized as prolific authors, philosophers and public intellectuals who not only worked to interpret the world but were interested in changing it. Keynes suggested that economists were supposed to be mathematicians, historians, statesmen and philosophers. Sadly, the discipline has fallen short and today economists are predominantly limited to being mathematicians, as many students in the movement often argue. For example, Yuan mentions that economics as a discipline barely interacts with other social sciences and the lack of diversity of perspectives on economics seems to be narrowing the possibilities for students to explore diversity of intellectual interests and it is limiting them and their discipline to achieve a better understanding of the world. The historical western male dominance in economics and the relationship it maintains with economic and financial power reinforces a stereotype in the professional exercise of economics.   189 The identity of the student as future economists is a scenario where stereotypes are imposed on the students. For instance, from how the discipline is organized and what knowledge is legitimatized, economists are interested only in certain topics. As this research suggests, if students come from a feminist perspective or a non-traditional neoclassical approach to economics it is more than likely that these students will not find a place or an academic home in economics, as it happened in Gina’s case.  Polletta and Jasper (2001) define identity as “an individual’s cognitive, moral, and emotional connection with a broader community, category, practice, or institution” (p. 285). Participation in a movement “usually transforms activists’ subsequent biographies, marking their personal identities even after the movement ends, whether or not this is an explicit goal” (p. 296). Campaigning to promote change in the economics curriculum has contributed to a deeper reflection about how students see themselves and their role. As it is in Gina’s case, where her interests leaned towards feminism and far from mainstream neoclassical economics.  One central question in social movement studies is why people choose to mobilize? (Polletta, 2006; Della Porta & Diani, 2006; Jasper, 1999). From a Marxist perspective, social movements are triggered as a response to cultural, social and economic injustices (Nilsen & Cox, 2013). In the case of the movement to change economics education, as I previously argued, the financial crisis of 2008 was the central scenario for youth during the time. In other words, the need to change how society is organized economically created and nourished the environment that subsequentially led to the students’ campaign to transform economics education.   190 Besides the economic consequences of the crisis it is important to recall that curriculum itself has been described as a contested site between different ideologies and interest groups (Malewski, 2009; Teitelbaum, 2008). However, universities themselves can be understood as spaces of struggle. These spaces are contested as well, not only by power but also because they are spaces contested by alternative ideologies and resistance. As Foucault (1995) claims, resistance is related to the exercise of power. Historically, resistance inside the halls of academia has taken different forms responding to the context, resources and types of repression endured by the academic community (DeGroot, 1998). Academia and universities are institutions with clear hierarchical organization, and they reproduce the oppressor and oppressed relationship (Freire, 1970/2005; McLaren, 2015). Furthermore, the university functions within the workings of the neoliberal capitalist economy, it is not a bubble nor an ivory tower (Bousquet, 2008; Harvie, 2006). Universities respond to an ideological context. The narratives of why a university is structured and governed the way it is relate to the economic and political narrative of neoliberalism. Therefore, students have become key players in the defense of education. For instance, during the last decade students have organized prominent demonstrations and massive movements, as part of the many resistance efforts against the privatization of education. In 2010 students in England occupied campuses and buildings, and they have made extraordinary and creative demonstrations to raise the public’s awareness about the consequences of the corporatization of education in schools and universities (Hill, 2012). Students’ repertoires of contention have been characterized by a combination of classic and creative types of action. Classic tactics of student political action include mass marches, the occupation of buildings, university and campus buildings and streets blockades, assemblies, and hunger strikes. The more creative  191 and innovative repertoires are characterized for the use of art, music, theater and comedy (Bellei et al., 2014; Boyd, 2012; Cammaerts, 2013; Delgado & Ross, 2016; Kowzan, Zielińska, & Prusinowska, 2014; Zielińska, Kowzan, & Prusinowska, 2011).  