The Ronald Tress Memorial Lecture: What we teach matters

Wendy Birkbeck
By Tim Phillips, editor, The CORE Project
Mon 6th November 2017 | Blog

On 23 October this year Birkbeck, University of London (an early CORE adopter) invited Wendy Carlin to give the Ronald Truss Memorial Lecture. Wendy chose “Trump, Brexit and Economics: What we teach matters” for her topic. The event was invitation-only, but fortunately for us, Birkbeck has posted the entire lecture on YouTube (Wendy’s contribution begins at 8 minutes):

Her lecture takes in why economists were asleep at the wheel during the last global crisis (“Macroeconomists did not understand money, banking or inequality… neither researchers, nor teachers”), and whether economists should blame the media for the criticism that has been heaped on them during the time since then. The argument is that they (we) share some responsibility: as Wendy says, this is “not just a failure to communicate. The overarching paradigm in which economics is viewed needs to be changed”… but you have to watch the video to find out why she thinks changes are needed, and how that change might happen. 

This is not just failure of economists to communicate. The overarching paradigm in which economics is viewed needs to be changed

If you’re more interested in economics teaching than economics reporting, there’s plenty here too on how the association between economics teaching and neoliberalism emerged after the 1970s, and how “a new generation of inspired citizens, journalists and policymakers” can roll that back to create an economic discourse that takes advantage of the best new research since then.

In future, she concludes, economics can be a way for everyone, not just academics, to understand the world. But first, “it requires us to think about economics as embedded in society, which is embedded in the biosphere.”

Thanks to Birkbeck, University of London, for making the video available.