Funny that climate change is included as one of the two problems:
Economics students from 19 countries have joined forces to call for an overhaul of the way their subject is taught, saying the dominance of narrow free-market theories at top universities harms the world's ability to confront challenges such as financial stability and climate change.
In the first global protest against mainstream economic teaching, the International Student Initiative for Pluralist Economics (ISIPE) argues in a letter to the Guardian that economics courses are failing wider society when they ignore evidence from other disciplines.
The students, who have formed 41 protest groups in universities from Britain and the US to Brazil and Russia, say research and teaching in economics departments is too narrowly focused and more effort should be made to broaden the curriculum. They want courses to include analysis of the financial crash that so many economists failed to see coming, and say the discipline has become divorced from the real world.
"The lack of intellectual diversity does not only restrain education and research. It limits our ability to contend with the multidimensional challenges of the 21st century – from financial stability to food security and climate change," they say in their manifesto. ...
The student manifesto calls on university economics departments to hire lecturers with a broader outlook and introduce a wider selection of texts. It also asks that lecturers endorse collaborations between social sciences and humanities departments or "establish special departments that could oversee interdisciplinary programmes blending economics and other fields".
The limitations of economics in predicting financial crises and understanding climate change policy shouldn't be put in the same pot. The field of economics did a horrible job with predicting the financial crisis but, I think, are doing fairly well with climate change.
The major problem that I see with climate change economics, at least in the sense that this part of economics might get in the way of pursuing climate policy, is discounting. With a zero discount rate the benefits of climate change policy might easily swamp the costs. However, discounting is what people do; it is not an unrealistic artifact of narrow free-market theory. Economists aren't being economists if they ignore what people do when doing benefit cost analysis (ahem, The Stern Review) and designing policy.
The first part of the last paragraph fo the excerpt is a bit of a head scratcher. I'm ignorant to how the humanities could have helped us predict the financial crisis. Unless it is the case that there tend to be more Marxists in the humanities and Marxists might always be predicting crises.
The second part of the last paragraph is a head scratcher too. The only reason that climate change is an issue confronted by economists is that we don't "ignore evidence from other disciplines." And establishing interdisciplinary departments is not the job of economists at universities. We might try to do it if we had that sort of power but we don't.
Finally, Dave McEvoy and I participated (as guest lecturers) in an interdisciplinary course on climate change this semester. Dave talked about the economics of climate change agreements and I did the social cost of carbon (my kids were in attendance and they just loved it!). There could have been more effort on our parts to integrate, but hey, it's a start.
Note: The Guardian didn't have a link, that I could find quickly, to the "Manifesto."
Hat tip: The Ticker