Values, Behaviors, and Economic Outcomes: Sustainability in the Teaching of Economics

Publication Date


Document Type

Book Chapter


Increasing global awareness of natural resource depletion, heightened weather-related volatility attributable to climate change, and the subsequent emergence of multi-disciplinary sustainability programs in higher education has pronounced the void in the behavioral explanatory science of economics to address the values that have yielded the economic and environmental outcomes observable in prevailing sustainability discussions. Economic theory, models, and analysis are central to a discussion of how individuals interact not only with one another but also with the environment. Further, the implicit inclusion of economics in the daily behavior of individuals and nations strongly influences the observations of global sustainability, including economic equity and social and environmental justice issues. This paper addresses an unmet need specific to introductory economics course curriculum, bridging the gap between consumption dependent growth and sustainability and explicitly addressing the creation of rational economic agent thinking as an outcome of introductory economics. Following a discussion of the present state of introductory economics instruction, the paper provides a replicable and novel starting point for the introduction of sustainability in the introductory economics curriculum, inspiring the development of students as “sustainable” rational economic agents.

Original Citation

Venkatesan, M. (2015). Values, Behaviors, and Economic Outcomes: Sustainability in the Teaching of Economics. In W. L. Filho, U.M. Azeiteiro, S. Caeiro, and F. Alves (Eds.), Integrating Sustainability Thinking in Science and Engineering Curricula (World Sustainability Series 2015), (pp. 559-567). doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-09474-8_39.