ISIPE, 2 YEARS LATER
Already two years have passed since ISIPE published its open letter in order to bring attention to the lack of pluralism in Economics. During these past two years, a wide range of student associations from all over the globe have joined the ranks of ISIPE in fighting for pluralism at their home university and beyond.
To further consolidate the international movement and to share experiences and successes from all over the world, a 2nd General Assembly was held in Paris in April 2016. Over 70 participants representing dozens of groups from many countries in 5 different continents were present at the gathering. Alongside the publication of the international survey, new international projects were initiated. Progress was made strengthening the communication amongst the member groups of ISIPE.
In what concerns the last year, 2015-2016, member groups both locally and nationally have hosted numberless conferences, organized lecture series, have done media campaigns and got engaged in academic debate. A short overview of events and actions in a number of different countries follows.
We celebrated our 8th Congress of Critical Economics (Jornadas de Economía Crítica - JEC) in Río Cuarto, Argentina. It was a three-day conference in which students, professors and researchers from different countries and from different disciplines participated discussing their own articles or papers in “working groups”. Furthermore, we had three central conferences presented by distinguished researchers where we could discuss from different perspectives about the main local economic topics: agribusiness, perspective of subaltern classes and development. There were around 700 participants.
We have published the third number of our academic journal (Cuadernos de Economía Crítica - CEC), in this case specially dedicated to our education as economists. It includes an article made with the information we gathered to participate in ISIPE International Survey (titled: “The training of economists in Argentina and Uruguay: the distribution of hours per subject areas in our curriculas”), which analyzes the Argentinean and Uruguayan economic curricula from private and public universities.
We have also held our 5th Summer School of Critical Economics (Escuela de Verano de Economía Crítica - EVEC) in Santa Fe, Argentina. We had four days of workshops dedicated to different topics (related to heterodox perspectives, analyzing the actual social and economic reality of Latin America, etc.) with fruitful debates.
Also, each member group of the Critical Economic Society (Sociedad de Economía Crítica - SEC) has organized local activities in their own university (conferences, seminars, workshops, film debates, etc.).
Since its establishment in autumn 2013, the Society of Pluralism in Economics Vienna (Gesellschaft für plurale Ökonomik Wien) has been actively pushing for the inclusion of pluralism in economics. Numerous events, lectures and panel discussions were organized by the Society in order to 1) provide a platform for discourse between advocates of mainstream and heterodox economics, and 2) introduce research that uses unconventional methods and covers topics largely marginalized from the mainstream.
In November 2015, the Society hosted an event with Yanis Varoufakis, titled “Money and Power – Flooding Europe with Democracy“, attracting over 800 guests. Varoufakis presented his insights regarding the inner-workings of EU institutions, focusing on the interplay between mainstream economic theory and neoliberal politics on economic policy.
Due to renewed interest in the subject of pluralism, the Society has frequently been invited to participate at academic and political panel discussions, asked for written contributions (BEIGEWUM, blog.Arbeit und Wirtschaft), and has been prominently featured in Austrian and German media (Kurier, Format, DerStandard, FM4, Deutschlandfunk, Radio Helsinki, ORF, Science ORF).
Following a seminar discussing the teaching of economics in Quebec in April 2016, individuals and groups from different horizons have joined efforts to create a website called Visible Hand. Since then, the website has been growing and provides a space to share knowledge and publish ideas on heterodoxy and the teaching of economics. Upcoming successes in Canada include our participation to the Canadian Economic Association’s annual meeting and the 2016 World Social Forum. To paliate the lack of pluralism in our universities and the difficulty to make a change - very rigid departments - we have decided to create a summer program on post-keynesian economics in May 2016. One of our biggest struggles and objectives is to mobilise students in order to ensure a basic level of viability for the movement.
The Kritiske Politter group wrote an article in the website for economic students at Copenhagen University about the importance of economic pluralism. Also, a large effort was made trying to make the syllabus more oriented towards other schools of thought than neoclassical economics. This subject is still unfinished, but the staff at the University seem to be more ready for change now. Lastly, the group has hosted multiple events with speakers presenting a more pluralistic view on economics. These events have been on different subjects like macro-modelling based on perfect foresight and the dangers of a central bank with limited power.
