HES 2010

One special thing that called my attention at the last HES in Syracuse was the impressive number of young scholars. As we know, the young scholars program, started in 2000 by Sandra Peart (Dean of the Jepson School at the University of Richmond), recently gained substantial financial support from Warren J. and Sylvia J. Samuels: as a result, the program is now dedicated to them as the Samuels Young Scholars Program. If the program had an average of 8 young scholars attending the HES meetings from 2000 to 2007, in 2009 (Denver) they were 14 and this year 16. Two characteristics of this group is worth mentioning: the majority is non-American, most of them doing Ph.D. in Europe. If this trend continues, it would be easier for the HES meetings to take place abroad (i.e., outside North-America)…

3 thoughts on “HES 2010

  1. Nice observation, indeed. But what is the second characteristic? Ok, let me speculate: I think that one other characteristic of these young scholars is that a lot of them work on the history of recent economics. I have skimmed through the session program, trying to locate their papers and it seems to me that many study postwar economic theory, with a focus on recent behavioral and experimental economics, neuroeconomics and so on. This is very promising as this points at some possible renewal in the discipline. Yet there are two drawbacks: first, we know who the young scholars are but we still ignore their work. They were praised during the conference banquet and their names were cited. This is fine, but the emphasis is always put on the individuals, not on the topics they study. It seems that the profession is more interested in the demographics, reassuring itself by distinguishing the youth more than by assessing the new work that is being done in the discipline. The other drawback, which is related to the first one, is that there were no specific young scholar sessions. I believe this was decided to warrant that there would be some meetings between the seniors and the juniors. Still, it did not foster the recognition of new young scholars by other (less) young scholars. Actually, with one or two exceptions, I talked to none. And as a result, we did not recruit anyone for the playground!

    1. Yan, thanks for pointing out the second characteristic that I simply failed to include in my post! And it is exactly the one you mentioned: the study of postwar economics (with a certain focus on “alternative” theories of human behavior, as compared to the neoclassical understanding).
      I agree with your two drawbacks. In my personal view, I think the best strategy was the one Mary Morgan chose when she organized the HES meeting in Toronto, 2004: there were young scholars parallel sessions at one given time slot, with no other “regular” session at the same time. This way, renowned scholars were chairs and discussants in these sessions, and all other participants would attend one of the young sessions. Moreover, one could understand more easily the research interests of the youngsters and how their work relate to the others.
      I guess one criticism to this strategy (and I vaguely remember one young scholar voicing this at that very HES meeting) is that in this way the work by a young scholar was not seeing as being in equal foot to the work of senior scholars. To put those works in the same level would call for mixing young and senior scholars in a regular session.
      Nonetheless, I still find the strategy used in the 2004 meeting better in terms of the two drawbacks you have mentioned.

  2. I agree that the best option for a Young Scholar Session is the Mary Morgan way. Because when a young scholar session competes with another one, on, say, Keynes or Hayek, only 3 or 4 people would attend it, young scholars included!
    That’s what happened to me at George Mason Univ in 2007. That was Ok because Steve Medema provided a very insightful discussion of my paper, but sometimes, young scholars are not that lucky.

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