Lord Keynes has posted an interesting blog piece on the fact that his namesake, John Maynard Keynes, never actually received a formal economics degree. While it is often pointed out that the founders of the formal discipline of economics were often trained in a traditional liberal arts setting, often emphasizing philosophy and the Greek and Roman classics, it is interesting that as late a figure as Keynes did not receive an economics degree.
My own impression of modern academic economics is that it is a very closed system that does not allow for much curiosity on the part of students. It is notoriously diffcult for economists in the so-called heterodox schools to find work in the academy, so they often must teach the neoclassical orthodoxy to make a living, even if they think the orthodox approach is seriosuly flawed.
In a November 7, 2011 blog post, economist Bill Mitchell does a great job discussing the changes in economic course offerings since the end of the Cold War. Economics departments once offered courses in comparative economics, economic history, and even Marxian economics. This broader perspective has been largely jettisoned in favor of a neoclassical orthodoxy that attempts to ape the natural sciences (especially physcis), but ends up looking more like astrology than astronomy.
Finally, the narrowness of focus in most economics departments is especially harmful because it limits the range of public discourse on economic matters as journalists must rely on the "expertise" of orthdoox economists or run the risk of being accused of slumming among "fringe" figures. The result is that the media simply reflects the biases of the academic economic establishment, which is itself dependent upon private businesses and the governments they control for funds and prestige.