Heterodox Economics Newsletter

Issue 263 May 11, 2020 web pdf Heterodox Economics Directory

Economic processes are often coined by the occurrence of unforeseen events: foreign countries may arbitrarily erect trade barriers, politicians can always introduce novel regulations, financial markets repeatedly break down and technological innovations can make stuff obsolete tomorrow, that yesterday was still conceived as an everlasting necessity. The occurrence of such unforeseen events in turn forces us to adapt spontaneously to new environments and such adaptions typically require making use of trial-and-error processes based on educated guesses about what can and can not work in such a novel context. This necessity to explore new ways and strategies for getting things done may have a lasting imprint on socio-economic processes even long after an immediate crisis or unforeseen event has passed. In such cases the adaptions made during a specific period manage to substantially affect dominant routines, which eventually leads to real change as "change is always in the last resort a change in habits of thought".

Currently, I can observe a series of such adaptions at my own institution, the University of Duisburg-Essen: a lot of admin stuff that was formerly strictly tied to printed forms, can now be done virtually, online-teaching has seen a rapid expansion going along with a rise on online teaching capabilities on the side of instructors and research workshops & conferences are forced to try new formats. While not all of these 'forced' innovations work equally well, I sincerely hope that the current health crisis as well as the associated policies & adaptions will indeed lead to a more permanent "change in the habits of thought" in a diverse set of areas - including, but surely not restricted to, the inner workings of universities and other academic institutions ;-)

All the best,
Jakob

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