CEMUS – The Global Economy

Hej, hej!

I am sorry for not posting anything on Wednesday, but I had a very busy week and you might still not be done reading my last entry since it became soooo long. Today I would like to tell you about one of the two courses I am currently taking.

With my first year during the master – as many study years before – being a little loady on math and statistics, I was looking for something different this semester. Even though most of the courses I did felt necessary, education in economics tends to be somewhat unilateral. With that in mind, I decided to try out a course offered by CEMUS, the Centre for Environment and Development Studies. CEMUS is a student-initiated, transdisciplinary center of Uppsala University and SLU.

The course I am taking is called The Global Economy (GEC) and it is split into three parts: (1) The birth of the global economy, (2) Understanding economies and (3) Possible (R)Evolution(s). The participants are Bachelor and Master students from various countries with different academic backgrounds and we have altering guest lecturers according to each week’s topics.

There are mainly three reasons why I am thrilled about this course. The first one is the style of teaching. While as a student of economics I am used to traditional chalk-talk teaching, GEC is much more interactive, by adding seminars, workshops and debates, film reviews and discussions to the regular lectures. Even though I appreciate most of the traditional lectures I have attended over the years, this is a very welcome variety for me. The second factor is the transdisciplinarity of the course: different backgrounds mean different opinions. I really, really appreciate the discussions that we have in class. Economics is omnipresent to all of us, whether we are aware of it or not, and if you ask one hundred people about a current economic issue (say the European financial crisis or the Brexit), you will get one hundred different answers. I think that it is very important for us economists to sometimes step out of our bubble of economic models and just try to see the world through someone else’s eyes (that last part holds not only for economists). In class my sentiments range from anger to curiosity, but there’s always something new to learn. The third reason why I enjoy this course so much are the topics we talk about. With some of them being more interesting than others – obviously – GEC covers many topics that I find are often neglected in the studies of economics (e.g. alternative economic theories or current issues touching upon economics).

The first module gave quite some insight to the past. We heard and talked a lot about the history of globalization, finance and economic theories. I actually used to have a class in economic history on the Bachelor level, but the topic changed every semester, so unfortunately I only learned about the era of the Great Depression. That was of course dramatic and important to be familiar with, but it also provided a rather restricted view on overall economic history, I must say.

However, even though I could increase my knowledge on economic history to a certain extent in the following years, there was still much to learn for me in the first module of the CEMUS course. Most appreciated is that I had the feeling to take a step back from detailed modelling and look at the whole picture again. I forgot how useful that can be every once and a while.

For everyone who is interested in sustainability or development issues, you should really pay a visit to the CEMUS site. I am also planning on posting about this course further and in more detail regarding the content soon!

I wish you a lovely week!

Franzi

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