Majandusküberneetika õpetamisest Tartu Ülikoolis. On Teaching Economic Cybernetics at the University of Tartu

Tiiu Paas


The curriculum of economic cybernetics was one of a kind in Estonia. This interestingly called curriculum was opened at the Tartu State University (TSU) in 1967, and 25 young students of economic cybernetics were admitted. Before that some earlier scholars had also completed a similar curriculum in TSU on the basis of a special programme. Students who had completed the curriculum received a diploma that listed economist-cyberneticist as their specialty (in case of some graduating classes also economist-mathematician). During 1972–1996, 25 regular classes of economic cyberneticists graduated from the university, and there are altogether 462 alumni of economic cybernetics.

The structure of the TSU’s curriculum of economic cybernetics proceeded from pan-Soviet standards and obligatory subjects that had to be included in a curriculum. Yet, there was a small leeway in building a curriculum. Lecturers also had quite a lot of freedom in presenting the content of specific subjects, especially in the case of subjects that united knowledge about mathematics and economics, as well as offered opportunities to use mathematical methods and contemporary computing technology for analysing and planning economic processes. It took students five years to complete the economic cybernetics curriculum. Study practice and doing empirical research projects with an applied output played an important part throughout the studies. Students were expected to be very independent, creative and to make a large individual contribution in doing their research work. The teaching primarily relied on the learning-by-doing principle.

As a conclusion it can be said that the curriculum of economic cybernetics allowed the Soviet-time graduates from the Faculty of Economics to get an economic education that was largely independent of the ideology of the socialist economic system and based on a good knowledge of mathematics. The economic education that the graduates received allowed them to cope well on the labour market and in quickly changing circumstances, even when people had to adapt to the requirements of market economy, and when large rearrangements needed to be made also in the field of economic science and the respective education. In connection to the extensive rearrangements in economic education and curricula that started in the 1990s, economic cybernetics smoothly transitioned into the specialty of economic modelling, and the process ended with the opening of Quantitative Economics—a new international English-language curriculum—in the Autumn of 2014.

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