Eastern Kentucky University is marking its 45th anniversary of the EKU Center for Economics Education in 2020-2021.
In 1975 a University news release announced the creation of the center. Since then, said center director Dr. Cynthia Harter, it has retained its same mission of helping K-12 teachers in the area of economic education throughout the EKU service region and central and eastern Kentucky.
“The longevity of the Center is impressive. The original director, Dr. Bill Morrow, said that the center was established ‘to serve public schools in this area as a resource center, to provide consultive [sic] services, and to develop or improve economic education in the schools.’ We are still doing those same things 45 years later,” Harter said.
During the past two years, the Kentucky Department of Education has implemented new K-12 academic standards in social studies and financial literacy, which have become two primary content areas for the work done by the center.
“We have been working on ways to equip teachers to teach the new standards. Of course, in 2020, we have also seen drastic changes in pedagogy due to the Covid-19 pandemic. So we have been trying to help teachers implement the new standards in a virtual, hybrid, and face-to-face world,” Harter said.
As part of the recognition of the anniversary, the center will use a financial gift from the Nora Redman Endowment Fund of the Community Foundation of Louisville to create the Nora Redman Teacher Facilitator Program. The fund will be used to hire teacher facilitators who will each curate a curriculum guide of online resources that are linked to the new standards, including webinars to introduce the materials to teachers.
An Introduction to Economics workshop in a College of Education methods class is also part of the center’s anniversary celebration. The session was presented face-to-face for several years, and has now been modified for this year of pandemic. “We are preparing resource packets for the students in the class, and our teacher consultant, Mrs. Cindy West, will present the workshop virtually through Zoom. Professor Connie Hodge, who teaches the undergraduate class, will be on-site with the students,” Harter said.
Harter said that societal shifts in the way we save for retirement, change jobs more often and have less reliance on government for our safety net makes learning economics, which is essentially learning how to make good decisions about the use of our resources, more important than ever. “We cannot rely on government programs to support us in retirement, so we have to plan for our future. Behavioral economics shows us that this is difficult as people typically discount the future. That means we value things that will happen in the future as being less important than things that are occurring right now,” Harter said.
As for the future of the center, Harter said innovation will be the key for longevity, and starting to teach financial literacy at a young age will make for better decisions for new generations.
“If we really want to improve the financial literacy of the Commonwealth, we need to start teaching this content early in the schools and be consistent throughout K-12,” Harter said. “We will continue to pursue the mission that Bill Morrow outlined in 1975, and we will innovate in terms of delivery methods, technologies, resources, content standards, partnerships, and whatever it takes to improve economic education and financial literacy.”
For more information, please visit: http://www.econed.eku.edu.