At PEPS Economie we have translated and published our article in the International Journal of Pluralism and Economics Education: “The case for pluralism: what French undergraduate economics teaching is all about and how it can be improved.”
Furthermore, PEPS Economie hosted several panels at the annual INET conference at the OECD in Paris in April 2015. The group also wrote a review of the CORE teaching materials, which has been read and discussed by the CORE team. Regarding cooperation and partnerships, PEPS were invited to join round tables at the annual conferences of the two main professional Economics associations in France. Also, two high-level partnerships have been established: a partnership with the UNESCO Bernard Maris Chair called “Economy and Societies”, and a partnership with a new double degree in Economics & Geography at the Sorbonne Paris Cité that got a special grant to experiment with new teaching methods.
The German Network for Pluralism in Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik) now comprises 32 groups at German, Austrian and Swiss universities. In cooperation with the Research Institute for Societal Development (FGW), we are building the ‘Virtual University for Pluralism in Economics’, which aims to provide a multi-media self-learning platform for students interested in studying economics from a pluralist perspective. We have published a ‘reader’ in pluralism in economics and are working towards an anthology of pluralist economics, for which our members - especially those from our local group in Hannover - are co-working with several professors from German universities. A research project (‘EconPLUS’) on the content of economics teaching in Germany executed in cooperation with researchers from the University of Kassel is about to be completed. In September 2016, we organized a pluralist research conference to complement annual conference of the ‘Verein für Socialpolitik’, Germany’s biggest economics association. In November, we followed up on these efforts by taking the lead in organizing the “Teaching Economics in the 21st Century”-Conference.
As to partnerships and communication we were invited to promote pluralism on various events such as the Global Economic Symposium 2015 and have received widespread media attention. Our members have contributed articles, op-eds and interviews to national media outlets covering a wide range topics. Among other things, we criticized a scandalous suspension of publication of pluralist teaching materials in schools that a private sector lobby group had effected from the Ministry of the Interior.
Our university groups focus mostly on university-level issues and engage in self-learning activities such as reading groups or research colloquia. Many groups have started teaching themselves and organized ‘lecture series’ with a wide range of topics. Last semester (Winter-Term 2015/16) alone, student-organized lecture series were offered in Freiburg, Kassel, Göttingen, Berlin, Heidelberg, Halle/ Saale, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Tübingen, and Marburg. The group in Göttingen even won a regional prize for scientific/academic excellence. Many of the lecture series are filmed and uploaded to our YouTube-Channel. The Kusanus Academy, a newly-founded, private university - originally started by activists previously active within the Network for Pluralism in Economics - is dedicated to an alternative vision of economics education and has officially been accredited.
During the last year we organised a four-day summer seminar with students from 7 academic institutes. The seminar led to the foundation of 2 new groups, and a first assembly in which we decided on a structure for the Israeli network. We organised guest lectures and a tour discussing the current economic issues Israel is dealing with, and started negotiating with the Economics departments in our universities about changes in the curricula. We are planning two seminars for the summer, another tour and more lectures and events.
During its two-year long lifetime the Italian network has experienced a steep growth. At the moment there are 9 active local groups all over the country: Bocconi (Milan), Bergamo, Bologna, Cattolica (Milan), Firenze, Genova, LUISS (Rome), Sapienza (Rome), Trento.
The groups organized several seminars, workshops and lectures, as well as conferences. All the events attracted huge crowds of students and public attention. Conferences were held, amongst other topics, on the crisis of economic theory (Cattolica, Milan), on economic teaching (Florence; Trento), on Behavioural Economics, on TTIP (LUISS, Rome), on “Keynes: the return of the Master” and on “I Modelli nella Teoria Economica” (Sapienza, Rome).
Moreover a three-day festival of concerts and conferences was organized in Bologna as well as the summer school “Re-thinking economics” in cooperation with the ISS of Erasmus and a couple of Italian associations (EPIC and Punti di Vista) in Rome.
