Against the Neoliberal Consensus in Economics Schools

The International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics (ISIPE), a network against the neoliberal consesus in economics schools, held its first General Assembly from 18 to 21 September in Tübingen.

The participation of the Portuguese collective “Economia Sem Muros” (Collective Economy Without Walls) was supported by transform! europe.
About 60 people of different organizations from around 25 countries partcipated in the conference – mostly Europeans, but also people from South and North America, Australia and Israel. With us was also Steve Keen, the post-Keynesian economist, who held a presentation.
This was the first oppourtunity to introduce ourselves and our groups, to present our collective and the transform! network and its activities.
Firstly, we focused on what we wanted ISIPE to be and its organization. Questions regarding how decisions would be taken, criteria to accept funds, and the relation between the International network and the local groups were discussed. We decided that ISIPE should be an international network of societies with political intervention for the pluralization of the Economics teaching with a soft structure based on project-oriented working groups.
The network will have a yearly general assembly to evaluate the previous year work, analyse the situation of the movement, share experiences of activism and plan the next year’s intervention. 
Then, we brainstormed and discussed specific projects and the working groups we would need.
We decided upon the creation of the following groups:
A research and curriculum group, on which our collective will be working. This group is responsible for performing a coordinated survey on the general state of economics teaching. This research consists on studying the curricula of each bachelor’s degree available in each country where we have member groups, and produce data regarding the distribution of ECT’s per field of study. Such data would sustain our denunciations of lack of pluralism, and expose the disproportionate importance of quantitative methods and neoclassical economics on the degrees, and the almost inexistency of courses on history of economics thought, economic history, anthropological economics, epistemology. This group is also responsible for coming up with a broad set of possible alternative curricula, broad enough so that it can be adapted to the reality of each country. These alternative curricula will materialize our proposals beyond the strong but vague flag of plurality.
An Action group, responsible for creating a document aggregating best practices on how to lobby, for organizing the next general assembly, and preparing likewise an international initiative, scheduled for 5 May, coordinated among groups, with debates and exposures of the results of the Survey.
A database group, responsible for setting a platform of resources, with general guides, with tips to starting groups, and archive all the initiatives held by the local groups.
We also decided upon the creation of an internal communication group, responsible for the settlement of online tools to guarantee the communication among the network, and an external communication, responsible for managing the website and ISIPE’s image.
To sum up, in this first general assembly the network worked on the creation of objective conditions to change the consensus in economics schools, establishing a strategy in three vectors. First, to reinforce our claims of lack of pluralism with critical scientific analysis, clear data on the curricula important to enlarge our influence among students and to empower the network and the struggle with an empirical study with an easy media impact. Then, to have an international pluralism day with coordinated actions around the world to expose our findings and our struggle, and to work on proposals of alternative curricula so that we become an important voice in the debate around future revisions of the curricula.
Fighting neoliberal consensus in the schools of economics is fighting an important base of reproduction of neoliberal ideas. It fosters the students’ critical thinking and disputes the academia. Changing the economics teaching can effectively dispute the common sense and have a wide impact in the political framework.
In Tübingen there was a group of students from different countries motivated to strengthen this struggle. It is important that politicized left groups such as those that take part in the transform! network, take part in such networks and their political definition, working with these groups to build a broad alliance against neoliberalism, austerity, inequalities and the dominance of capital.

Link: The International Student Initiative for Pluralism in Economics (ISIPE)