The Rethinking Economics conference took place in London two weekends ago, and provided the perfect opportunity to launch the website for the OIKONOMOS film. It was two days packed with talks and discussions on how we can rethink economics, bringing together a diverse group of students, academics and citizens (see program).
A recurring theme at the conference was the importance of pluralism. I showed parts of the film and participated in a session on how we can change the economics curriculum, together with (among others) Jack Reardon who is the editor of the International Journal for Pluralism in Economics Education.
Lord Adair Turner gave a keynote on "Economics after the Crisis", stressing the importance of the monetary system and speculation in land and real estate (arguments detailed in his new book). Ha-Joon Chang ended the conference with a keynote ode to pluralism, and spoke about his newest book, Economics: The User's Guide (currently on my bedside table).
For me, the best part about the conference was that it brought together engaged students who have been working to improve economics in their separate corners of Europe and of the world. The International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics has already achieved amazing results and news coverage with their joint petition, and this was the first time organizers could meet in person. Having the opportunity to meet and discuss issues and passions is the perfect fuel for a growing movement.
Now that support for improving economics education is beginning to grow, the next steps need to go beyond raising awareness and look at how we can change the curriculum in practice. Really, this is when the work begins. Although it is very easy to agree on that change is needed, it is very difficult to agree on what the alternative should be. Some of the questions that emerged at the conference (at least for me) were: What does pluralism look like in practice? How do we decide what to include in the curriculum? How do we work with economics departments and other institutions to make change happen? These are issues I think we need to ponder as the next academic year rolls around...
I'll end with some good news: Since I published the website 10 days ago, over 350 people have seen the whole film - that's like 35 per day. A lot of it is thanks to all of you sharing the link with your colleagues and friends - thank you all and keep it up!