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Microeconomics in Context

Vietnamese Edition

The economic transitions of the late 1980s burst into Vietnam with a market system that developed at great speed, before there was a solid cadre of Vietnamese economists trained in market economics. In the early to mid 1990s the Ford Foundation, World Bank, and other groups organized training sessions in Vietnam, as well as some in other Southeast Asian countries (e.g., Philippines), to introduce Vietnamese teachers (many coming from other disciplines) to the principles of market economics. Most of these were crash courses of two semesters or less. Currently a few Vietnamese have gone to the U.S. or Europe for further economics education, but not many have had more than a single year of advanced training in non-Marxist economics. Some efforts have also been made to familiarize instructors with more interactive teaching methods, in contrast to the tradition of one-way communication from teacher to student.

The American faculty who went to Hanoi to participate in these programs included Thomas Gottschang from the College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, MA) whose previous experience had included development work and economics instruction in China. He found it difficult to relate the existing translated textbooks (e.g., Samuelson, Dornbush and Fisher) to the Vietnamese experience of an emerging market economy. In 1999 when he was back at Holy Cross as Chair of the Economics Department, and heard about Microeconomics in Context, he asked to see the draft that was being translated into Russian. Enthusiastic about its relevance to real social and environmental issues, Dr. Gottschang sent a copy to Dr. Pham Vu Luan, Rector of Hanoi Commercial University – an institution that Americans might call a business school, except that the majority of its 25,000 students are undergraduates.

Dr. Luan sent the text for review to members of his faculty, as well as the Ministry of Education (Vietnam had just passed a law that the Ministry would have to approve any economics publication). Pleased with the results, Dr. Luan assembled a group of ten faculty at the University, to translate the text and edit it to appropriately reflect the Vietnamese context. Dr. Gottschang secured a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund to support this activity, including funds for Hanoi team members to travel to the U.S. to interact with the authors of MIC.

In March, 2002, Dr. Luan came to the U.S. along with Hoang Van Kinh, the head of the University's International Economics Program, who has been a major participant in this project. They spent a week working with Neva Goodwin, Tom Gottschang, and the MIC team at Tufts, discussing remaining issues of content or interpretation, and plans for the future. They also participated in a panel discussion at Tufts on "The Practice and Teaching of Economics in Contemporary Vietnam," which included several friends of theirs who are based in this area and who had taught or studied in Hanoi since 1990.

Neva Goodwin and Dr. Luan

he first Vietnamese edition, called Transitional Microeconomics, was published in June 2002. Plans are under consideration to bring the lead author of the Russian Teachers' Manual for MIC to Hanoi, to assist in the creation of similar pedagogical materials for Vietnam. In August 2002 there was a week-long training sessions for the first group of Vietnamese who will teach from the new text. The course was attended by 135 instructors from around Vietnam, including 55 from Hanoi Commercial University. Copies of the text have been sent to the libraries of other universities.

The need to continue training existing and new economics instructors in Vietnam is enormous. For the last decade college enrollments have been doubling every 3 years. With tertiary enrollment now at 7% there is still room for this rapid expansion to continue for some time, requiring a continued increase in the number of faculty in all areas, but especially in economics. The Confucian tradition has given low status to commercial activities, so that men with access to higher-status opportunities often leave this area to women (who represent half of both the students and the faculty at Hanoi Commercial University). Nevertheless, economics is increasingly attractive to Vietnamese students, who seek to understand the workings of their burgeoning market economy.

To Purchase this Book:

Kinh Tê Vi Mô Trong Nên Kinh Tê Chuyên Dôi is available at the Library of Vietnam Commercial University, Ho Tung Mau Street, Hanoi. Tel: 844-8348405. The Library is open 8-11:30, 1:30-5:00 Monday-Friday. The book costs 75,000 VND.

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