Freedom of Thought at the University and the limitations on Ecological Economics
by Esther Velázquez
are many interesting topics that deserve discussion in these pages: the
Nobel Prize granted to Elinor Ostrom, the Copenhagen Climate Change
Summit and the protest led by the African countries, the much-debated
present economic crisis... However, I would like to take advantage of
this space to share a reflection that has been worrying me for a long
time now and that is freedom of thought at the University and the
limitations on Ecological Economics.
Spanish philosopher Ortega
y Gasset said, already in the 1930s, that "pedantry and lack of
reflection are the main agents of the vice of "scientism" suffered by
the university" (1930, 58). In fact, if we circumscribe this statement
to the faculties and departments of Economics, I would dare to declare
that in most of them the atmosphere is such that it restricts
reflection and imposes orthodoxy on the development of knowledge. This
orthodoxy defines Economics as a closed system in which the object of
study is reduced to producible goods that can be measured in monetary
terms, disregarding the environment in which production and consumption
processes take place (Naredo, 1987).
Although the isolated
condition of academic Economics was already pointed out by Leontief in
1982, the academic community continues to ignore other ways of
understanding and making Economics that are not strictly orthodox.
Therefore, little margin is left for careful reflection on a reality
that is further more complex than the one reflected by the most
elaborated mathematical model. Academic curricula in most Economics
departments are based on this allegedly undisputed concept of what
Economics is, which is thus transmitted to the students, limiting their
critical thinking and capacity to understand a multidimensional reality.
University must take care of freedom of thought and knowledge creation.
It is nothing but paradoxical that, being the University a thought
production institution, freedom of thought should be most limited and
punished in it. What are the reasons for so grotesque a paradox? Could
it be the fear of those who are only able to walk along the path of
orthodoxy? Or the fear of those who have borrowed their reasonings from
others? Of those who prefer to lose themselves in the grey and dull
mass of "positivism" and "mathematization"? Or rather of those who
prefer not to see the "evidence"?
Against orthodox Economics and
its limitations on thought and criticism, Ecological Economics offers a
transdisciplinary approach that aims to understand the complex world in
which we live. Ecological Economics moves forward and research
supporting this approach is published in scientific journals of high
academic prestige. However, as Spasch says (2009) it is important to
define the ideological and methodological boundaries of Ecological
Economics having in mind that "Ecological Economics, as a social
science engaging with the natural science, is a heterodox school of
modern political economy".
In addition to this effort that is
made to clearly delimit the objective of Ecological Economics and to
determine which works belong or not within this new paradigm, there is,
beyond research, another aspect that urgently demands our
consideration, and that is teaching. It is important that Ecological
Economics experts are able to elaborate and propose university degree
and postgraduate curricula for this discipline. This rarely happens,
and it is not because there are no valuable professors perfectly
capable of doing it, but because orthodoxy prevails from above
preventing the students from being introduced to a "discipline" that,
due to its "transdisciplinarity", escapes the tight restrictions
imposed by traditional economic conventions and dilutes the power that
the holders of orthodoxy believe they have.
For all these
reasons, it is important that institutions such as the International
and Regional Ecological Economics Associations solidly pursue along the
way opened before us by free-thinkers who dared to look at what was
evident. Ecological Economics Associations are making a great effort to
understand Economics differently and their members show it in the
articles they publish in academic journals and through their teaching
in summer schools and others courses. Nevertheless, it would be
advisable that these Associations tried to, little by little, influence
the official university degree and postgraduate curricula. It would
mean making a step further towards promoting among our students the
freedom of thought and critical spirit presently lacking in orthodox
Economics. "Will we at the faculties of Economics start to seriously
take care of these relevant questions (adopting the Ecological
Economics paradigm) or will we stay in the academic limbo controlled by
those who believe that Economics is just 'some other thing'?"
Aguilera Klink, F. 2009. "Una nota sobre la Nobel de Economía Elinor Ostrom". Revista Economía Crítica 8: 4-7.
Leontief, W. 1998. "Economía Académica". Archipiélago, 33.
Naredo, J.M. 1987. La economía en evolución. Historia y perspectivas de las categorías básicas del pensamiento económico. Ministerio de Economía y Hacienda. Secretaría de Estado y Comercio. Siglo XXI.
Ortega y Gasset, J. 1997. Misión de la Universidad, Revista de Occidente, Alianza Editorial, Madrid.
Spasch, C.L. 2009. Social Ecological Economics. CSIRO Working Papers Series 2009-08.
