On the evening of Tuesday the 27th of September, the society held a workshop to discuss topics that we believe should be studied as part of an economics degree. We had tables discussing the recent Rio Olympic games, tax havens, the role of the IMF and World Bank and the possibility of a basic income.
The debates got heated at times, with people polarising on either side of the argument, disagreeing at times on the most fundamental premises of eachother’s argument. These topics stimulated a discussion of questions that cut to the very numb of economic thought. Questions like: who creates wealth? What motivates people? And who deserves this wealth?
In discussing these topics themselves and getting such well thought out and articulate responses from students, many of them first years, to us here at PCES confirmed our conviction that economics should be more pluralistic, quite because people are capable of making valuable contributions to these debates, despite not being a qualified economist.
While there was much disagreement over the topics themselves, there was no disagreement over the importance of discussing them and what can be gained by the very process of debating them.
One student said that: ‘I think this makes you better at thinking’, and she wasn’t the only one who picked up on the critical thinking development. Others picked up on the communication and arguing skills that would be developed by this kind of approach.
These are the kind of skills that really help you out in the working world as we’re sure a lot of major employers would agree.
Sadly, we did seem to be ‘preaching to the converted’. I counted about 3 people for every 20 that that did not study a humanities degree.
It was also sad to hear people say things along the lines of: ‘well I don’t study economics so I wont be coming,’ on being given a leaflet advertising the event.
We still clearly have a lot to tackle here.
This was nonetheless, a great little exercise in a new pluralistic economics where anyone can have a voice and be respected.
The pizza was also kind of nice.