Alternative Economies: Ecology and Economics
275 Madison Avenue, Suite 2114
New York, NY 10016
Students of economics are often puzzled to learn that markets are normally treated as self-standing, self-contained systems. But as people experience the increasing effects of global climate change, this form of thinking moves from dubious to deadly. All those unaccounted “inputs” and “externalities” turn out to have a frighteningly high cost. This is a challenge not only for common mainstream economic analyses, but also for many alternative or radical approaches as well. How can we put the economy back within its ecological context? What kinds of economies are imaginable that are compatible with ecological sustainability?
In this course, we will explore these questions by reviewing a variety of perspectives on the intersection of ecology and economy. What would accounting for the “full cost” of production do to our existing understandings of markets? Do alternatives—socialism, even communism—solve ecological questions on their own? Why do we frame our economic conversations around abstract values like “growth” and “GDP” when our concerns are often around human development and quality of life? How do policy ideas like a “Green New Deal” or analytic concepts like a “just transition” or “degrowth” actually work? We’ll explore these questions drawing from a rich array of perspectives – mainstream thinkers, ecological and other heterodox economists, Green Marxists, social thinkers, and even business specialists. We’ll look at contemporary economic history to try and place these conversations within the related context of the development of a system of global, corporate monopolies, finance and governance. Finally, we’ll ask how the economy is fundamentally embedded in social, political, and, above all, ecological systems.
Course ScheduleMonday, 6:30-9:30pm
March 04 — March 25, 2019