Friday, May 27, 2011

What are your own expectations of a graduate economist?

Someone asked me this question and here is my response:

A graduate economists need to be under the impression of their future role in society, the awe-inspiring diversity and complexity of reality and the opportunities and limitations of the economic sciences to deal with real-world problems. The power that economics has in shaping policies and decisions comes with a lot of responsibility. Economic policies and decisions have deep and profound impacts on the wellbeing of individual people, on society and the earth we live in. A sense of what scientific abstraction means and a proficiency in the tools and models that comes with it is necessary, but not sufficient. The pervasive economic and ecological crises emphasizes again how important it is that graduate economists need to have a well-developed sense of the moral philosophies that guide ethically responsible choices in society and to know how and when to act to the benefit of society and the earth we share.

Any other ideas?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Preparing for Crete: Ecological crises and ethics

The following commitment to present at a conference on ecology, theology and environmental ethics in June is coming closer...


The question how to approach practical, ‘messy’ problems where problems are not well-defined remains actual. The ongoing financial and economic crisis, as well as an emerging ecological crisis, is an opportunity to reflect on deeper questions on how to approach and inform decisions in the real world.

Reflecting on close to fifteen years of personal experience in the field of environmental economic research and consultancy, coupled with a synopsis of what ecological economic theory has to offer, it will be made clear that solutions are not forthcoming within the fields of economics of ecology itself. Working towards a solution to the financial and ecological crises would include developing an approach that builds on a richer interpretation of the fullness of reality on an ontological level, and on an epistemological level includes at least three specific focus areas namely a systems approach to reality that take account of both nature and culture, an acknowledgment of and internalization of normative-ethical frameworks and the importance of visionary leadership.

These areas will be explored against the backdrop of developments in mainly the economic, but also in the environmental and policy sciences and with a distinct focus on the contributions of the Protestant-Christian tradition to a sustainable management of the earth’s natural and environmental resources.

Key words: economics, ecology, crises, systems theory, ethics, leadership, decision-making, Christianity, theology, ecotheology

I can't wait, but what on earth (no pun) have I let myself in for?