Most of the local groups got active in policy at university in order to get in dialogue with the professors and to change curriculum.
On the Italian YouTube channel interviews with professors of Rome are published.
The Italian network took part in the Biennale Democrazia festival in Torino, holding one of the main events which was also covered by the press (La Stampa). It is also planned that we meet at our first General Assembly at a national level this year.
In the NETHERLANDS,
Looking back, 2015 was a great year for the Rethinking Economics movement in the Netherlands. Inspired by our first local pluralism group in Maastricht (PINE), economics students from all over the country came together in April to start a national student movement. In August, two of our founding members were invited to debate with an economics professor on the national Dutch television programme, Buitenhof. This started a nationwide discussion, and we enjoyed a lot of media coverage and we’re invited to speak at different events. The general public is also very happy with our movement.
In December 2015 we joined forces with academics and professional economists, and founded Rethinking Economics NL (RE:NL), an official non-profit organisation. We got our first sources of funding, and are currently organizing our first discussion evening in Amsterdam, where we have invited philosophers, professors, and economists to discuss the role of the economist in the 21st century. More info: www.rethinkingeconomics.nl
In 2015, Coletivo Economia Sem Muros organized a conference with two invited speakers, to talk about the public debt crisis, especially in Greece. In 2016, we also organized a documentary cycle in at the Nova SBE University, called RevoluCine. We screened documentaries such as “Owners of Portugal”, “Can We Do It Ourselves?” and “Catastroika”, as well as a few others (a total of 5 documentaries over 4 weeks). As part of the social intervention, in which Coletivo also wants to engage in, the Colectivo contributed to and helped with spreading an undersigned document requesting better conditions for students, especially the decrease of tuition fees. Also, Coletivo Economia Sem Muros was present in the National Student Rally for better social conditions in the education system, which have deteriorated in the past years.
During the last year, the AEE (Association of Economics Students) from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid organised a seminar series. The topics covered by the seminars were about different points of view in Economics, like Feminist economics, development aid, degrowth. We organised three debates. The first debate was about Venezuela and its economic situation. The other two debates were about the candidates’ programs in the running for the general elections, one about general policy and the other specifically on the economic programs. We are planning one seminar about alternative macroeconomics: post-Keynesian, Marxism or quantum economics.
In the UNITED KINGDOM,
The Rethinking Economics annual London Conferences (at UCL 2014, at Greenwich 2015) brought together several hundred participants. Speakers included Daniel Kahneman, Claire Jones, Ann Pettifor, Ha-Joon Chang and Frances Coppola.
On top of drawing attention to the importance of curriculum change in economics, RE has been working with various parties to lobby for this change. For instance, our members have been involved with the creation of the new benchmark statement for economics by the UK’s Quality Assurance Agency for Higher education.
Furthermore, RE took steps to reach adults often intimidated by the discipline. In London RE was invited to the Barbican, London, to run a number of jargon-busting workshops with the Financial Times' Claire Jones and Positive Money's Frank van Lerven. In Manchester we piloted our first Community Crash-Course in Everyday Economics.
In March 2016 the website ecnmy.org was launched, which explains economics in an accessible way and shows the connection that economic issues have to our everyday lives.
In the UNITED STATES,
RE US organized the Rethinking Economics New York Conference (12-14 September 2014 at the New School, Columbia University and NYU) with close to 1000 participants, speakers included Nobel Prize Laureate Paul Krugman, Michael Sandel, Deirdre McCloskey, Philip Mirowski, James Galbraith, Willem Buiter.
The Open Economics Uganda group, which has come into existence only quite recently, formed a reading group that meets every two weeks and discusses a book, “The Elusive Quest for Growth.” In April 2016 Open Economics Uganda organized an event titled “Who is an economist?” with the Dean of the Makerere University Economics department and a practicing economist as panellists. Over 200 students from different disciplines and from different universities attended and discussed among others questions of methodology, interdisciplinarity, critical thinking, and the application of economics to today’s complex economic challenges.