Last Friday night,students, professors and a distinguished line up of speakers gathered at my alma matter, Trinity College, Dublin for the annual Trinity Economic Forum.
The premise of the forum is that it takes students away from their books and allows them to think about and discuss economics in the context of what is happening in the world today.
The students that would attend are most likely interested in how the world works and could very likely go into policy or industry themselves, making a very real impact on society,so I thought it was an important event for Horyou to be at, to see the concerns and values of the next generation.
The agenda was “Taking Economics Forward.” Ireland has recovered from its economic collapse and is now on course to be the fastest growing economy in Europe.
However, the last few years have taught us that in an increasingly globalized and connected world, what happens ten thousand miles away can impact at home, so I found the line up to definitely be more internationally focused than other years.
The night began with Economist and former WEF Young Global Leader David Mc Williams addressing the audience on what economics really means. He alluded to his own time studying at Trinity and the fact that students are still reading from the text books that he did in the 1980’s. He expressed concern that the curriculum hasn’t changed as the world has changed and that models, albeit important frameworks, don’t capture the realities and disparities of economies today.
He ended with a plea for the economists of tomorrow to use the theory they are learning and contextualize it. Learn to think for themselves, look around and most importantly, use their voice to contribute to the study and understanding of economics in a way that makes a positive impact on society.
Next on the agenda was an engaging panel discussion on China. As the second largest economy in the world and a place in which many of us rely on to both produce and consume, what happens in China reverberates across the world.
As it is going through a period of transition, changing from investment led to consumption led economy, a lot of people and especially the markets are unsure about the future of China as a world superpower. Linda Yueh, University of Oxford fellow and BBC correspondent said that “this stumbling is unsurprising, it is taking a fifth of the world’s population and making them prosperous.”
Thinking about it in simple terms, if China’s manufacturing sector can stabilize, it can provide jobs for its population and produce goods for the west. If the earnings of its enormous population are good enough, there will be a demand for products and services from the west. The outcome of this East – West supply and demand axis is crucial to understanding the importance of China in the world economy.
The evening ended with panels on Britain and the EU, the migration crisis and what this means for the social stability of Europe, and where Ireland lies in respect to all of this.
The quality of the subjects, contributions and speakers would deserve attention beyond the actual on site attendance on a Friday evening. It would indeed be of relevance that college students everywhere and beyond the sacrosanct textbooks discuss and exchange opinions on world events that will very definitely impact all of our lives.
Horyou is built on the principles of communication for social good, which is why forums such as the Trinity Economic Forum are a good opportunity to share ideas and opinions, challenge the status quo and exercise democracy and, most importantly, progress as a society.