Online Summer Academy 2022: Workshops

The workshops are dedicated to different schools of thought or specific economic issues. Along with the evening program, the workshops are at the core of the Summer Academy.

In the workshops, small groups of around 10 students meet three times a day for a week. In total, each workshop consists of 15 sessions of 90 minutes each that combine phases of interactive lecturing, collaborative teamwork, and periods of individual work.

The workshop groups will work together in producing a common output to be shared with the other groups at the end of the Summer Academy.

The workshop facilitators are experts in their respective fields and committed to diversifying teaching in economics.

Find out more about this year's workshops:

Sustainable Finance

Anne Löscher (University of Siegen, Germany)

The world is on fire – as Greta Thunberg put it. Though we have “only” reached an average global rise in temperature of 1.2°C compared to preindustrial levels, we already experience dramatic changes: extreme weather events have quadrupled since the 1980ies. If we continue on the current emission path, we might cause the earth to warm up by 4°C on average until the end of this century (IPCC, 2019). The resulting storms, droughts, floods, desertification, extreme temperature shifts etc. have fundamental macroeconomic consequences: food inflation is projected to rise, imperilling food security; the destruction of infrastructure, production sites and household wealth as a result of the physical effects of the climate crisis impact balance sheets of countries, firms, households and financial institutions with destabilising effects for the financial system and the economy as a whole; and transitional risks coming with policy decisions to shift towards a low-carbon economy such as the EU’s plan to become carbon-neutral till 2050 yield the risk of stranded assets with further destabilising effects (Batten, Sowerbutts and Tanaka, 2020; Bolton et al., 2020).

These developments also affect financial markets, its agents and regulatory bodies. The volume of financial assets classified as environmentally or socially sustainable has jumped from around US$400billion in 2012 to about US$1.300billion in the second quarter of 2020 (Belloni et al., 2020) – a rise by 325%. The Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) was founded in 2015 as result of a G20 summit’s decision to include financial risks in financial regulation frameworks. Institutions like the Network for Greening the Financial System (NGFS) – a conglomerate of different central banks and supervisory bodies – followed in 2017. The worlds’ biggest financial investors such as BlackRock (BlackRock, 2021) and JPMorgan (JPMorgan Chase&Co., 2021) are jumping on the train by promising enormous portfolio restructurings.

Aim of this intensive workshop is 1.) to introduce the participants to the macroeconomic workings of the climate crisis as the background of sustainable finance; 2.) to introduce financial assets with ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) criteria attached to them and their markets and important institutional players; 3.) to provide a critical perspective on the current setup of sustainable finance; 4.) and to work on in-depth case studies illustrating the workings on ESG-finance markets, its emitters and traders as well as their macroeconomic implications.

Previous knowledge on financial markets is not required. The workshop will be conducted in English, however, brief explanations can be given in German, too, if needed.

 

Decolonizing Economics

Michelle Meixieira Groenewald (North-West University, South Africa)

This workshop seeks to embolden participants to ask questions, rather than to provide definitive answers. It will fundamentally ask whether we can, or even should use the word ‘decolonising’ in our pursuit of a better economics? Both participants and lecturers, will also be encouraged to reflect on their own situatedness in how they have come to “know”.

It will advocate for participants to think through the process of co-creating the theoretical ideas, and practical implications of what it might mean to decolonise economics. It must be emphasized that this should not be seen as a prescriptive set of rules that must be followed. Rather, this is an opportunity for broader points of discussion on decolonising; to reflect context specific realities (Chelwa, 2016 & Bassier, 2016), to de-centre Western ideas in economics (Alves and Kvangraven, 2021), to “[democratise] knowledge from its current rendition in the singular into its plural known as knowledges” (Ndlovu-Gatsheni, 2018) – to name but a few.

In drawing from postcolonial and decolonial scholarship, this workshop seeks to actively reconsider existing power hierarchies, including those in a ‘classroom’ setting. As such, instead of all the content being chosen solely by the lecturer, participants will be encouraged to also add a participant-chosen-topic to the week’s lecture materials. So too, in the spirit of co-creating, participants will actively be able to choose what form they would like their workshop output to take.

Whilst other disciplines have engaged far more deeply with the debates and contestation around what it means to decolonise, the economics discipline has barely begun to grapple with this vitally important topic. Zein-Elabdin and Charusheela (2004), argue that postcolonial thought could provide a “cross cutting ‘frame’ in which we may rethink a variety of important heterodox traditions within Economics”. This idea will be explored further in this workshop, as an opportunity for deeper engagement.