9th International Conference on Organizational Discourse: Crises, Corruption, Character and Change (Call for papers)
organizing is confronted by seemingly endless 'crises' which are
routinely projected through apocalyptic metaphor. Over coffee, we can
skip-read through today's 'ecological catastrophe', the 'global
financial meltdown' and 'the collapse of capitalism' before 'getting
down to work'. All of which suggests that the distance between our
discursive projections of the future and our inability to confront
those possibilities has, perhaps, never been greater. In the
post-whatever world we now inhabit, all appears to be simultaneously
terminal and – bizarrely – transient.
Hence, the theme for the
9th Conference has a narrative focus on the discursive construction and
re-construction of crises, character, corruption and change. At the
meta-level, the conference theme is intended to elicit papers which
address the discursive construction and re-construction of 'crises'. In
our view, linguistic framing is a fundamental aspect of how ‘crises’
are being manufactured, constituted, projected, perceived and addressed
(or finessed) at all levels of organization. Perhaps most problematic
is how we have depicted the character of these various crises for their
technical and global complexity invariably engenders over-simplified
description. In parallel, we appear to be experiencing a persistent
growth in corruption as manifest in the prevalence of institutional
practices which directly undermined the presumed core processes of
organizations and in our accounts of such seemingly corrupt behaviour
which privilege rhetorical dissimulation. These issues raise further
questions regarding the problems of continuity and the scope for
change. What is the role for, and status of, discourse(s) in relation
to change (or non-change). How does discourse shape
'character-formation' and possible responses to crises and corruption?
The conference will be held from 14th to 16th July, 2010 in Amsterdam.
The submission date is 15th January 2010. Notification of acceptance of papers will be given by 5th March 2010.
(1000 words max) should be sent as an email attachment (saved as a Word
document or a text file) to Tom Keenoy and Cliff Oswick at: Discourse09@cardiff.ac.uk
For full details see conference web page: www.cardiff.ac.uk/carbs/conferences/icod10.
Energy and Environment Week 2010
Energy and Environment Week 2010 (EEW 2010), co-located with "Energy
from Biomass and Waste" and "Hydrogen Expo", will take place in
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA from April 12 - 16, 2010.
delegates, EEW 2010 is affordable like never before. This brings more
prospective customers to your presentation and to your booth.
- biomass heat and power, anaerobic digestion
- energy from waste
- materials recovery from waste
- hydrogen, fuel cells
- energy efficiency
For a complete list of topics and to view the submission guidelines please visit: www.ee-week.com.
International conference: Geothermal Energy and CO2 Storage: Synergy or competition?
International Centre for Geothermal Research and the Centre for CO2
Storage at the Helmholtz Centre Potsdam - GFZ German Research Centre
for Geosciences would like to announce the International Conference on
"Geothermal Energy and CO2 Storage: Synergy or Competition?", 10 - 11 February 2010, hosted by the GFZ in Potsdam, Germany.
aim of the conference is an objectification of the ongoing discussions
in connection with the synergetic and competitive use of the
underground. It will present the state-of-the-art of geothermal and CO2
technologies and identify the interactions and requirements for
reliable reservoir management and monitoring.
During 2 days, the conference will feature keynote lectures and panel discussions with international experts including
Prof. Dr. Ottmar Edenhofer, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Germany
Dr. Jan Diederik van Wees, TNO-NITG, Netherlands
Dr. Subir K. Sanyal, GeothermEx, Inc., USA
Dr. Rick Chalaturnyk, University of Alberta, Canada
Dr. Tore A. Torp, StatoilHydro, Norway
conference will represent an outstanding forum for the exchange of
information and experience between experts from academia, industry and
politics. In addition to technological and scientific questions the
conference will highlight the challenges and impacts facing legal and
political frameworks and strategies for an environment-friendly use of
For more information please visit the conference website www.gfz-potsdam.de/GECO2S where general information and an outline of the conference agenda can be found.
Resilient Cities 2010 (Call for contributions)
- Local Governments for Sustainability and the City of Bonn invite you
to join the Resilient Cities 2010 Congress, to be held on 28-30 May
2010 in Bonn, Germany and present your experiences!
Cities 2010 is the first edition of an annual global forum which will
gather partners from all sectors for exchange, learning, networking,
debating and policy making on approaches and solutions for climate
change adaptation and resilience-building in cities and municipalities.
The call for contributions
is now officially opened and panel proposals and paper submissions are
welcomed! Share your experience and background and submit your
contribution through the online form available on the congress website www.iclei.org/bonn2010. The deadline is 31 December 2009.
High Level Conference "Growth in Transition" – discussion forum online
public discussion platform is designed to support the preparation of
the international conference "Growth in Transition" which will take
place on 28th and 29th of January 2010 in Vienna. The conference aims
at debating approaches for high quality of life and sustainable
prosperity for everyone. The conference programme is here available.
