Young Scholars Initiative

Young Scholars Will Bring New Economic Thinking

Look around and you’ll see that the economic problems facing us today are many. Even worse, the most pressing of these problems pose a daunting challenge even to analyze in their full complexity, let alone solve.

It may seem that implementing any credible solution within current political and economic institutions is at least implausible, if not impossible. So why am I hopeful about the future?

Because I’ve seen that the new economic thinking we so sorely need is being pursued with great enthusiasm by young people around the globe. These are the people who best understand the failures of the current system and possess the creativity to change it.

The good thing about youth is that it does not shy away from a challenge, but rather instinctively embraces it. Climb that peak or ski that backwoods slope, but also throw your mind into exploration of a new approach to unsolved intellectual problems and your energies into overcoming obstacles that have defeated all previous efforts. More than anyone else, the young exemplify the idea that a challenge embraced gives life its meaning.

And in this next generation of innovative thinkers lies the burgeoning potential of the new economic thinking of tomorrow.

But recently that potential has too often been stifled.

In economics, professional education has privileged the mastery of sterile technique over the development of inherent creativity, and professional promotion has put the private game of currying personal favor before the public good of tackling important social problems.

The consequence is that economic thinking has failed to rise to meet the challenges of today, leaving the would-be solutions in the hands of the uninformed. Here is the fundamental origin of the policy failures that surround us today: It is a failure of thinking.

Toward a solution

Everyone knows this, and many deplore it, but the real question is what to do about it.

The basic problem is not so much to inspire the new economic thinkers of tomorrow—they have inspiration aplenty already—but rather to nurture their development and promotion. They are ready to climb the peak, but they need support and encouragement throughout the years of hard training in preparation for the tasks they set themselves.

The road that ultimately leads to climbing the peak is a long one, perhaps decades long. Young scholars are eager to make the journey, and a few will inevitably make it, even without help. But our needs today are greater than what can be supplied by the existing inefficient system of intellectual production that wastes the talents of so many.

Development of a new generation of economic thinkers requires development of a new pipeline through which those thinkers can progress, from novice to journeyman to master. Technology is part of the solution, since it offers to the curious mind access to myriad sources that have been lost in standard economics training. But access without organization is noise, not information. And satisfaction of curiosity is a private pleasure, not necessarily a public good.

Ultimately the new generation of thinkers will have to become self-sustaining, with each stage in the pipeline supporting the development of the one just before. And ultimately this new generation will impose its own organization on the myriad sources at hand, and draw its own conclusions. We cannot know in advance how all this will develop. What is needed now is a pluralist approach, one that widens the range of current economics teaching as a way of widening the range of future economic thinking.

For example, economic history and the history of economic thought offer an incredibly rich diversity of past experience and thoughtful response to that experience. But these subjects are not taught as a standard part of the economics curriculum and hence are not readily available in most educational programs. This can be changed.

Another example: Given the failure of economists to rise to the current challenges, the vacuum is being filled by the works of other social scientists, physicists, and computer scientists. Here again we find a rich diversity of responses, now to current experience, responses that are not taught and hence not readily available to aspiring young economic thinkers. This too can be changed.

Supporting the next generation

This is the task that the Institute for New Economic Thinking is undertaking with its Young Scholars Initiative. Through a host of programs such as special classes, seminars, and summer and winter schools, and other special events, the Institute is supporting the young thinkers of today who want to learn a realistic and relevant economics and want to change the discipline for the better. By providing the infrastructure and material support, as well as the access to leading new economic thinkers like Joseph Stiglitz and Adair Lord Turner, who can serve as mentors, the Institute is leading the charge for the new economics of the future.

The key point is this. New economic thinking requires new economic thinkers. But new economic thinkers have to be produced. New economic teaching and new economic community are the essential inputs to that production. There are young scholars all around the world are endlessly inspired and creative. But they need help and support. Their potential is a resource society cannot afford to waste.

Working with these young scholars every day, I know that we can meet this challenge of giving them the support they need. And that with the right support they can climb that peak. I’m optimistic.

This article originally appeared on Yahoo! Finance

 

Comments

0

Thank you for saying this. The obstacle I see is that young scholars need recommendations for their careers to progress and generally only get recommendations from the professors who trained them to think like them. Do you know that Einstein could not get a recommendation from his committee? They implored him to think like them and focus narrowly. When asked why he would not Einstein said, "I want to know how God thinks."

