Krannert’s Purdue Center for Economic Education website on Economics and Art was the brainchild and pet project of Purdue professor and director of the PCEE, Prof. Michael Watts, until his death in December 2014. Watts was well known for seeing economics in everything around him, including literature and art. His goal in creating the Economics and Art website was to make it easier for instructors to find and use art to teach economic concepts to their students. The site features slide shows of work by various artists including Hokusai, Diego Rivera, and Norman Rockwell, along with slide shows based on particular economic topics such as Capital Resources & Technology, Leisure & Recreation, and Economic Functions of the Government. Discussion questions for students are included at the end of the shows.
Watts’ article, “Using Art (Paintings, Drawings, and Engravings) to Teach Economics,” Journal of Economic Education, 43 (4), 408-422, 2012, discusses using this form of visual learning in economics. It describes his Economics and Art website and includes techniques for using the art featured in the website.
It is unfortunate that Professor Watts did not live to publish the book on economics and art that he had envisioned. His Economics and Art website, however, the culmination of hundreds of hours of research and compilation, continues to be maintained and is available to all who wish to take advantage of this unique and valuable resource.
Using Art to Teach Economics – Journal of Economic Education