This article discusses recent changes in the teaching of economics principles at universities, focused on the CORE project’s textbook, The Economy, which was developed in response to the Global Financial Crisis. The textbook aims to transform economics education to focus more on market disequilibria and power relationships than is typically the case in other first-year textbooks, and to cover in more detail issues of most interest to students such as climate change, inequality and the future of work. The article presents three key criteria for assessing a first-year undergraduate economics textbook and evaluates the CORE textbook against those criteria. This evaluation is also based on our experience teaching economics using CORE to a large and diverse cohort of students. We suggest that while CORE’s strength lies in the historical narrative approach and the relevance of its topics that can appeal to students’ interests, using the textbook to teach to large cohorts of students, especially students for whom this is their only exposure to economics, can be challenging. Despite these challenges, the CORE project has already fundamentally achieved its main goal of changing the way economics is taught. In recent years, other introductory economics textbooks have followed CORE’s lead, incorporating more real-world examples and discussion to illustrate economic concepts and theories.