Individual Goals and the Common Good

Teaching Economics in American Studies


  • Carmen Birkle Philipps-Universitaet Marburg
  • Elisabeth Schulte



individual goals, common good, interdisciplinary teaching, critical thinking, utility concepts


While interdisciplinary research has frequently been discussed, interdisciplinary teaching is only gradually making its way into both practical teaching and theoretical investigation. We designed a class in American Studies, Economics, and Greek Studies  on “Individual Goals and the Common Good: Perspectives on Utility Concepts from Ancient Greek Literature, American Studies, and Economics.” In this essay, we describe the development of our methodological approach, the individual and common goals that guided us, the challenges that we encountered, and the extent to which we achieved our goals. We also reflect on the lessons learnt about the challenge to integrate perspectives from Economics and American Literature.  A successful integration of perspectives requires the teachers’ and the students’ willingness to go beyond disciplinary boundaries and their mutual respect for disciplinary approaches and conclusions that may be foreign to them.  In all disciplines, knowledge of the past and awareness of general mechanisms in social interactions are necessary and helpful tools in the analysis of present-day structures, entanglements, and changes. We argue that interdisciplinary teaching is an effective way to enhance the students’ (and the teachers’) potential to think critically about these phenomena and a necessary step to overcome C. P. Snow’s two-and three-culture divide.


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Author Biography

Elisabeth Schulte

Elisabeth Schulteis a Professor of Institutional Eocnomics in the School of Business & Economics, Philipps-Universität Marburg, Germany. Her major research interests lie in the areas of information generation, information transmission, and information aggregation in strategic contexts. Email:

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How to Cite

Birkle, C., & Schulte, E. . (2024). Individual Goals and the Common Good : Teaching Economics in American Studies. Journal of Interdisciplinary Studies in Education, 13(1), 19–29.