New website aims to help people think like economists

A network of students and academics aims to promote public economic literacy as well as reform the curriculum

October 1, 2016
Falling steps made of one American dollar bills
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It may be known ‘the dismal science’, but economics informs all our lives

 

A new website has been launched to encourage young people and the wider public to learn more about and engage with economics.

Ecnmy.org was created by Rethinking Economics, which was set up in 2012 and describes itself as “an international network of students, academics and professionals building a better economics in society and the classroom” through “a mixture of campaigning, events and engaging projects”.

Although the core membership is 40 student groups in 15 countries, they enjoy strong support from academic economists such as Robert Skidelsky and Ha-Joon Chang as well as Andy Haldane at the Bank of England and Financial Times’ chief economics commentator Martin Wolf.

The goal of Rethinking Economics, explained communications officer Calum Mitchell, is to “challenge the current way economics is taught” and to “supplement the single model of the economy” often taught in universities with other perspectives.

Among barriers to “ensur[ing] that universities are hiring an intellectually diverse community of academics capable of teaching the economics we want to see”, the website points to the fact that “funding for university departments (and thus faculty salaries) is often allocated by a national judging panel”. Since “these are often dominated by prominent neoclassical economists”, they are “unlikely to award funding for research and teaching that does not match their own understanding of economics”.

Yet alongside reforms within higher education, the Rethinking Economics network seeks to “democratise economics” and create “citizens confident in discussing economic issues and…holding economic decision-makers to account”.

The website is specifically designed to achieve this by cutting through jargon and showing how economic ways of thinking can illuminate many aspects of our lives. It offers news, entertainment and even sport.

Although the editorial team is based in London, Mr Mitchell said that they already have “scheduled contributions from all six continents”, with topics covering everything from the American presidential debates, the refugee camp in Calais, the ailing Greek economy and Syrian voices on social media to food choices, prison reform and treatments for HIV/Aids.

The new site was officially launched on 29 September at a quiz night where comedian Sara Pascoe attempted to answer the question “How many jobs does Beyoncé’s hair create?”

matthew.reisz@tesglobal.com

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