For participants in the movement to challenge economics education, they need to have spaces to reflect on their role as activists and students to facilitate mobilizing. Students needed spaces and time to think and reflect and even participation in this research was an opportunity to explore how activism was transforming their student life. Neoliberal academia is oriented towards results and learning outcomes, so it does not offer a much-needed space to stop and articulate knowledge to life experience (interests, activist experiences, or just life experiences in general). The economic crisis and the disconnect students perceived between the crisis in the economics curriculum provided the opportunity for activism. These students’ narratives tell us that a mixture of hopelessness, frustration and the need to take care of the consequences of the crisis were key motivators to student activism. Later, as part of the own reflections the movement changed, and students directed their interest towards democratizing knowledge with the aim of empowering citizens.  One interesting feature from Narrative theme I is that most students in the movement want to continue their work as activist once they graduate, but they find it problematic to identify themselves as economists. For female non-white students, economics as a discipline and academic spaces in general are white male dominated, which poses an identity confrontation. The existing system of beliefs and behaviours that characterized economists’ profession contrast to the character that students created – “the citizen economists.” The identity of an economist is a stereotype far removed from who students are or want to be. The stereotypical neoclassical economist holds feelings, thoughts, interests and behaviors  192 that students do not believe. Belonging to the movement to transform economics education offered students the opportunity to adopt an alternative identity, as their identity as economists remained a challenge to embrace in their professional life and postgraduate studies. Students’ relationships with the discipline were permeated by a rejection of the stereotype of the neoclassical economist, but their interest in the economy evolved in an alternative identity “the citizen economists.” On a similar note, belonging to the movement motivated students to constantly look for a diverse range of possibilities to relate to curriculum activism and economics and resolve different tensions among their discourse, agenda and political interest. For example, while Yuan wanted to continue doing activism in economics and elsewhere through journalism, and Gina was seeking a career in sociology of science through the lenses of feminism.  5.5 Tactics and Student Movements  Scholars of social movements use the term ‘repertoire of contention’ to refer to “the whole set of means [that a group] has for making claims of different kinds on different individuals or groups” (Tilly, 1986, p. 4). In the case of the students in economics, they found that evaluation reports useful tools to legitimatize their cause to an academic audience. Repertoires of contention help students to make their claims visible, to take concrete actions, and to have a voice. One of the more salient examples of repertoires in the economics movement was evaluation reports; student organizations in the movement have published ten localized reports and five national reports (Proctor, 2019). Different organizations have mirrored evaluation reports because they give an apparent voice to students. Students, as narrative VII describes, felt that reports legitimize their movement. On a similar note, Tilly (1986) argues, similar activists’ groups generally have similar repertoires, particularly if they  193 find the specific tactics fruitful to their cause. The reports have not been effective at creating real and durable change in economics, but students continue to use them to gain legitimacy by using the existing structures that give voice to people within the academy. In an academic based movement academic and evaluative work is considered a legitimate tool to call people’s attention inside the academy and to gain relevancy not only in the context of their institutions, but globally. In terms of the literature on prefigurative action, this research offers significant examples of how economics students engaged in activism parallel to their formal training in universities as they created alternative spaces to learn and unlearn economics in order to disrupt how learning is intended to happen in neoliberal higher education. The use of spaces in universities to organize conferences and events that open accessibility to alternative theories and to people who often do not visit universities. These events temporarily displace neoliberal learning. One of the ways in which it accomplishes this is through creating access to more diverse range of ideas and knowledge relevant to the interests of activist economic students. In Gina’s case, she decided to organize the conference at her university. She did not only include alternative theories into the space of a very close-minded economics department but also opened up the space of a private university to the general public. These events were open to people everywhere and they are not paying tuition, nonetheless they are still using universities’ spaces to study and learn for free. The creation of spaces such as the “economics for everyone” conference, which aimed to connect economics knowledge to citizenship, is evidence of students search for alternatives. These alternatives are not only for them as professionals, but to open the university for economics and for academics, researchers, and citizens. The possibilities for these events to carry-on long-term  194 transformations of university practices are rather limited. However, as Mathison (2019) argues, there is a revolutionary possibility in small acts. Mathison elaborates precisely on quieter actions that disrupt and redistribute power silently. Gina’s story about how she could bring an alternative economics conference to her department allows one to see that the events that students organize are conscious and purposeful tools for change. In cases such as Gina’s conference, these events are meant to disrupt, provoke and open up.   