Economics is for Everyone: Organising an (un)conference – balancing work with more work

For a project that began over six months ago, with numerous skype calls discussing lofty goals and a somewhat ambiguous vision, it certainly feels surreal to be sitting at the end of day two of Boom Bust Boom Bust thinking ‘how hasn’t something gone wrong?!’

I quickly remembered we still have a day left, so there’s still time. Barring any last minute calamities, however, I can honestly say that organising this event has been an absolute pleasure and a hugely rewarding experience too. There were times when I questioned my involvement; perhaps completing the third year of a Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree was enough for the time being. Making the transition from outlining our goals to actually getting things done was such a time, and recurring dreams of a conference going wrong in bizarre ways made me question whether I was in too deep.

Small triumphs throughout the planning process kept me going though. Composing press releases and cold calling journalists bore fruit when ‘Boom Bust Boom Bust’ got mentions in the Guardian and Times Higher Education. Every ‘retweet’ and ‘share’ was like a mini-victory when promoting the event through social media. Advertising for volunteers, at first with little success, seems so worth it now that I can see the (un)conference being staffed by helpful and enthusiastic students – students I hope will become more involved with Post-Crash Economics in the future!

Now that the day is actually here, it’s great to be able to reflect on some of my favourite moments. A workshop on curriculum change was an opportunity to catch up with old friends from the pluralist economics movement around the UK, and to hear of inspiring work from staff at those universities beginning to make changes. Chairing Martin Wolf’s keynote speech was an unusually nervous moment for someone not too bothered about public speaking, but by the end I wanted to miss half of lunch to take more questions. And sitting in briefly on the Citizen’s Crash Course in Economics, with attendees from all walks of life critically discussing economic narratives in the media, confirmed that we had achieved in some way what we set out to do – to make the discussion of economics something everyone can participate in.

Being a part of organising Boom Bust Boom Bust and working with the rest of the team is something I am immensely proud of. Squeezing this is alongside work and the remains of some form of social life has been tough, but today it seems so worth it. I urge those thinking about getting involved next year to do so, because we want an event next year that is even more ambitious.

 

Calum Mitchell, 3rd Year Politics, Philosophy and Economics student, Post-Crash Economics Society Committee member

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