The workshop will close by reflecting on the application of the contributions made throughout the week, in terms of how to begin to decolonise the teaching of economics. As students, academics, scholars, researchers, activists, policy-makers and community members – it might be relevant for us to ask: who are we teaching, what are we teaching, how are we teaching, who does the teaching and what opportunities and challenges exist as we teach?

 

Political Economy based on Karl Marx

Eleni Papagiannaki (Birmingham City University, England)

Our understanding of the economy is contested. In the last 20 years economics has experienced a period of introspection in the light of three major crises (the Dot Com Crisis, the Global Financial Crisis and some would argue the Covid one), which impacted the wealth of almost all nations, and particularly the deterioration of the conditions of the working class. While mainstream economic analysis fails to predict and provide solutions to these global problems, there are schools of thought that are doing better in this field. It is now broadly recognised that understanding Marx’s works would not only be an essential element of a robust economics curriculum, but also prepare students for work as practitioner economists, developing their critical faculties as a person, and ultimately changing the world.

This workshop offers you an introduction to the major works of Karl Marx particularly the concepts of Value, Surplus Value, Exploitation, Falling Rate of Profit, Capitalist Crises, Rectification and Wars, while also outlines the explicit links to the contemporary Marxist analysis to assess capitalism today. 

Upon successful completion of the workshop, you will be able to 1.) demonstrate familiarity with the work of Marx, particularly with the concepts of Value, Surplus Value, Exploitation, Falling Rate of Profit, Disproportionality, Capitalist Crises, Rectification and Wars; 2.) develop understanding of the links between the perspectives of Marx and contemporary (present-day) analysis based on the Marxist school of economic thought; and 3.) comprehend and articulate the ongoing relevance of Marx’s approaches in national, international and global context.

 

Development Economics

Rukmini Thapa (Independent researcher)

In a class where participant candidates are selected at an international level, we can naturally expect that they may belong to nations/districts/cities which are at different stages of development and therefore the experiences of ‘development’ itself can vary. The experience of partaking in the benefits of growth and development varies also across race, ethnicities, religion, gender, class and caste identities and political establishments. This short course makes a modest attempt at addressing these differences as the core values of a heterodox view of research in ‘Development Economics’.

The course begins with the theoretical foundations of Development Economics. It then empirically demonstrates and deconstructs uneven development. Case studies from the global South will be discussed to associate linkages between class struggle, social relations, the political economy of differentiation, unequal capital and human resources and the process of capital accumulation in understanding uneven development.

The crux of this course, however, lies in visiting active debates on how the field of Development Economics is undergoing drastic changes in the ways it is practiced and taught in the recent times. There is rising fetish for empirics, numerical representations, micro and macro data-centric studies, computer enabled analysis, statistical dominance, laboratory-like controlled trials and impact studies, and behavioural approaches; all at the cost of undermining the strength of pluralist approaches that cuts across disciplines in social sciences. This new tradition is being celebrated and endorsed as the best practice in teaching Development Economics. It is expected that the participants, at the end of the workshop will be able to assess how the central focus of research and teaching in ‘Development Economics’ has been changing, as it traversed its way since the 1940s to the contemporary times.

 

Feminist Economics

Natalia Flores Garrido (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa)

The workshop will follow an interdisciplinary approach, establishing dialogues between economics and sociology.  The economic system will be understood as a social and political reality, questioning the artificial separation (imposed by neoclassical thought) between the economy and other realms of human existence.

This is, we will not focus on how women are affected by capitalism, but on how we become gendered subject amidst capitalist relations of production and reproduction.

To better grasp the interactions between gender, race and capitalism, we will follow an intersectional approach, using this theory to question the universalistic category of Women, as well as binary approaches (men vs women) that, although useful to analyse some gender inequalities, more often than not leave out of the analysis other differences and axes of power like race and class. We will particularly discuss this in relation to women’s participation in the labour market, and women’s work of social reproduction. We will analyse how gender, race and class are present in these two realms, and why we need a feminist movement able to understand these differences in order to build a more just society.

 

Economics of Discrimination

Tanita Lewis (SOAS, University of London, England)

In order to address discrimination, we must understand and address its fundamental basis of systemic oppression. Stratification economics goes beyond myopic mainstream conceptualisations of discrimination and recognises the historical, institutional, and structural factors that create and maintain socioeconomic disparities and hierarchies. To critically approach the economics of discrimination, this workshop will focus on stratification economics, a systematic and empirically grounded approach to addressing intergroup inequality (Darity, 2005). Focusing on racial discrimination, we will discuss the core elements of stratification economics, critically evaluate its relevance, and apply these understandings to construct case studies and solutions for change. In our discussions, we will consider an array of topics, including intersecting oppressions, reparative justice, and the role of knowledge production in overcoming injustice and creating a better world.