In this sense, it might be not possible for universities to create an economics curriculum that reflects the movements call for plurality, but the movement has already used university spaces as a site of resistance, to circulate alternative theories and models, to give access to less privileged people, and to express dignity and agency as part of the role as student activists.  This study represents the experiences of student activists working to transform university economics education in seven narrative themes that offer a coherent narrative of economics student activism and the students in economics as subjects situated on at the bottom of a hierarchy in a higher education system. The study offers various representations of tactics used by students to navigate the challenges of curricular activism within the disciplinary field of economics. Reports, events, publications, social networks, reading groups, all spaces that in small scale fight back, steal time, resources and space to start transforming economics education. The efforts to transform economics education are not reflected in the official curriculum of university economics departments. Nonetheless the transformation of economics education is happening, and it is happening in the same departments that have closed their formal doors to non-mainstream economics.   195 In addition, this study offers a portrayal of how students choose tactics and repertoires of contention according not only to their institutional contexts but also reflects the role they prefer as learners. Student movements often bring to mind street demonstrations, marches, occupations and petitions like the ones seen in Chile 2011. However, in the case of curricular activism in economics students’ strategies and tactics took a different form. Curricular activism was at the microlevel, and even when the movement gained international relevance, tactics were of two types. On one hand, many of the strategies followed traditional protocols of academia such as special events, conferences, publications, reports, and cultural material legitimized by academic culture. Although transgression and disruption can be found within the tactics, the tactics are for the most part accepted in the world of academia. The second group of tactics used by the movement involved lobbying and networking to gain legitimacy in the field and the university as well as using resources outside of academia. Social movements and student movements use different repertoires of contention from a wide range of options, from artistic performances, marches, rallies, strikes, occupations or blockades. The decision to choose one type over another, according to Polletta, McAdam, Tarrow and Tilly (2004) depends on the interpretative framework (worldview, ideals, identity of the movement) and the objectives of the movement. In the case of the economics student movement, achieving legitimacy in the community of economists and the discipline was a central goal. For this reason, students focused on using traditional repertoires rather than more radical tactics. 5.6 Ideology and Power in Higher Education.  Bleiklie (1998), Spooner and McNinch (2018), and Deem and Brehony (2005) among others, argue that university governance is one of the many areas in which higher education  196 experienced the most the effects of neoliberalism. Neoliberalism brought the “New Public Management” (NPM) trend to public administration that implied a transition from collegial governance to corporate governance. In the NPM governance within universities focuses on a performance indicators, efficiency and accountability management. According to Bleiklie, NPM is based on “the conviction that greater efficiency can be achieved by means of performance indicators” (Bleiklie, 1998). Therefore, “…the administrative aspect of university governance should be strengthened to ensure a standardised and controllable treatment of the growing burden of teaching and research.” (Bleiklie, 1998). Spooner and McNich (2018) describe the normalization of neoliberal management practices in universities as masking the fact that it is an ideological project that has reshaped knowledge production and social relations and ultimately displaced moral purpose and the public good with accountancy, control and efficiency as the aims of the university. As society is increasingly dominated by a neoliberal ideology, the university also has articulated values and practices from a market led society and has assumed that people become students not because they are interested in knowledge itself but instead because people attend the university to attain a material outcome (Persell & Wenglinsky, 2004). Scholars exploring the conceptual framework imply students’ satisfaction indexes justify a client-like relationship between students and universities that gives a certain degree of agency to students and is in line with a liberal humanist discourse (Vuori, 2013). According to scholars who defend the trend, students in a consumer or customer subjectivity are not subjected to an authoritarian pedagogical relationship because they are not treated as obedient and docile children or as subordinates (Arsenjuk & Koerner, 2009; Molesworth et al., 2010; Saunders, 2014). However, for Maeve, students in the modern university are not  197 involved in the creation of curriculum, not in the planning or in the development of the main projects of their universities. Furthermore, students are definitely not involved in university governance. When students act like consumers their scholarly agency is reduced to shopping for seminars and courses to enhance their CV.  