Online Summer Academy 2022: Questions & Answers
About the Summer Academy
What is the Online Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics?
The Summer Academy for Pluralist Economics is an event by and for people who think that economics has more to offer than what is taught in most courses. The Summer Academy is an opportunity for interested students to engage with heterodox economics. The goal is to spark a debate about if and how these approaches can complement, challenge, or shift the economic mainstream.
The Summer Academy has taken place annually since 2017. The first three Summer Academies were held in Neudietendorf, Germany. In 2020 and 2021, the Summer Academy was held online.
Around 11 workshops dedicated to different economic approaches are at the core of the Summer Academy. In these workshops, small groups of around 10 students come together three times a day throughout a week to learn about one specific school of thought or an economic issue and work on a group project. The workshops are facilitated by experts in their respective fields.
The evening program is the Summer Academy's second pillar. Panel discussions and lectures invite the participants to engage with their fellow participants and topics beyond their workshops.
Additionally, there are open spaces and networking opportunities throughout the week. That way, the participants can engage with each other, and share and exchange perspectives regarding the Summer Academy's theme, their workshops, their view on economics and the economy.
Find an overview of previous Summer Academies here .
Who is behind the event?
The Summer Academy is organized by the Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V. (Network for Pluralist Economics) in cooperation with several partners.
Over the last years, the Network for Pluralism in Economics has become a dynamic student movement with substantial impact on debates surrounding the current state and future of economics as a discipline in academia. It is a member of the International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics (ISIPE) which unites more than 100 student initiatives from over 40 countries worldwide.
The Evangelische Akademie Thüringen is an educational institution of the Protestant Church of Central Germany, which contributes to public debates around democracy, freedom, and justice by organizing conferences, workshops, and other events. Its aim is to create a forum for exchange between people from different backgrounds and beliefs on the fundamental issues of humanity, religion, and the world.
To make this event possible, we cooperate with partners like the Evangelische Akademie Thüringen (Protestant Academy of Thuringia), Heinrich Böll Stiftung, Institut für Makroökonomie und Konjunkturforschung (IMK, Macroeconomic Policy Institute) in Düsseldorf, Germany and Young Scholars Initiative (YSI), to run this project. Our partners support the academic and organizational setup of the Summer Academy and/or contribute financially.
The planning is in the hands of an organizing team consisting of volunteers who (mostly) participated in earlier renditions of the Summer Academy.
Meet 2022's organizing team here.
About the 2022 edition
What was the theme in 2022?
In 2022, the theme was "Better Economics for a Better Future."
This title reflects the basic idea that economic paradigms shape societies and policies. Economic thinking paves the way towards our common future, and therefore needs to be critically discussed. The theme was an invitation to challenge economic orthodoxy and to engage with heterodox approaches. Is it possible to update mainstream economics to address today's challenges? Are there heterodox approaches which may be more suitable for understanding and explaining economic relationships and for guiding societal development? What kind of economics would enable us to build a more social and just future which is based on environment and life as transversal principles?
We are certain that in these times of unprecedented crises facing the world, having fundamental economic debates is not a luxury, but a pressing necessity in order to ensure we have the tools to engineer a better future. The pandemic did not disrupt a healthy, well-functioning global economic system. On the contrary, the majority of the world’s population has been feeling the consequences of the present’s multiple crises long before the Covid-19 pandemic appeared. The ecological crisis, unequal North-South relationships, the crisis of representation and growing economic inequalities, social polarization and discrimination, as well as an increase in forced migration. The pandemic has also surely exacerbated global inequality – especially regarding access to health, access to education, unemployment, inflation, distribution of resources (access to vaccines is one of the most recent additions to the list), and much more. These and more manifestations of today’s crises call for new responses that should be based on pluralist alternatives challenging economic orthodoxy.