Its still very much about who you know and how you flatter them. I know from my own experience of following my own path in order to respond to the practical needs of organizations seeking transformation. With a PhD in sociology I have formulated a new model of the firm, The Sustainable Firm, drawing on business literature that is empirically based. Its comprehensiveness as a systems theory makes it harder for specialists to understand. I present 8 principles that shape 10 areas of the firm: how the new strategy changes specialized functions of sales, marketing, design, operations, management, accounting, finance, organizational culture, and ecosystems. This is done in comparison to the shareholder firm and stakeholder firms.

It took many years to complete a long article and my closest friends say it is clear. I need more resources to develop it further. I studied at Berkeley and MIT.

I only know of one book that attempts a new model of the firm by a consultant, so it is not in categories that can engage the field of economics very well.

0

What brings new economic thinking is AL´s 1968 book and from there on...What´s the matter here (and there and everywhere)?

0

My study was very important, but it was not the content of the courses. As far as I can judge, I have used only little of actual content in my scientific work. A specific study is normally so specific, that it is almost natural that you have to acquire that knowledge on the job. Thus I do not think that changing the curriculum is that important. If it is important, than more in the the way it shapes what is seen as a legitimate field of study.

In my view the most important part is that people that take creative routes and are not supported by the orthodoxy can find support elsewhere. Here INET can be important. Especially, if INET would support researchers and not (short term) projects. Given the large amount of noise in the review system for project proposals, even the best researcher cannot base his career on project science. We need a kind of support that signals a researcher that as long as you do a good job, you will be supported.

0

I have done new economic research into

    effective demand

. The new models are opening up new perspectives on the economy. I work out of my house and am unaffiliated with any organization. I have no idea how to go about publishing my models. So what did I do? I started a blog and published my research as it developed. I have over 60 posts already with lots of graphs and equations. There is more to come.
Sometimes I wonder if INET would be interested in my research, but I am realistic. No one will help me. So I publish in a blog for two reasons, it motivates me and it leaves a public record of my work.

Here is the basic post on what Effective demand is...
http://effectivedemand.typepad.com/ed/2013/03/what-is-effective-demand.html

-1

I haven't been through an economics course, but those I know who have appear subjected to some kind of religious indoctrination rather than education.

Taking some of the more ideological elements out of that process would help I think. However I can't help feeling that does not strike at the heart of the problem.

From my perspective, I see a society that is dominated by the finance sector. All the organisational geniuses, all the best IT guys, and all the money is still in the finance sector. It's a beast that seems to feed on the absorption of the rest of the economy. Even worse, this symptom is aggravated by rescuing financial institutions while other industries suffer in the crisis. The result as I see it is that in the smaller towns outside the capital, unemployment is rising, and the best people are leaving their businesses to come and work in the city...in the finance sector. (Ok , Australia has mining instead, but it's an exception)

The end result in my opinion is that people all end up taking a certain mindset - they're all subject to the same kind of thinking that permeates these institutions when they are employed there. Basically, if you're in the sector, it's about keeping your head down and doing your office job, or it's about advocating derelugation and an eternal deluge of debt to be placed on the others. Traders just trade without thinking about the long term effects. Settlement people try to settle effectively. People making retail loans try to make retail loans. HR managers do their job. Etc etc. There is no real coordination, no real leadership, just managers trying to keep their best guys, defend their budgets, fire the deadwood, and hire more good guys.

I think, and perhaps as Victor suggests above, that the education comes in the office, in the workplace.

To break this cycle, what we need to do, and what we really SHOULD do, is get these IT geniuses, and top managers, and operations gurus, and designers, and etc, OUT of the finance sector, and into hospitals, factories, research labs and etc.. If the medical industry could have had the same resources for bioinformatics as the finance sector had, then many cancers could already have been a thing of the past.

Once the talent is out of the banks and back where it belongs , then I am sure what we would eventually see is completely different economic thinking...much less influenced by the dogma of deregulation and much more about the practicalities of state funded education and infrastructure. Once the constructive industries are generating real growth through innovation and continuous improvements in quality and freedom all over the world, and once the money is there as much as in the finance sector, the politicians will be subject to lobbying from people with a spectrum of radically different worldviews. Then changes in economic thinking will become policy, I think.

0

Economic knowledge/Truth is probably the biggest monopoly in modern times, just comparable to that of the Scholastic´s in the Middleage.

It would be nice to start developing micromodelling of economic´s as a branch (a quite outstanding one!!!!) of Monopolistic (virtual)market.

0

I wrote a comment speaking of economics as a sort of monopolistic market (of knowledge). In it I even suggested that it might be a research-subject within the field of microeconomics.

0

Changed by chinese young economists?
So We should prepare for Maoisteconomics!

0

Would it be better for those young economics thinkers to grow under Social Democracy countries, such as Northern Europe countries, to gain most supporting, and gloriously climb to peak in Capitalism Democracy countries, such as US?

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