Learning objectives include to 1.) critically evaluate the economics of discrimination through an anti-oppressive, racial justice-centred lens; 2.) understand the core elements, methodologies, and ideological underpinnings of stratification economics; and 3.) apply these understandings to case studies of oppression and discrimination against people of the global majority.

 

Future of the Commons

Friederike Habermann and Simon Sutterlütti (Commons Institut, Germany)

Commons stand for a plurality of practices ‘beyond market and state’ as the famous Commons scholar – and first female nobel prize winner of economics – Elinor Ostrom put it. Their practice and theory challenge classical economic theory and stand for a different mode of caring, producing and governing. Within this workshop we want to dive into theory, practice and utopia of Commons following four blocks:

Our first block will be dedicated to understanding Commons. Different approaches to analyze Commons were put forward, and in discussion with Garret Hardin’s ‘Tragedy of the Commons’, neoclassical commons theory, Ostrom’s school and others we try to understand history, well-known commons projects – such as Wikipedia, common pastures or community-supported agriculture – and the everyday practice of Commoning – the practice of producing Commons.

Our second block investigates the relationship of Commons and other forms of socioeconomic provisioning such as market economy and state-planned economy. Commons activists and theorists put Commoning forward as a third-way of economic re/production that is essentially democratic, care-oriented and develops a non-colonizing relationship towards our natural surroundings. We will evaluate their criticism of market and state-planned economy and discuss their claims.

As Commons usually are thought to be small-scale or niche-phenomena in our third block we take a look at theories that try to upscale Commoning to a society-wide mode of coordination, caring and production such as Ecommony, Care-Economy or Commonism.

Our fourth block is dedicated to the question of the socio-ecological transformation. Commons theoreticians and activists criticized existing transformation theories for devaluing or even neglecting the importance to not only reform existing structures, but to create and even live a different economy. We will discuss these claims and ask what part Commons could and should play in a socio-economic transformation.

 

Pluralist Economics for a Sustainable Economic Future

Sarah Lange (University of Siegen, Germany)

The way the contemporary economy functions destroys our planet and thus the future of our human existence. The recent findings of the 6th IPCC report highlight the importance of rapidly changing the way we think and act economically at the individual, macroeconomic and economic policy levels. What contribution can Plural Economics make to the urgently needed change of the economic system towards sustainability and global responsibility?

To answer this question, the concept of plurality will be developed at the beginning of the workshop, followed by a demarcation of economic mainstream and heterodoxy based on selected schools of economic thought. The participants will explore the necessity of an ecological transformation e.g., based on the 6th IPCC report.

In the following sessions, the participants will explore different economic approaches as an answer to the climate crisis. One day each will be dedicated to approaches from (1.) the field of growth with new attributes e.g., green growth, (2.) alternative concepts outside the growth logic e.g., post-growth economics and eco-socialism as well as (3.) new economic and social forms with a focus on human well-being. All approaches will be critically questioned by the participants and discussed in an open debate.

The workshop will be an interactive mixture of shorter inputs, discussion of lecture and prepared reading. The contents are creatively developed e.g., by means of a "battle of economic approaches". The participants should put themselves into new perspectives e.g., by means of role plays, and complement each other. As guest speakers, Prof. Dr. Dr. Helge Peukert will present some insights from his latest book "Climate Neutrality Now" and (probably) Prof. Dr. Gustav Bergmann will give an insight to his concept of a democratic “Mitweltökonomie”.

Due to its overview character, the level of the workshop is mainly aimed at bachelor students but is open to anyone interested in the contents. Above all, interest, and enjoyment in working on economic and socio-political issues as well as the willingness to admit different views are the most important requirements for participation to this workshop.

 

Health Economics

Julia Chukwuma (The Open University, UK)

Health Economics traditionally involves two distinct strands. One focuses on the application of core neoclassical economic theories of the firm, the consumer and the market to health-seeking behaviour and other health issues. It suggests a role for government intervention only in the case of specific market failures (for example externalities, asymmetric information, moral hazard, and public goods) that distort market outcomes. The second strand is evaluation techniques, used to assess the cost-effectiveness of competing health interventions.

