Tuesday, February 20, 2018 | ePaper

Rethink approach to economics

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G. John Cole :
It's been an unprecedented decade for global economics.
While many of the headlines have fixated upon the big players and the larger aggregate economy, ordinary people have become more fascinated than ever in the role economics plays in our everyday life, from the ebb and flow of the property market to the macroeconomics of managing the household budget.
It's a fascinating field of study, since everything is connected in ways that are widely open to interpretation by different schools of thought.
It follows naturally that the pluralist approach to economics has gained a lot of traction in recent years. The philosophy of pluralism in economics recognizes the value of multiple traditions of thought in contemporary scholarship - including Austrian, feminist, institutionalist, Marxian, and Post Keynesian - and seeks to connect and balance disparate cultures and systems for the common good. The idea's key sentiments can actually be traced back over centuries and even millennia, to the idealism and religious pluralism of Warring States-period China.
If the idea of studying economics from a pluralist point of view already seems intriguing, there are additional benefits to consider. Whether you want to work in banking, in government, in an NGO, or in business, gaining a broad understanding of the different ways that people analyze economic phenomena allows for a more complex, adaptable, and creative practice - which improves employability.
This knowledge and skill base also puts the postgraduate student in a stronger position should they wish to specialize in a particular economic tradition at a later date.
Secondly, the pluralist approach to economics is part of a very contemporary turn towards personal and institutional responsibility within the sectors most closely associated with the subject. There is a whole movement that wants to rethink the academic discipline of economics and situate it within real-world contexts, answering to a diverse culture of needs and demands. Simply put, pluralist economics resonates with the progressive ethics of our time.
Focusing these tools towards the area of development economics can reveal exciting new ideas and solutions regarding the big issues of the 21st century, such as poverty, inequality, and globalization. One university has mastered and is continuing to develop this combinatory approach: SOAS University of London.
With over 5,000 students from 133 countries on campus, it's a dynamic and truly international place to make connections and reflect on global economic tendencies, with a particular emphasis on development economics. Over half of the students are from outside of the UK, attracted to SOAS by the world-class faculty of renowned academics, thinkers, and professionals.
Students will find that a program such as the MSc Economics are encouraged to develop a deep understanding of particular countries and issues, based on a concrete analysis of history, institutions, and political economy. It's an opportunity that will certainly inspire postgraduate economics students to rethink their approach to economics.
(John is a digital nomad and freelance writer for higher education and marketing publications. A native Englishman, he is always on the move but can most commonly be spotted in Norway, the UK and the Balkans).

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