A free in-depth course in economics for the uninitiated

Aims to bridge gap between classroom learning and global financial issues
Last Updated 25 December 2015, 18:26 IST

Having chosen careers far from academics, most people’s familiarity with economics as a subject ends in high school. Often, even those who have chosen the subject for higher studies are not well aware of the ground reality.

Bridging the gap between classroom learning and burning issues across the globe, Srinivas Raghavendra, Lecturer Above the Bar at the National University of Ireland, Galway, (visiting lecturer at the Indian Institute of Science here), has started a 12-day course in economics for candidates from different walks of life.

What’s more, the course, ‘Modern Finance and Macroeconomics’, is being conducted free of charge and funded by the International Centre for Theoretical Sciences, Bengaluru. The first edition of the course started on December 22 and will be conducted till January 2, 2016.

Giving a broader picture of the course’s (planned to be annual) relevance, Raghavendra explained: “After the 2008 crash, the economy is still lingering in crisis. Systemic instability is built into the growth of a rapidly developing nation. We wanted to tell that story to students.”

One focus area of the course work is the analysis of the crash and using that as the flagging point, it also looks into how to rework the macroeconomics. Students have the right to know the different intellectual traditions in economics, Raghavendra added.

Most economists were inclined to focus on technical fixes in case of an economic crisis, as technical training was hard-wired in them, said Gary Dymski, Professor, University of Leeds, the UK, emphasising the need for economists to explore different approaches. “We need people thinking in a holistic way. We need those who are not isolated from social and macroeconomic issues.”

What to expect?

As many as 125 students from across India have been selected for the course after careful scrutiny. Among them are biologists, physicists and lecturers. The criteria were a basic orientation to the subject and reference letters. Those skilled in mathematics were preferred. The curriculum covers a wide range of topics, including macroeconomics theory, risk, uncertainty and pricing, financial crashes and macroeconomic recession.

One of the participants, Vishaka Datta, who is a research scholar at the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS), put it thus: “For me, the course has not been about teaching economics. It phrases bigger problems in economics. I had acquainted myself with economics through online courses. However, it’s great to meet the economists in person.”

Datta graduated in statistics from IIT Kharagpur. He is currently pursuing PhD in Biological Studies at the NCBS. His research topic deals with application of physics and statistics to biological systems. 

(Published 25 December 2015, 18:26 IST)

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