SOAS University of London

Report On: The Sixth Annual Conference of the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE)

9 September 2015
SOAS economists comment on United Nations Conference

The Sixth Annual Conference of the International Initiative for Promoting Political Economy (IIPPE) took place between the 9th and 11th of September, 2015, at the Leeds University Business School (LUBS). IIPPE was set up to promote political economy through critical and constructive engagement with mainstream economics, heterodox alternatives, interdisciplinarity and activism, with Marxist political economy having a strong presence within the Initiative. This year’s Conference theme was “Rethinking Economics: Pluralism, Interdisciplinarity and Activism”, which had the aim of fostering reflection on constructive alternatives to mainstream economics. Three hundred delegates from across the social sciences, and from around the world including well-represented sister organisations, participated in the Conference. There were four exciting plenaries and nine concurrent parallel sessions of eight panels ran throughout the conference.

There are strong and continuing links between IIPPE and the Economics Department at SOAS with many of the organisation’s founding members also members of the Department or its former graduates. Three of the elected Executive Officers of IIPPE, including the Chair, derive from SOAS as do seven of its thirteen Council Members. Further, former graduates of the Department participating in the Conference have often moved on to take jobs at other emerging heterodox economics departments across the country, including LUBS itself, Kingston University, Greenwich University and the University of the West of England. This strengthens heterodoxy within our discipline, and it is testimony to the strength of the heterodox tradition at SOAS to see so many of its former graduates taking on this leading role across the country. At one of the plenaries, Professor Gary Dimsky of LUBS paid explicit tribute, in his own words, to the role of the SOAS Economics Department in serving as the principal source of the “streams” of heterodoxy now emerging.

Our current Head of Department, Deborah Johnston, together with other current and former Departmental members, brought together work on rethinking the relationship between agriculture, nutrition and industry in Africa to the Conference. The Department’s Research Cluster on the International Financial Institutions convened a panel questioning the renewed promotion of Public Private Partnerships across the developing world. And various sessions at the Conference presented research that has been undertaken through the large European funded research project, entitled Financialisation, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development, a multidisciplinary project investigating how finance can better serve economic, social and environmental needs, in which Departmental members play a leading role alongside a large number of other, mainly European institutions. FESSUD was itself initiated at and through an earlier IIPPE Conference in Ankara.

In addition, a roundtable discussion of Reteaching Economics, again primarily led by the Department’s former graduates, explored challenges facing early career lecturers in economics who seek to promote heterodoxy. Finally, the Foundation for Progressive Studies (FEPS), a European think tank playing an important role in informing debates within and across various national social democratic organisations, convened a stream through which FEPS-funded research on Finance and Inequality was presented. This was instigated by two former graduates from the SOAS Economics Department who have successively served as Senior Economist at the Foundation.

SOAS Professor elected as Syriza MP in Greek elections

Costas Lapavitsas
, Professor in Economics at SOAS, University of London has been elected as a new MP for left-wing party Syriza in Greece. Syriza secured 149 seats in the recent election and has formed a coalition with the right-wing Independent Greeks party. Professor Lapavitsas, the elected MP for Imathia - a region in the north of Greece - will be working on the economic plan.

Professor Paul Webley said: “I would like to congratulate Professor Lapavitsas on winning his parliamentary seat for Syriza. SOAS staff and students will be inspired and delighted by Professor Lapavitsas’ future in politics and we wish him the best of luck in this role.”

2013 - 14 Department Prize Winners

Postgraduate Department awards

The postgraduate department award winners for outstanding exam and dissertation performance in 2013/14 are:

Sarah Karlsoon - Msc Development Economics
Hope Martin - Msc Development Economics
Graduate Diploma awards

The graduate diploma department award winners for outstanding exam and course work performance in 2013/14 are:

Sarah-Anne Bedford
Moshe Kinshuck
2013-14 Quotes from Visiting Examiners for MSc Economics Programmes

“The strength of this programme is that it offers diverse perspectives about development, economic growth, and money management.”

“This programme is excellent.  It provides an extremely good training in development economics which allows students to grapple with important issues in the theory and practice of the subject and, importantly, covers both mainstream and critical pathways in the discipline.  This succeeds on its own terms, but I would also like to highlight its broader significance.  Programmes such as this are becoming increasingly rare in modern British academic economics.  The continuation and success of this programme is important far beyond the confines of SOAS.”

“This is an excellent programme that provides students with perspectives on a range of issues in Economics and Development, which are unavailable at other higher education institutions with which I am familiar.”

“The range of theory on which the courses draw is wide, and there are many innovative aspects of the programme, including the course on the institutional aspects of economic development; this MSc programme is unusual and nationally important.”

“The area-based courses are unusual and valuable in encouraging application of economic analysis in depth to the particularities of economic development in different regions.”