Saunders (2014) and  Malott and Ford (2015), among others, argue that students understood in a strictly consumerist subjectivity are rather passive in their scholarly agency and lean towards the belief that the function of the university is to deliver content in an entertaining and exciting way, and to assure that students obtain high marks so they are sources of profit. Ideologies are systems of ideas that play a role ensuring the symbolic political, religious, economic, social articulation of society. These ideas become expressions of the economic, social and political interests of various groups. In this way, neoclassical economics is an ideology taught in economics education and associated with the economic interests, therefore insuring ideological instruction safeguards, to some degree, the legitimacy of the status quo and an exercise of power over citizens. Critical pedagogy investigates the relations between ideology and power in education. From the studies by researchers such as Bourdieu and Passeron (1979), Foucault (1982/1995) and many others, there is a clear understanding of the role education plays in reproducing the status quo and reinforcing it. Contemporary universities are constantly working to strengthen the bond between the state and private companies. Higher education has an important role in the supply of well-trained workers demanded by corporations. These workers, particularly economists in their role as policy makers, are the future of the neoliberal capitalist economic system and their knowledge is to serve as guarantee for an appropriated development of the  198 neoliberal economic system of production (Apple, 1979; Malott & Ford, 2015; McLaren, 2015). In other words, universities are designed to reproduce ideology, and economics as a discipline serves to sustain neoliberal capitalism.  Higher education is socially located as an exchange service to be bought with money and it is partially accessible to students who possessed the means to pay for knowledge. In the same way, knowledge is a commodity. In the era of academic capitalism, the university has transformed itself from a social institution to a commercial one where knowledge is a commodity to be purchased rather than learned (Rhoades & Slaughter, 2010b). Economics departments offer mainstream economics because it obeys social priorities and contributes to maintain the status quo. Universities and economics departments are part of knowledge networks that relate to institutions of power, bankers, politicians and the financial sector (Fourcade, 2009). Universities and economics departments work to keep their position in this network, which requires them to play their role or they will have to isolate themselves along with the institutions that teach non-mainstream paradigms to economics.  Critical pedagogy, similar to many other non-mainstream and critical approaches in academia, suffers from the domestication of thought (Malott & Ford, 2015; McLaren, 2015). It is that some versions of critical pedagogy have been passively adapted and reduced to teaching critical thinking skills. In other words, critical pedagogy has been isolated as teaching philosophy and has been disconnected from the debates and the deep analysis of the social contexts that reproduce and maintain neoliberal capitalism. In this way, critical pedagogy has been domesticated and removed from its theoretical depth and insight.  In the narrative themes a similar phenomenon can be identified as happening to the movement in economics education. There is a parallel between the experiences lived by an  199 educator that works in the praxis of critical pedagogy and the experiences of the students in the movement in economics. Educators gain critical awareness about their role within the system and their identity as agents of change is constantly challenged by the reality of being an educator in a neoliberal capitalist society. The narrative themes illustrate the process by which activists get tired and push back. Economics students live in the contradictions of fighting against their own life choices. Critical educators in a similar way, and critical pedagogy in broader terms, have a path that results in critical awareness and in many cases the system overwhelms. The movement as well as critical pedagogy is presented as a mild alternative and puts their discourses in constant risk of being coopted and used by policy makers, university administrators, and so on. This is a common phenomenon for those who fight back mainstream ideologies. The domestication of activism happens when students give up the fight to change their curriculum and search for the possibility of maintaining an interest in the profession but at the same time reject the bases of the discipline. In an institutional context where students are manipulated, oppressed and constantly treated as empty vessels the path for student resistance to be truly transformative lays on the satisfaction of pushing back by using tactics of resistance.  