How STEM education is related to Economics?
STEM stand for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the term was used by Rita Colwell and other science experts in National Science foundation in 2001. It was recognized by the National Science Foundation (NSF) during 1990s that STEM is an integrated approach to education and that these four subjects should be taught together in classrooms. STEM education is an initiative taken to transform typical teacher centered classrooms to student centered environment where students are allowed to engage themselves freely in problem solving activities, discover and explore real world challenges and find solutions to them. The U.S department of education articulates that STEM education will equip student with necessary knowledge and skills to solve problems and will help them in decisions making in the future, economics also has similar goals and objectives. What skills do we need as a future economist to survive in the coming decades?
We Know that economics is a branch of social science that deals with the allocation of scarce resources to production, distribution, and consumption at individual and collective level. As I said economics is a social science, it studies human behavior and societies. There is a huge debate going on about whether to include economics under STEM or not. The demand for economic professions is very high and the evolving labor market means that future economists must learn interdisciplinary approaches. There are many reasons for why economics should be considered a discipline under STEM education than under social science. The first one is economists employ major portion of Mathematics to develop models and communicate finding in numbers or statistical forms. Students of economics in undergraduate level are studying algebra, calculus, and statistics which they are using in statistical analysis/ quantitative research and decision making. To be a successful economist it is very important for students to have good understanding of mathematical skills. Secondly, the objective behind starting the STEM education was to develop professionally and qualified individuals who can easily overcome the challenges of the 21st century. It is making student acquire skills that are applicable in real world, economics is also promoting and developing the same objective. Furthermore, economics is encouraging students to improve on skills like critical thinking, innovation and entrepreneurship, teamwork, and civic responsibilities.
As we all know that the world is moving toward complete automations, maybe by 2050 onward we must live with machine and technology all around us. How are we prepared for these changes in the job market? There is a huge gap between what students are learning in the classroom and what skills they must demonstrate in the real job market. Students in the developed countries are learning new coding methods, are designing new scientific instruments, and are engaging themselves in real-life problem-solving situations and at the same time students in developing nations like Pakistan are struck in rote learning and getting highest marks in exams. The job market is rapidly moving from manual jobs to computer related jobs, all most all economic activities are to be carried out through fast moving computer network in the future. The whole world recently went under complete lockdown and with this the idea of working from home or remote work emerged. The question is were we prepared for it? The concept of offices will exist in the future, or everything will be done through fast and advanced computer network anywhere? Economics is all about labor and trade, when the whole world was under lockdown, only those labor survived in market who were skillful and were familiar with usage of technology. All those nations who were not efficient in the usage of technology, their economic activities dropped to zero level almost. This made it mandatory for every economic student to learn computer and different software’s.
In conclusion, if economics is not complete technology or mathematics, then it is a combination of mathematics, technology, critical thinking, decision making and solving real life problems. It is worthy to consider economics as a related field to STEM education. Our education system must make it mandatory for every student to be efficient in mathematics, technology, innovation, and critical thinking and here comes STEM education as our savior. It is helping our government to a bridge the gap between Pakistan and other advanced countries.