Many students find their curricula lacking in this regard. The answers to current challenges that they are offered in their courses do not satisfy them. In fact, the vast majority of recent graduates from economics faculties have been unable to understand crises like the Covid-19 pandemic or the response of policy makers to tackle such crises. Thus, students are currently faced in class with mathematical models, built on often unrealistic assumptions, which do nothing to help them understand the reality in which the economy is anchored. Students miss radical, critical, and global perspectives that are sensitive to power and domination, are more humane, learn from the past and are open to the possibility of a crisis – to be able to better prepare for it. During the 2022 Summer Academy we aimed to provide students with the learning experience to think about the neoclassical paradigm’s role in handling different crises in the past and present, to consider what heterodox approaches could contribute, and to reflect on the part the study of economics can and should play in societal and economic transformations.
What were the workshops about?
The workshops can be thought of as the core of the online Summer Academy. Their overall goal was to complement the neoclassical mainstream of economic thinking by additional and alternative perspectives. Each workshop was dedicated to a specific school of thought or economic issue.
During the Summer Academy week from July 29 to August 5, there were fifteen workshop sessions of 90 minutes each that combined phases of interactive lecturing, collaborative teamwork, and periods of individual work. Each workshop group of around ten participants was guided by one or several facilitators. The workshop groups worked together in producing a common output to be made publicly available on the e-learning website www.exploring-economics.org. The groups' outputs can be used as a reference by future Summer Academy participants and as an e-learning resource by students and teachers all over the world.
For more information on this year’s workshop topics and the group outputs, click here.
What about the evening program?
We prepared intriguing panels and lectures of interest to all participants and the public. We were joined by speakers who are experts on and passionate about the questions at hand. They shared their views with us and were happy to engage in extensive discussions with the Summer Academy's participants and the interested public. The lectures and panel discussions are made publicly available so that participants from all time zones and all others interested can benefit from them.
Here you can find out more about the evening program.
How is a one-week online event even possible?
The Summer Academy aims to provide high-quality teaching as well as opportunities for participants to get to know each other, to discuss, and to exchange ideas. The workshops are interactive with an emphasis on collaborative learning. The evening program offers food for thought beyond the workshops and everyone is invited to shape the Summer Academy by participating in and taking responsibility for one of the open spaces.
Which platforms and tools were used?
We used Google Workspace which allowed us to chat, have video conferences, as well as to edit, store, and share documents.
Application & Participation
When and where did the event take place?
The Summer Academy 2022 took place from July 29 to August 5. The Summer Academy was held online. You can find the schedule here.
How was the application process organised?
The application was open from May 9th until June 12th, followed by a deadline extension until June 29th. We explicitly invited people from all over the world and from all disciplines to apply, provided they were eager to spend one week diving into heterodox economics and able to converse in English.
To apply, applicants needed to fill out the application form, write a motivational statement (max. 400 words), and prepare a CV (max. two pages).
More information on the application process can be found here.
What technical equipment was needed to participate?
The Organizing Team provided access to a video conferencing software and an online collaboration platform through Google Workspace.
In addition, participants needed a stable internet connection throughout the week as well as a device they could use for video conferences (computer or tablet with webcam and headset). This made it easier for participants to connect with each other, which was an important part of the Summer Academy.
Was there a participation fee?
Yes, we asked participants for a small financial contribution. However, we wanted to make sure that this cost does not exclude anyone from participating.
- The regular participation contribution was 20 €.
- Whoever is able to was asked to consider paying 40 €. Solidarity contributions helped others participate.
- If it is difficult for a participant to pay the regular contribution, we were able to find an individual solution.
We are thankful for our funders and partners who covered most of our expenses and allowed us to keep participation fees low.
How could participants receive ECTS credits for their participation?
The Pluralist Economics Certificate Project offered the option to receive 2 ECTS for participation and 5 ECTS for writing an essay. Similarily to a semester abroad at another university, participants could take their ECTS certificate to their home university and have them accredit the Summer Academy into their study programme. More information on this was provided at the beginning of the Academy. You can also check out our guide here!
The Certificate Project was launched in March 2019 by a group of people in the German speaking Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik to make pluralist economics more accessible to all students through course accreditation. We found that the Bologna system - introduced to make higher education in Europe more flexible but als more commodified - can be used to build our own economics curriculum, with more critical, up-to date and international content. For questions, feel free to contact the team (Anita, Janina and Rike) at certificate[@]plurale-oekonomik.de