The conference initiators put the following topics (in the framework of ten thematic sessions) for discussion:
- Money and the Financial System
- Growth and Resource Use
- Social Justice and Poverty
- Macroeconomics for Sustainability
- Quality of Life & Measurement of Prosperity
- Regional Aspects
- Sustainable Production and Consumption
- Sustainable Management
case study of the Little's family - a representative upper middle class
family - illustrate the ten thematic sessions and aim to stimulate the
discussion. The outcomes of the discussion process of this forum will
be summarized and embedded in the conference.
Everybody is invited to join the online discussion on the official website www.wachstumimwandel.at! We are looking forward to receiving your comments!
International conference on "Energy, Water & Climate Change in the Mediterranean & Middle East"
The Energy, Environment and Water Research Center of the Cyprus Institute (www.cyi.ac.cy)
is organizing and international conference on "Energy, Water &
Climate Change in the Mediterranean & Middle East". It will be held
from 11th to 15th of January 2010 in Hilton Cyprus Hotel in Nicosia,
This conference will bring together distinguished
scientists, primary stakeholders, policy makers and high-level
officials to discuss the present and the emerging challenges posed by
climate change in the Mediterranean and the Middle East. In particular,
the conference aims to stimulate the discussion on adaptation
strategies through new technologies and management methods to minimize
adverse climate change impacts. There is a need for cooperative
management and publically acceptable strategies in order to address the
economical and societal consequences of climate change. The conference
will contribute to these efforts by:
- discussing the state-of-knowledge of climate change and its challenges
- setting the stage for cooperative strategies to cope with climate change impacts
- discussing energy and water policies and evaluating new concepts
- considering sustainable strategies and effective decision making
Monday, 11 January 2010
Tuesday, 12 January 2010
Climate change: are we facing a crisis?
Wednesday, 13 January 2010
Technological options and possible strategies
Thursday, 14 January 2010
Policy options and international initiatives
Friday, 15 January 2010
Discussion, synthesis and conclusions
More informations can be found here.
2010 EAERE-FEEM-VIU European Summer School in Resource and Environmental Economics (Call for applications)
European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE),
the Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei (FEEM) and the Venice International
University (VIU) are pleased to announce their annual European Summer
School in Resource and Environmental Economics for postgraduate
students. The 2010 Summer School will take place from the 4th to the
10th of July, at the VIU campus on the Island of San Servolo, in
Venice, located just in front of St. Mark's Square. The theme of this
Summer School is Climate Change Negotiations.
Pollution does not
respect political boundaries. Classic examples of transboundary
pollution include acid deposition, climate change, pollution of the
North Sea or the Black Sea, and damage to the stratospheric ozone
layer. Transboundary pollution can have regional effects on local
ecosystems (e.g., acid deposition in a particular country) or worldwide
impacts on global public goods (e.g., biodiversity loss due to climate
change). Countries should work together to address these pollution
problems – the responsibility for reducing the risks to local or global
goods should be shared among the nations that benefit from the
reduction. While countries do have a common interest to protect
themselves, they may or may not be individually interested in abating
pollution voluntarily at a socially optimal level. A country may thus
free ride off the abatement efforts of other nations, because no one
country can be prevented from enjoying the benefits of pollution risk
reduction, regardless of whether or not it contributed to the abatement
The purpose of the Summer School is to investigate some of
the key issues emerging from the economic analysis of transboundary
pollution, global public good problems, and environmental conflict. The
focus will be on climate change as an important example of a worldwide
environmental problem requiring global solutions.
The School will
be divided in two parts. The first part will be devoted to the
theoretical models on international environmental agreements based on
game theory. The review of the basic models will be extended to include
dynamic models and the analysis of uncertainty on the scope of
cooperation. The second part will focus on some of the climate-economy
integrated assessment models elaborated to evaluate the effects of
different climate policies.
ADMISSION AND SCHOLARSHIPS
Summer School is targeted to postgraduate students. Admission is
conditional on the presentation by each student of his/her doctoral
work; therefore PhD students who want to apply normally need to be
advanced in their PhD to have produced at least one substantive
chapter, but not to have completely finished their thesis. Application
is restricted to 2010 EAERE members, both European and non European
citizens. Given the highly interactive activities planned at the Summer
School, the number of participants is limited to 20. There is no
participation fee. All applicants can apply for a scholarship.
For further information on application and funding please access the Summer School Website at www.feem.it/ess/ or contact the Summer School Secretariat.
