Festival for New Economic Thinking

Festival for New Economic Thinking in Edinburgh
Edinburgh skyline and Scottish Parliament

The first Festival for New Economic Thinking took place in Edinburgh on 19-20 October 2017.

The concept of the Festival is to bring together organisations and individuals in order to provide a forum to share ideas and resources with students, academics and the wider public, to improve the way economics is taught, studied and practiced.

SOAS delegation

SOAS University of London was a contributing partner at the festival and was represented by faculty staff Ourania Dimakou, Ioana Negru and Satoshi Miyamura, PhD students Simon Dikau and Christina Laskaridis, and undergraduate student Jonathan Arentoft.

Jonathan Arentoft

As well as being a second-year student on the course BA International Relations and Economics, Jonathan is co-president of the SOAS Open Economics Forum.

Jonathan Arentoft at Festival of New Economic Thinking

Jonathan spoke about his experiences at the Festival:

What did you do at the Festival?

“We had a stall representing SOAS and we were able to talk to visitors about our UG and PG economics programmes, and also things like scholarships.”

Did you get a chance to hear any of the speakers?

“The main speaker was George Akerlof.  He is famous for his article “The Market for Lemons”, which investigated market collapse due to adverse selection.  He also explores behavioural economics and the way patterns of human economic activity are governed both by our rational self and by the ‘monkey on our shoulder’, which calls for an immediate satisfaction of wants.”

How did you get into economics yourself?

“I grew up in Brussels and went to an international school, and SOAS and the economics course seemed to offer a similarly diverse environment.

“I was very fortunate, too, that I had a great economics teacher who played an important role in my choice of studies.  He revealed the real-world relevance of the subject, because he managed to find a balance between the content required by the curriculum and things that were going on in the world outside the classroom.”

How has the Festival benefitted you?

“Edinburgh was a great place and it was a lot of fun to be part of the Festival and meet with students from a range of universities.”

“There were a lot of interesting initiatives like the Private Debt Project and the Young Scholars Initiative.  For me the YSI was particularly relevant.  There is still quite a hierarchy within academic research based on several elite journals, which can be hard to break into as a young scholar.  YSI works together to turn this hierarchy on its head and allow a new generation of thinkers to be heard.”

Want to learn more?

The Department of Economics at SOAS offer a pluralist and applied approach to the study of economics.  Students graduate with an excellent understanding of mainstream economic theory and are also introduced to alternative, heterodox approaches to economic analysis, which prepares them to be able to apply their knowledge to real world issues and real policy concerns.

Undergraduate programmes include BSc Economics; BSc Development Economics; and BA Economics and… (two subject degree).

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