Friday, September 10, 2010

Economics Students 2010

For the undergrads and masters students reading the blog it is worth sitting back for a second and thinking that, although job prospects seem terrible, we are living in historic times. Economics is a great discipline to study during major market crashes. Many of the Nobel winners of the late 20th century formed their ideas from basic human curiosity about the causes and effects of the Great Depression. So many aspects of daily life are salient reminders of market forces in operation and cues for change. You may or may not like him but people like Michael O'Leary sat doodling in the back of TCD Economics classes the last time this country was a hopeless case. Countless others saw how markets would change and what they would need to do to make an impact. Hopefully, a lot of big ideas are going to come from the group of students taking Economics classes here over the course of this recession. It is an open question as to whether the teaching of Economics itself may have contributed to the current mess. If so, then it is not the fault of the ideas themselves but rather how they have been filtered and applied. There is a fairly mad drinking party going on just outside my window here and I'm pretty sure it is not the wine reception from the Heidegger conference. It is tempting to hear the chants of "uggy oi..uggy oi.." and "ole ole ole" and assume that this crew simply wont have the interest or the application to create massive change and that we are in terminal decline. But it is worth listening closely to what the brighter and more motivated of the current group of students are thinking about how this economy should be organised. Taking students seriously to me means trying to intellectually engage with those of them with good ideas rather than just nodding sympathetically when they whinge about courseloads. College should be a practice swing at thinking big ideas, a chance to do them as a set of rehearsals before the real thing starts. My motivation going in front of undergrad classes this year will be to help to put some wind in the sails of bright and motivated people with good ideas.

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