Second International Conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological Sustainability and Social Equity
second international conference on Economic Degrowth for Ecological
Sustainability and Social Equity is planned towards the end of March
2010 in Barcelona, Spain. It is organised by the Institute of Science
and Environmental Technology (ICTA), Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona (icta.uab.es), and the organization Research & Degrowth (www.degrowth.net). The conference follows the one held in Paris in April 2008 (proceedings available at events.it-sudparis.eu/degrowthconference/en/).
conference focuses on "socially sustainable economic degrowth", and
links economic, environmental and social perspectives, with an emphasis
on practical policies and concrete proposals. Papers accepted will be
presented as posters at the conference and included in the published
conference proceedings. A list of the best papers will be selected by
the scientific committee and included in special issues to be published
in scientific journals. A special issue with papers from the 1st
conference is under publication at the Journal of Cleaner Production.
Barcelona conference will have a special set-up, the focus being on
intensive workshops where groups of participants will discuss specific
policy proposals and research priorities. Selected speakers will also
give plenary speeches. The conference will mainly take place in
English, and translation will be limited. More information about the
conference is available at www.degrowth.net/-Barcelona2010. More precise information on venue and program will soon be available.
International Conference "Deltas in Times of Climate Change" (Call for abstracts)
two official Dutch research programmes on climate change and spatial
planning (Climate changes Spatial Planning and Knowledge for Climate),
the City of Rotterdam and the C40 (a group of the world’s largest
cities committed to tackling climate change) invite scientists,
politicians, policy-makers and practitioners to share their knowledge
and experience in a major international conference on climate
adaptation. It is held from September 29 – October 1, 2010 in
Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The conference pursues three main goals:
- exchanging up-to-date top science on climate change and delta planning
- strengthening international cooperation between deltas and delta cities
- exploring and strengthening the links between science, policy and practitioners
Authors who wish to present a paper or poster related to the scientific programme are invited to submit an abstract.
The abstracts have to be submitted before 15 February 2010, and will be expected to fit within one of the themes:
- Regional climate, sea level rise, storm surges, river run-off and coastal flooding
- Fresh water availability under sea level rise and climate change
- Climate change and estuarine ecosystems
- Climate change and climate proofing in urban areas
- Competing claims and land use in deltas under climate change
- Governance and economics of climate adaptation
- Decision support instruments for climate adaptation policy
- Climate and health in delta areas
- Managing extreme weather risks
More information is available at the conference website and the brochure of the conference.
Eco-economic Challenges of the 21st Century
conference Eco-economic Challenges of the 21st Century will take place
on 5-6 March 2010, at 'Alexandru Ioan Cuza' University, Iasi, Romania.
Abstracts may be sent until 8th of February 2010. For further details,
please contact Dr. Mioara Borza, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Dr. Costica Mihai email@example.com, or check the online announcements section of the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration, www.feaa.uaic.ro/ro/Cercetare - Conferinte/219
IPA 2010 - Call for papers
successful conferences in Birmingham (2006), Amsterdam (2007), Essex
(2008) and Kassel (2009), the 5th Conference on Interpretive Policy
Analysis in Grenoble will extend the complex investigation of meaning
and politics by exploring, in particular, current challenges for
discursive politics and policy practices. Interpretive Policy Analysis
entails diverse methodological paths aiming to explain current
challenges of politics. IPA 2010 stresses in particular the
relationship among policy, legitimacy and power. Current worries about
democratic deficits highlight the question of legitimacy and power and
invite reconsiderations of the very core of policy practice as an
analytic category through which policy analysts and policy planners
inspect the nature of politics that is at stake. Each paper
submission should include: (1) 300 - 500 words abstract, (2) paper
title (3) name of paper giver, (4) institutional affiliation and (5)
The call is open until January 31 2010.
Please follow the exact list of the panels at: www.ipa2010-grenoble.fr/call-for-papers.
15th Coalition Theory Network Workshop
The Groupement de Recherche en Economie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille (GREQAM) will be organizing the 15th Coalition Theory Network Workshop in Marseille, France, on June 17-18, 2010.
The Workshop will present the state of the art of theoretical and empirical research in:
- Coalition formation
- Network formation
scientific coordinators of the event will be Sebastian Bervoets,
Francis Bloch and Frédéric Deroïan. The scientific committee will be
composed by representatives of the Coalition Theory Network:
Centre d'Économie de la Sorbonne (CES) - Université Paris 1, Center for
the study of the Organisations and Decisions in Economics (CODE) -
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Center for Operation Research and
Econometrics (CORE) - Université Catholique de Louvain, Fondazione Eni
Enrico Mattei (FEEM), Groupement de Recherche en Economie Quantitative
d'Aix-Marseille (GREQAM) - Université de Marseille, Department of
Economics - Universiteit Maastricht, Department of Economics -
University of Warwick, Vanderbilt University.
More information about the Workshop is available at www.vcharite.univ-mrs.fr/~ctn2010.