Notes on HES roundtable “Teaching the Next Generation”

At the annual meeting of the History of Economics Society, Sunday 19 June 2016, Fuqua Rand Classroom, Harro Maas organized a roundtable to discuss the “Teaching the Next Generation.” The panelists were: Annie Cot (Université Paris 1), Pedro G. Duarte (University of São Paulo), Edward Nik-Khah (Roanoke College), Sandra Peart (University of Richmond), and Ivan Moscati (University of Insubria). Below are notes taken by Harro. We encourage anyone who attended the event to extend, correct or comment on these notes.

  • Annie gave an account of French teaching, a bit of its history and different ways of doing history. She told us also about job opportunities in France that range from high schools to university positions.

 

  • Pedro pictured the state of history of economics in Brazil as growing but fragile. He emphasized the importance of institutional backing. A very concrete example of such backing was ESHET’s sustained, also financial, support for history of economics in Latin America. Its funds were crucial in bringing together Latin American scholars (now resulting in a new Latin American society). Young scholars in Latin America are less associated with heterodox economics as the older generation. Challenges he saw were: Quantitative history; Blogs; Macro-economists willing to talk; New kinds of materials for doing history of economics that should be taken serious.

 

  • Eddy noted that the contemporary economics profession has given up on history; no Schumpeters, Blaugs or Heilbroners any more. What kind of people might be interested in history of econ, or even are so: STS, economic sociologists, or an unexpected office-mate as in Yann Giraud’s case. He saw it as the task (or part of the task) of historians of economics to give some context to what is currently going on; to contribute to the larger world of contemporary ideas, and economics is part of that. i.e. historians of economics should reach out to a more general public and to other communities. He (with Phil) have tried to do so with their history of information and market design that started as a course taught with INET (note again that funds help such projects).

 

  • Ivan told about the new PhD program (methods and models for economic decisions) at his university that includes the possibility of a thesis in history and methodology of economics. His colleagues are open to Ivan’s work but have no further interest in it.

 

  • Sandy: gives a twist to the question: not what to teach them, but what to do to make the next generation flourish; how to support their scholarship. Young scholar program was intended for that purpose. Instrumental in its establishment: Neil Niman (treasurer), John Davis, Dan Hammond and Mary Morgan. Free banquet tickets for the young scholars so that they don’t feel inhibited to participate and have the opportunity to mix with the older scholars.
    • Help young scholars to present their work (HM – HISRECO was and is important for that).
    • Help to professionalize them (HM – a session/workshop on how to submit to journals, how to present a paper, how to approach institutions/economists for interviews or otherwise)
    • Celebrate what young people are doing.

Summer institute served different function. People presenting there: first jobs, no institutional context, lonely existence, possibility to present unfinished work in friendly and supportive atmosphere. Wisdom transferred to someone who is only starting by speaking on the same level. Funding was never a problem so that young scholars could be paid, without strings attached. Editors invited; discussions about what it is like to write a book.

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2 thoughts on “Notes on HES roundtable “Teaching the Next Generation”

  1. Tiago: thanks for putting Harro’s notes here. The only thing that I remember and which is not featured here was Pedro’s insistance on the role of the History of Recent of Economics Conferences in promoting young scholars. The conferences are special, in Pedro’s opinion (and mine, too) in that, at least on the best years, are able to put newcomers and established researchers in a setting where the works by young scholars are both highly visible and treated without too much patronizing (it can always happen, of course, but it’s not encouraged by the setting) whereas in traditional conferences young scholars are either present in special session or they’re so disseminated that they become invisible (I think it’s what happened at HES). After years of fine tuning, I think that Pedro and I found the last equilibrium last year. Yes, the young scholars had a special treatment as they were selected through a call for paper but once they were there, there was no difference anymore with the other participants. Pedro wished to point this out, as Hisreco is still a very fragile endeavor. I think we will eventually be able to fund the next one but we still walk a fine line. I may write a longer post on this topic later.

  2. Tiago, thanks for sharing Harro’s notes. The session was indeed very interesting and in my view this is the kind of discussion that should be more institutionalized: history of economics societies, in their meetings, could have such roundtables to cover some topics (in our session, several important topics appeared, without a chance of fully developing all of them), always avoiding patronizing colleagues in the field.
    Yann, in his comment here, brought one additional thing that was part of my talk: HISRECO offers young scholars working on postwar economics a very interesting and rich experience. And it is another fragile initiative.
    I want also to add to Harro’s notes that the History of Economics Society (HES) has also contributed to important initiatives, together with ESHET. HES funded a Summer School that took place in Colombia in 2014 that also contributed to the creation of the Latin America Association that I mentioned. HES also funded HISRECO in São Paulo this year, which brought to Latin America the good things that HISRECO has to offer.
    Finally, I want to stress that fragility is a reality (not only in Latin America, which was the focus of my short talk), and the real question is how much initiatives can be institutionalized, and what our societies could actively do to help with some of this.

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