2020 was another very strong year of teaching for Economics, despite the adversity of pandemic. Once again, as in the previous few years, Economics had the highest average student evaluations of any department in the Faculty. This takes a team effort, and there are many to thank. I would like to acknowledge the teaching associates who provided so much of the front-line small group teaching experience, each of the chief examiners who so effectively ran the units, and of course the members and leaders of the Education and the Learning and Teaching committees.

We are clearly delivering a good level of satisfaction in how we teach. What we teach is of course at least as important. I will recap a few of the recent developments in curriculum, and foreshadow others. There is so much to cover that I’ll just note in one sentence each of the major initiatives, but it is useful to see it all together to get a sense of how much innovation is underway.

In 2020, we launched the new Bachelor of Politics, Philosophy, and Economics; restructured our economics majors in both Clayton and Caulfield to provide more choice and better integration; restructured the Masters, refocused it as a professional degree, and introduced specialisations such as Development Economics; integrated some of the PhD and Honours coursework; and taught more than five new units on topics including Networks, Energy, Big Data and China.

For 2021 and beyond, initiatives (both exploratory and already approved) include new specialisations on International Business Economics for the Master of Business and Master of Business Leadership; a new Economics specialisation in the Bachelor of Data Science; an innovative multi-campus unit with Malaysia and eventually Indonesia; a summer and possibly eventual full semester in our Prato Italy campus; a new graduate diploma of Economic Analytics; the restructure of the PhD program; a broad new partnership with Arts, and again over five new units on topics such as the Internet, Growth, Cost-Benefit, and Finance. That’s quite a lot, and I’ve left out dozens of smaller initiatives. Most of us are involved in a few parts of this, putting it all together I hope this gives the department a broader overview of just how much change and innovation is going on.

The hope of course is that this will serve the students well and keep the department thriving well into the future.

Professor Michael Ward