Rethinking Economics NHHS established
The students Hugo Poitout and Thomas De Muck, from France and Belgium, respectively, have established Rethinking Economics NHHS.
‘The idea popped into my head when I was reading “Doughnut Economics” by Kate Raworth. It's a fantastic book! It communicates a brand new way of presenting economics for the 21st century, and it got me thinking about how important it is that we take a step back to ask questions about the theories we learn,’ says Hugo Poitout.
Thomas De Much was aware of the international Rethinking Economics network, and the boys saw this as a golden opportunity to start a local branch of the already well-established Rethinking Economics Norway. The network's goal is to enrich and democratise the discipline of economics by drawing on different economic perspectives. Together with another local branch in Bergen, they want to invite economists and non-economists alike to take part in seminars and discussion groups.
‘We want to work hand in hand with the other Rethinking group in Bergen. Joining forces with other institutions creates more diversity of opinion and more discussion. That’s our vision: creating discussion,’ says Hugo.
‘Our vision means to be brave: to dare to criticise and ask questions. Even if people do not agree with us that the economics subject needs new input, they should come,’ says Thomas encouragingly.
Open for everyone
The NHH students base their work on the network’s goal of making people more confident that they can understand and discuss economic problems. Together with Rethinking Economics Bergen, they plan to invite everyone who is interested to jargon-free discussion groups. This way, the Bergen groups will work together to minimise the gap between what the politicians are saying and what the people understand.
‘In collaboration with the Bergen group, we will organise monthly informal discussions of various topics. Last Tuesday, we discussed the potential problems of a Citizen's Basic Income,’ says Thomas.
‘We want the group to develop democratically, and, together with the city group, we have decided that anyone who's interested can play a part in deciding the monthly discussion topics. This is done by people voting for the topic they want to discuss on Facebook,’ says Hugo.
‘In addition, we will post a report after each discussion meeting on Facebook, as well as on our website, which is still under development,’ he adds.
Pluralism in education
Rethinking Economics Norway wants more pluralism in economics education. The French-speaking students were not familiar with this aspect of the network, but they think that allowing for more critical approaches to theories and professional practices is a good idea.
‘At the second meeting with Rethinking Economics Bergen, I learned that one of the network's goals is to contribute to changing the curriculum. I think that's very exciting,’ says Hugo.
The boys have the impression that NHH already has a realistic approach to economics, but, in their opinion, that does not mean that there is no room for improvement. The boys imagine that it could be beneficial to have a good dialogue with the persons responsible for academic content to discuss how NHH can improve its curriculum.
‘We don’t think there's anything wrong with mainstream economy. It's a good basis. But it's important to be able to criticise in order to learn and open new doors. We think that economics studies need some new input,’ says Hugo Poitout.
Therese E. Sverdrup, Vice Rector for Innovation and Development, takes a positive view of Poitout and De Muck’s initiative.
‘Rethinking Economics has student organisations all over the world, and it’s great that NHHS will now have its own group. We want to educate students who have the ability to ask good questions and are capable of critical thinking, and group discussions are a good opportunity to practise these skills. It’s also exciting for NHH that the students discuss and formulate alternative points of view on economics which can then be brought back to our staff.’
‘And if they’re able to keep up enthusiasm and draw people to their events, they may also trigger an interest among people outside the economics field and among future NHH students.’