Written By Gregory Fischbach

January 17, 2023
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Economics for Hawai'i Teachers class photo (Gerard Dericks seen top row, far-right)

Economics for Hawai'i Teachers class photo (Gerard Dericks seen top row, far-right).

In 2022, HPU launched their highly successful "Economics for Hawaiʻi Teachers" course as a free resource for all Hawaiʻi teachers. The course was designed to give teachers the opportunity to strengthen their economic understanding and impart effective pedagogy to integrate economic principles into their lesson plans.

The three-credit course is taught by HPU Director of the Center for Economic Education Gerard Dericks, Ph.D. Dericks was born and raised in Hawaiʻi, attended HPU as an undergraduate, and earned his Ph.D. from the London School of Economics.

“In this course, I aim to teach economic principles and the history of economics in a fun and engaging method,” said Dericks. “HPU’s economics education course is designed to impart Hawaiʻi teachers with a solid understanding of core principles of economics, and to provide course materials and lesson plans for teachers to more easily transmit this knowledge in their classrooms.”

Economic education is increasingly vital in advancing the health of our nation’s economy. When a student understands economics they are able to not only make better life decisions for themselves, but this greater understanding also creates positive spillovers for society, as a better-informed electorate leads to better policy, which in turn leads to better economic outcomes for everyone. 

A student in the Economics for Hawai'i Teachers' course presents to the class

A student in the Economics for Hawai'i Teachers' course presents to the class.

The HPU course provides teaching materials, including videos, lesson plans, podcasts, and on-going teacher support; it is aligned with the Hawaiʻi core standards in social studies. The course is available for professional development credit and for all teachers of all subject grades K-12. No previous knowledge of economics is required.

“With sustained commitment I believe we can see the majority of Hawaiʻi high school social studies teachers take this course, and I want to make sure that every teacher has the opportunity to do so” said Dericks. “There are tremendous benefits for teachers that include the opportunity to bring additional economic insights into their classrooms while earning three university credits applicable to their professional development.”

Dericks noted that the summer 2022 course enrolled five teachers, and in fall 2022, the number jumped to 18. With spring enrollment now open, Dericks expects to see the number grow to close to 30. His goal is to have upwards of 60 teachers in two classes each semester that is held once a week at HPU’s Aloha Tower Marketplace.

Student feedback has been positive with teachers remarking that, “[the] course objectives were clearly met with added instruction on economic principles based on the National Council for Economic Education Voluntary Content Standards in Economics,” and that, “Dr. Dericks is an excellent instructor [who] provided content that is applicable to teachers at all school levels: elementary, middle and secondary education.”

Hawaiʻi has a long history of teaching economics education in the classroom. The Hawaiʻi Council of Economic Education (HCEE) has been training Hawaiʻi  teachers in economics since 1965. HPU’s course is taught in collaboration with the HCEE. Teachers can apply for the course online and it is taught in the evenings. The course runs for eight weeks and is free to all grade K-12 Hawaiʻi public and private school teachers 

To apply for the spring 2023 teachers are encouraged to email Dericks at

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