After Criticism, Mankiw to Donate Textbook Royalties to Charity

Economics 10 textbook
A copy of the 7th edition of "Principles of Economics" by Prof. N. Gregory Mankiw, who teaches Economics 10.
UPDATED: September 20, 2017 at 12:21 p.m.

One year after the College’s largest class mandated that students purchase a $131 set of course materials, Economics 10 professor N. Gregory Mankiw is sticking with the system—but donating all royalties from the materials to charity.

Last year, Mankiw announced that students in the College’s introductory Economics course would have to purchase access to an online learning platform with a roughly $132 price tag to access required review materials, problem sets, and quizzes. Though Mankiw said at the time that he had negotiated to obtain a lower price for the course, many students criticized the move, arguing that the materials were too expensive for a popular introductory course.

This year, the 633 students enrolled in Economics 10a will still be required to purchase the course pack. But, in the course’s syllabus, Mankiw wrote that he would now “donate to charity all royalties earned from Ec 10 students’ purchase of these materials.”

Mankiw also noted in the syllabus that the course package also includes materials for the second semester of Economics 10, for a per-semester cost of about $66.

Still, some current Ec 10 students said they felt that the mandatory course package—which cannot be resold—was too expensive for the course, a gateway to the economics department and other social sciences concentrations.

After Ec 10 mandated the $132 course pack, the Committee on Undergraduate Education added a question about the cost of course materials to the Q Guide.

But for George F. Wang ’21, another Ec 10 student, the cost is worth it.

“I think it’s important to keep things in perspective. We’ve already paid close to tens of thousands of dollars for a Harvard education,” Wang said. “I think, if you are here at Harvard and make the most of Harvard and that takes an extra $100, so be it.”

Some also criticized the online software itself.

“In all honesty, I don’t find it that helpful,” said Davis J. Tyler-Dudley ’20.

Thomas H. Baranga, the head section leader for the course, acknowledged in an email that “the MindTap software is imperfect,” but wrote that he thought most of the problems had been cleared up.

—Staff writer Caroline S. Engelmayer can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @cengelmayer13.