However, these two strands apply only one version of economics – neoclassical economics – to health, and do so in a problematic way. In this workshop we aim to critically engage with Health Economics, rooted in neo-classical economic theory, and to present and discuss alternative perspectives relevant to global public health. These include Keynesian, political economy, feminist and ecological perspectives, paying more attention to health inequalities and planetary health. We will touch upon topics such as the shift from the movement for comprehensive primary healthcare throughout the 1970s to the promotion of selective primary healthcare with the ascendency of neo-liberalism in the 1980s to contemporary calls for Universal Health Coverage; the colonial roots and practices of global public health; the increasing reliance on the private sector in healthcare delivery; as well as public policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Political Ecology, Degrowth and the Green New Deal

Riccardo Mastini (University of Barcelona, Spain)

The first day of the workshop is intended to initiate students to the foundational concepts of political ecology, with special emphasis on the manifold dimensions of environmental justice. Political ecology investigates the social distribution of environmental costs and benefits and their social drivers. It does so by deconstructing concepts that are taken for granted like “nature” or “the economy”, excavating their ideological origins.

After laying these foundations, on the second day of the workshop we will venture into the theory of degrowth. Degrowth is, first, a critique of the ecological consequences of economic growth. The faster we produce and consume goods, the more we transform and damage the environment. Second, economic growth is no longer desirable. The costs of growth exceed its benefits. Growth has become by now “uneconomic”. Third, growth has always been based on exploitation. Without a surplus, there is no investment and no growth. To have a surplus, capitalists or governments must exploit someone, somewhere.

The question on everybody’s mind at this point will probably be: what would a degrowth economy look like? On the third day of the workshop, we will look at some of the flagship policy proposals articulated by degrowth scholars and activists. These policy proposals are an attempt at reforming the institutions of property, work, and money to ensure social inclusion, economic equality, and ecological sustainability.

On the final day of the workshop, we will engage with the emerging political discourse of the Green New Deal. This discourse postulates the need for an active role of the State in the economy to drive the ecological transition. To do so, Green New Deal advocates aim at deploying the power of public investment and coordination is a historic break from neoliberalism. However, for this discourse to be up to the task of staving off the mounting global ecological breakdown, the theoretical and policy insights provided by degrowth must be incorporated into a socio-ecological transformation.

After completing the module, participants should be able to analyse the concepts of degrowth, ecological unequal exchange, Green New Deal, and embeddedness by applying theories situated within the fields of academic research of Ecological Economics and Political Ecology.

 

Inequality in the Post-pandemic Era

Hanna Szymborska (Birmingham City University, UK)

The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the deep structural rifts in modern capitalist economies. It has exposed and exacerbated the long-lasting systemic inequalities in income, wealth, healthcare, housing, and other aspects of economic success across a variety of dimensions including class, gender, race, regions, and nations. This workshop explores the causes of economic inequality in contemporary capitalist economies and its consequences for the economy and society in the post-pandemic reality, as well as what steps can be taken to alleviate economic inequality in the future.

The workshop will encourage you to reflect on your personal experiences of inequality and aims to challenge the way in which the issue is typically approached in economics. Drawing from a variety of theoretical and interdisciplinary insights, you will study:

  • What the different dimensions of economic inequality are;
  • How economic inequality is measured and what the implications of the different methods of measuring inequality are for our understanding of the scale and the severity of the problem;
  • What the main debates are on the role of inequality in achieving economic success – is some degree of inequality inevitable or should inequality be actively reduced?
  • What causes inequality according to different schools of thought in economics;
  • How economic inequality can be alleviated through economic policy.

The workshop will consist of live online lectures, asynchronous guided reading sessions, and independent study sessions. The live lectures will outline the key concepts and debates on each of the above topics, while the asynchronous guided reading sessions will allow participants to explore different types of evidence (including academic articles, policy reports, and online media such as blogs, news articles, etc.) to analyse the key issues covered in each topic. During the independent study sessions, participants will work in groups to produce a short written research report analysing the taught aspects of inequality in a country chosen by each group.

The workshop will be highly interactive and participants will be invited to share their reflections during the live lectures as well as in the group project. In addition to academic knowledge, the workshop will equip you with practical transferrable skills including quantitative research skills (descriptive data analysis, computer skills) as well as qualitative research skills (critical thinking, critical reading, literature review) and the ability to draw evidence-based insights for policy action.

 

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This project is brought to you by the Network for Pluralist Economics (Netzwerk Plurale Ökonomik e.V.).  It is committed to diversity and independence and is dependent on donations from people like you. Regular or one-off donations would be greatly appreciated.

 

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