Rethinking Economics: students ask important questions

Monday, February 2, 2015

“Economics is everywhere, it dominates our political discourse, and whether we want to or not, we all engage in the economy,” says Geoff Evamy Hill, co-founder of Rethinking Economics Waterloo. 

“We think everyone should have a basic and realistic understanding of how the economy works in order to participate effectively in economic issues that impact us all.”

Rethinking Economics poster
Rethinking Economics Waterloo is a student-led movement, aiming to unveil, rethink, and give voice to diversity in economics education and thought. Part of the international organization Rethinking Economics, the Waterloo chapter is one of the few groups of its kind here in Canada. Founders Alexandra Kraushaar (MA Philosophy candidate, Bachelor of Knowledge Integration graduate) and Geoff Evamy Hill (Bachelor of Knowledge Integration candidate) attended the annual conference in New York City last fall and found a community of like-minded students, academics, professionals, and citizens. “People were interested in asking questions that diverged from mainstream economics. We believe that pluralism can enrich learning in economics, but it took us a while to operationalize this belief,” Alexandra explains. “We want to give UWaterloo students, and the Waterloo Region community, a head start.”

Rethinking Economics Waterloo is hosting its inaugural conference on February 7th at St. Paul’s University College. The conference will cover diverse topics including ecological economics, feminism and economics, and economics curriculum reform. Speakers include faculty from York University, The Working Centre, and UWaterloo professors Dr. Patricia Marino (Philosophy), Dr. Lutz-Alexander Busch (Economics), and Dr. Jennifer Clapp (Canada Research Chair Global Food Security).

Alexandra and Geoff
Alexandra and Geoff hope that this conference creates a space for positive, intellectual discussion about how economics is viewed today, how people are engaging in economics in diverse ways, and the benefits of thinking broadly about economies and economics. “We want to contribute to the worldwide economic pluralism movement by showcasing what Canada has to offer.”

“The Rethinking Economics movement is very critical of economics, but we are glad to have the opportunity to bring another voice to the table,” says Margaret Insley, chair of the Department of Economics. Rethinking Economics Waterloo has received generous support from the Departments of Economics, Philosophy, and Knowledge Integration. The group also received a grant from the Faculty of Environment Dean’s Special Projects Funding as well as funding support from the Waterloo Environment Students’ Endowment Fund (WESEF).

“Economics is not just about markets and math, it is also about people,” says Alexandra. “It is important to ask questions and think about economics in terms of narrative and politics. Economics cannot only be left to professional economists because it has impacts for us all.”