The possibility of economics students’ resistance lasting over time and even winning their fight is reduced. On one hand, there is the challenge of recruitment because student life has a short life span. Also, there is the challenge of the process of conscientization itself and the contradictions it brings to bear. Students are transformed by the critical awareness and the ability to deeply interpret the reality of the world, and their understandings of the real causes and the workings of neoliberal capitalism as the system in place. Students are put in a  200 dialectical tension between their career path and their choice as activists. Awareness about the reality of the profession in economics transforms their own commitment to their profession and their intellectual interests as well. In addition, the higher education system works extraordinarily well safeguarding the status quo and repressing activism.  Collective action then becomes a strategic place for experimentation, creativity, pedagogy and learning (Choudry, 2015; Foley, 1999; Hall et al., 2012; Hall, 2009). Holloway (2002) believes the road to overthrow capitalism lies in the proliferation and multiplicity of rather small-scale upheavals or rebellions against capitalist logics and practices. Then, social change can be the result of the multiplication of such creative practices, oppositional logics and small-scale social transformations that take place in social movements. As Mathison (2020) claims these small acts of resistance, that she calls mundane acts of resistance, have the potential to become revolutionary, because as she argues, … mundane everyday acts of resistance have the potential to create change far in excess of what might be expected are: 1) when there is a significant accumulation of these acts such that real consequences ensue, and 2) the everyday narration of everyday acts of resistance creates shared knowledge about tactics, thus spreading their use and possible consequences across times and places. (p. 168) Student collective action not only opposes and disrupts entrenched, oppressive and dehumanizing practices in academia, but also attempts to displace such practices by re-imagining, debating and experimenting with alternative possibilities. Likewise, as hooks (1994) notes, “the academy is not paradise. But learning is a place where paradise can be created” (p. 207). In the midst of the complexities that happen in student social action, the  201 academy itself is transformed and learning as an experience becomes an opportunity to reinvent ourselves.  5.7 Economics Crises and Economics Education Student Movement   The 2008 economic crisis was the starting point of the economics student movement. It represented an opportunity to students to organize themselves and work collectively to transform economics education and the economy. For economics departments, the 2008 crisis was an uncomfortable period of uncertainty, public scrutiny and disciplinary questioning. However, for the most part, despite the profound economic and social impact of the 2008 financial crisis, the media spotlight and the activists’ efforts by students to challenge their discipline, the economics curriculum around has not changed. It maintains a neoclassical grounding and it does not include a pluralistic approach to economic theory and methodology. As narrative theme IV and V suggest, universities, faculty and economics as a discipline are not willing to change. It would require an enormous investment for the discipline and its representatives a break from the historical path of neoclassical economics. Curricular reform would require a massive and sustained effort to unlearn dominant perspectives and would permanently disrupt the status quo in economics, economists’ professional associations, economics journals, publishers and university departments. In addition, there are many institutions (e.g., Mont Pelerin Society) and mechanisms (e.g., the shock therapy) put in place that guarantee the “resilience” of neoclassical economics and neoliberalism (Mirowsky, 2004; Klein, 2014).  Nonetheless, as I finish writing this dissertation the world is subsumed by a coronavirus pandemic (over 218 territories have the virus and it grows exponentially) and half of the people in the world are in quarantine at home. Up to this day, the virus has killed  202 more than 835,600 people all across the globe. The world will not be the same as it was before the outbreak. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the crisis that was already predicted to come. Capitalism feeds on economic crises (Patnaik, 2016), they seem to be part of a cycle from which neoliberal capitalism has been able to emerge triumphant (Mirowsky, 2004; Klein, 2014). However, in the current situation, the coronavirus pandemic produced an unprecedented global economic and social crisis. Neoliberal capitalists’ institutions and governments were urged to take drastic measures to protect people's lives. Even the most sceptical politicians, such as the Brazilian and United States presidents who constantly downplayed and mismanaged COVID-19, had to mobilize resources and take measures to control and alleviate the pandemic. The economic challenges brought by the outbreak of COVID-19 corroborates the need to rethink the neoliberal capitalist economic system. The COVID-19 pandemic has affirmed that the profound structural problems intrinsic to capitalism are lethal. Inequality and poverty are the two main causes of excess mortality rates from the coronavirus pandemic around the globe (World Bank, 2020). COVID-19 spreads faster in global south and particularly in the poor urban neighborhoods. In the United States, people of color are bearing the brunt of a disproportionately higher rates of infections and death in comparison to other communities. Neither the environmental crises caused by the indiscriminate capitalist exploitation of resources nor the COVID-19 pandemic crisis can be resolved under austerity measures, neoliberal policymaking, and a pretentious “normality.” Strong and legitimate states and government systems has proven to be fundamental to navigating public health responses, education, and social security in the current circumstances. Austerity policies have exacerbated the crises and made it difficult for many  203 governments to mount quick and efficient responses the spread of coronavirus and its consequences. Governments needed to hasten investments in health, hospitals, medical equipment and redress years of cuts to social programs and economic programs to create greater health and economic security for citizens. In the context of academia, the COVID-19 pandemic created enormous challenges for universities, academics and researchers across all disciplines. Nonetheless, academic communities around the world quicky responded to the crisis and contributed top notch research; scholars created and shared teaching resources from all disciplines and supported scholars, students and communities around the globe. Regarding public policy, economists and epidemiologists have starred on the stage of debate between public health versus re-opening the economy (Feldman, 2020; Ip, 2020). Once again, while other disciplines seem open to an academic dialogue and interdisciplinary work, economics and economic models and theory remain inaccessible.  …economists embrace the hardheaded reality that helping one person often leaves another less well-off. When it comes to taking health-related policy measures, economists delight in pointing out that we are implicitly or explicitly putting a measurable economic value on human life. (Feldman, 2020, para. 11) An overconfidence in modeling and econometrics puts people’s lives and livelihoods at risk. Economics needs to be seen with different eyes. The pandemic and its deleterious effects provide more evidence of the failings of neoliberal capitalism to protect the health and security of peoples’ lives. The movement to rethink economics is needed now more than ever as the pandemic made clear, once again, that the discipline of economics is detached from peoples’ everyday lives. The pandemic offers an important political opportunity for the  204 movement to assert itself in the transformation of economics and economic education. The political opportunity that the context opens, allows the moment to resist movement’s domestication and once again gain momentum to demonstrate that economics needs to change urgently so lives can be saved. 205 References AAUP. (1968). Joint statement on rights and freedoms of students. AAUP Bulletin, 54(2), 258–261. Agostinone-Wilson, F. (2013). Dialectical research methods in the classical Marxist tradition. New York: Peter Lang. Allam, L. (2013). 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Studies in the Education of Adults, 43(2), 251–267.    236 Appendices Appendix A: Questionnaire unstructured interview: AGENDA:  Example: Can you describe the main agenda of the movement? How is it articulated in your student organization?  PEDAGOGY: activists' understandings of the pedagogical function of the movement Example: Do you think the movement is doing somehow a sort of pedagogical work? How so?  STUDENTSHIP AND ACTIVISM: Experiences and tensions of being student and activists.  Example: Can you tell me about your experience being students and activists at the same time?  LESSONS:  Example: Which are the lessons for your life as student, as activist, as a future economist, gained from being part of the movement?     237 Appendix B: Consent Form  Study Title: Pedagogical potential of student social action: Exploring pedagogy and pedagogical relations in the student movement in economics departments.  I am inviting you to take part in a research project investigating pedagogy and pedagogical relations in student social action.   Who is conducting this research project? Principal Investigator: Dr. E. Wayne Ross, professor in the department of Curriculum and Pedagogy at the University of British Columbia, is the principal investigator for this research project and Sandra Delgado’s PhD supervisor.  Contact:  Co-Investigators: Sandra Delgado, Curriculum and Pedagogy, PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education at UBC. Contact:   What is the study about? The purpose of this study is to explore the intersections between pedagogy and activism by analyzing the narratives that students create, perform and share as part of their organizing work in the student movement in economics departments. We are conducting this research because we want to explore how pedagogy is experienced in student movements and how student activism can be understood as a pedagogical experience.   