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Steve Cohn


Steve Cohn

Charles W. & Arvilla S. Timme Professor Emeritus of Economics

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401



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Ford Center for the Fine Arts

Charles W. & Arvilla S. Timme Professor Emeritus of Economics

Steve Cohn

General Interests
"I am interested in methodological debates in economics and alternatives to neoclassical economics, the dominant paradigm in American economics. In my classes I try to illustrate how thinking about economics in different ways can lead to different conclusions about how to respond to macroeconomic and environmental challenges and how to think about political-economic topics like social inequality. I try to teach students how our thinking is often constrained in ways we are unaware of by paradigms, that is, by the theoretical spectacles we use to view the world.

My research deals with the same themes. In my book Reintroducing Macroeconomics: A Critical Approach (M.E. Sharpe, 2007), for example, I critique standard neoclassical economic textbooks from a "heterodox economics" perspective. The critique challenges neoclassical texts from a common ground shared by Post Keynesian economics, institutionalist economics, feminist economics, ecological economics, radical economics, and Marxist economics. I am especially interested in methodological debates within environmental economics. My book, Too Cheap to Meter: An Economical and Philosophical Analysis of the Nuclear Dream (State University Press of NY 1997), addressed some related issues with respect to the economics of nuclear energy. My most recent book, Competing Economic Paradigms in China: The Co-Evolution of Economic Events, Economic Theory and Economics Education 1976-2016 (Routledge 2017), explores the impact of paradigmatic thinking on the evolution of Chinese economic theory.

Years at Knox: 1984 to 2022

Ph.D., Economics, 1986, University of Massachusetts.
M.P.A., Public Affairs, 1976, Princeton University.
B.A., American Studies, 1969, Amherst College.

Teaching Interests
Macroeconomics, environmental economics Marxist economics, the Chinese economy and Chinese political-economic thought.

Selected Professional Accomplishments


Competing Economic Paradigms in China: The Co-Evolution of Economic Events, Economic Theory and Economics Education 1976-2016. New York: Routledge, 2017.

Reintroducing Macroeconomics: A Critical Approach, M.E. Sharpe, 2007. 

Too Cheap to Meter: An Economic and Philosophical Analysis of the Nuclear Dream (State University Press of New York) 1997.


"Western Neoclassical vs. Marxist Economics in the PRC after Mao: another kind of revolution?" in The Diffusion of Western Economic Ideas in Asia, edited by Malcolm Warner. New York: Routledge, 2017.

"Some Costs of American Corporate Capitalism: A Psychological Exploration of Value and Goal Conflict." Co-authored with T. Kasser, S. Kanner, A.D., and R.M. Ryan. Psychological Inquiry 18.1 (2007): 1-22.

"Common Ground Critiques of Neoclassical Principles Texts." Post Autistic Economics Review 18, 2003.

"Heterodox Critiques of Supply in Micro Principles Texts." Review of Radical Political Economics 33 (2001): 343-350.

"Two Pedagogical Suggestions for Teaching Marxism," Political Economy Conference, Amherst, MA. April 28-29, 2016.

"The Evolution of Western Economic Thought (Orthodox and Heterodox) in China," presented at the 3rd Triennial Conference of the International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics, University of Massachusetts, November 2011.

"Socioeconomic Changes in a Rural Village in Thailand 1979-2000," a paper co-authored with Nancy Eberhardt and presented at the 16th annual conference of the International Association for Feminist Economics, Ramkhameng University, Bangkok, June 2007

"Common Ground in Critiquing Standard Principles Texts: Sample Chapter Critiques," a paper delivered at the Association for Evolutionary Economics, ASSA meetings, January 3-5, 2004 San Diego, CA..

"Integrating Post Keynesian and Other Heterodox Ideas into Principles Courses." Invited talk at the Eighth International Post Keynesian Workshop, Kansas City June 2004.

"Heterodox Hypertexts: Using the Internet to Knit Together Heterodox Economics, jointly authored with Geoff Schneider. Paper delivered at the ICAPE (International Confederation of Associations for Pluralism in Economics) Conference on the Future of Heterodox Economics, June 5-7, 2003.

Campus & Community Involvement

  • Co-Chair of Peace and Justice Studies program
  • Member of the Asian Studies program and Environmental Studies program.
  • Consultant and Director, Micro and Macro Critique workshops for the Global Development and Environment Institute.
  • Past member, Steering Committee of the Union of Radical Political Economists (URPE).
  • Visiting Scholar and Director, Micro Critique Workshop, Department of Economics, University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
  • Visiting Professor at the China Studies Institute in Beijing.

What Students Say
"Professor Cohn stresses the importance of understanding alternative ways of thinking about economics. The questions that he poses to his students are ones that he himself has spent a great amount of time grappling with, and any student willing to engage in his paradigmatic approach to economics will find themselves finishing the term looking at many aspects of their lives and education differently. Engaging, wonderfully accessible, and incredibly thoughtful, Professor Cohn represents the kind of egalitarian-spirited faculty endemic to Knox who will make your journey through the liberal arts infinitely enriching."
-Max Potthoff, Environmental Studies Major

"Professor Cohn strengthens independent thinking by providing us with multiple perspectives, yet allowing us the freedom to pursue the paradigm of our choice. It's not just an analysis of various economic perspectives; instead Professor Cohn offers a deep understanding of the interconnectedness between economics and society. When you first enter the class, he challenges us with dense and high-level readings, which by the end of the term have made you a better student, a more expert learner, and a wiser human being."
-Bo Ram Lee, Economics Major and International Relations Minor

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Printed on Wednesday, April 24, 2024