Why have I been approached? You are being invited to participate in this research because of your role in the student movement in economics departments. We think you would be able to offer valuable insight into the relations between pedagogy, studentship and activism based on your participation and role in the movement.  Do I have to take part? No. It’s completely up to you to decide whether or not you take part, and if you do how you wish to engage.  What will I be asked to do if I take part? If you decide you would like to participate you will be emailed to arrange a mutually convenient time to answer some questions in an unstructured interview. This should take around 45 minutes to 1 hour. This will be scheduled at your convenience. If you do not wish to be interviewed in person, we could arrange an interview via an instant messaging platform (such as skype or google hangout). If you prefer not to use any instant messaging platform you have the opportunity to answer questions via email, with a maximum of two follow up emails to clarify, expand upon and further explore your initial responses. This should take a total of around 45 minutes to 1 hour.  Will my data be Identifiable?  238 The information you provide is confidential. As standard you will be referred to through a pseudonym to support anonymity. If you wish you have the option to select a preferred pseudonym through which you will be referred in transcripts and any subsequent reports or publications.  The data collected for this study will be stored securely and only the researchers conducting this study will have access to this data: • Any audio recordings and chat or email transcripts will be securely stored for up to five years.  • The files on the computer will be encrypted (that is no-one other than the researchers will be able to access them) and the computer itself password protected.  • The typed version of your interview will be made anonymous by removing any identifying information including your name. Anonymized direct quotations from your interview may be used in the reports or publications from the study, so your name will not be attached to them. • Any personal data will be confidential and will be kept separately from your interview responses. How can I withdraw?  If you wish to withdraw from the study you can do so without giving any reason before, during or within a month of the interview and have all your data deleted (Your data will be removed from the project.) After a month you can still choose to withdraw, and every effort will be made to remove all your data, however once data is pseudonymized and incorporated into themes it might not be possible for it to be withdrawn completely, though every attempt will be made to extract your data and remove all reference to you up to the point of publication.  What will happen to the results? The results from this research project will be part of the doctoral dissertation of Sandra Delgado. Additionally, further parts of the work will be submitted for consideration and potential publication in academic journals, conferences and books.  Are there any risks or benefits?  239 There are no anticipated risks associated with this research project. If you experience any distress or other worry or concern following participation you are encouraged to inform the researcher.   Although you may find participating interesting, there are no direct benefits in taking part. The only possible benefit of participation in this research might include the recognition of your student organization and its efforts to promote change in the economics curriculum by academic audiences engaged with educational theory and pedagogy.  Who has reviewed the project? This study was reviewed and accepted by Sandra Delgado’s doctoral dissertation committee.    Where can I obtain further information about the study if I need it? If you have any questions about the study, please contact the researcher: Sandra Delgado.   Complaints If you have any concerns or complaints about your rights as a research participant and/or your experiences while participating in this study, contact the Research Participant Complaint Line in the UBC Office of Research Ethics at 604-822-8598 or if long distance e-mail or call toll free 1-877-822-8598. Thank you for taking the time to read this consent form. Participation in this research project is voluntary and you may decline to answer any questions or to participate in any component of the research. Further, you may decide to withdraw at any time, or to request the withdrawal of your contributions without any negative impact.   ____________________________________________________ Participant Signature     Date   Optional Identifying you in the data:   Optional: Preferred Pseudonym*  ______________________________   Optional: Preferred Role*   ______________________________   Optional: Preferred Affiliation*  ______________________________   *Notes on preferences:  As standard your responses will be referred to through a pseudonym and non-specific identifiers for your student organizations and universities. Those labels would be use during and after the research study. For example: “Joe: a student leader at an English University”; or “J. Doe”, an economics student and activist at a Russell Group University.” 


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