Welcome to AEMS 2017!

Jul 31, 2017 by

Introduction

by Florian Carl, Solène Dengler and Julia Talk

On Wednesday the 26th of July, we kicked-off the fourth installment of this years 13 days Alternative Economic and Monetary Systems (AEMS) summer school. We have an exciting programme ahead which we would love to share with you. Starting with this blogpost, you will have the occasion to follow the discussions, debates and experiences in daily updates from the students. We hope this will raise your interest for the topics and maybe even motivate you to apply for next year’s AEMS summer school or to join one of the free public events (see schedule below).

Wednesday, August 2nd 2017. 7 p.m.  Panel discussion: the political and economic situation in Greece and Iceland with Helene Schuberth, Eva H. Önnudóttir & Spyridoula Nezi in Palais Harrach, Freyung 3, 1010 Vienna

Thursday, August 3rd 2017. 7 p.m.  Panel discussion: the financial system of the future with Bart Jan Krouwel, Christian Felber & Bernard Lietaer in Palais Harrach, Freyung 3, 1010 Vienna

Tuesday, August 8th 2017. 8:15 p.m. Movie “Tomorrow” directed by Cyril Dion and Mélanie Laurent at Votivkino, Währinger Straße 12, 1090 Vienna.

Please register via email: aems@oead.at

In its fourth year, AEMS has now gathered almost two hundred students spreading knowledge of and enhancing the public debate on alternative economic and financial models that address the ecological and societal challenges of the 21st century. With 51 students from more than 30 countries, this year’s group is comprised of individuals who not only represent great cultural diversity, but also disciplinary and professional diversity (economics, physics, history, political sciences, geography, engineering, philosophy, pedagogics…). This promises rich discussions with a multidisciplinary integration of approaches. Next to critical discussions about frameworks, theories and approaches, the summer school puts strong emphasis on the exploration of constructive solutions that can be applied to variable contexts of socio-ecological organisation, from the local to the global level.

Across the globe academics, activists and increasingly also politicians are ringing the alarm clock on issues like climate change and social inequality, to name but a few. In face of this, rhetorics like “keep calm and carry on” seem oddly misplaced. Tirelessly we are being reassured to believe in the almighty economy and its theoretical backbone of mainstream economic theory. Signs of this theoretical lock-in and the inability to adequately respond to issues such as climate change and social inequality, but also continuous negative central bank interest rates or sky high global debt (total global debt as share of GDP was 286% as of the 2nd quarter 2014*), can be found across the world. This is why it is ever more important that we need to acknowledge the systemic dimension of these problems and realise the benefits of rethinking economics by utilising plurality of perspectives. Only then will we be able to reclaim our economy to serve the planet and the people, rather than perpetuating an outdated unsustainable agenda. In that sense, the summer school for Alternative Economics and Monetary System in Vienna is at the forefront of theory and practice, showing that viable alternatives perspectives and solutions do not only already exist but that they are already successfully being implemented as we speak. The long held separation of society and nature, which once seemed so evident, turned out much more precarious than we imagined. There is almost nothing on earth today, which is unaffected by the workings of modern civilisation. If for anything we share our air, and generously also our greenhouse gas emissions. But this development and insight about our commons, can become an opportunity rather than a downfall.  Alternatives movements and groups across the world such as for example Transition-Towns, the Economy for the Common Good or complementary currencies show that the debate has long shifted beyond conventional divides of left and right politics. This is the world we are living in today, it is our little planetary household to take care of, and economics is, and can be, the tool to do just that.

The programme of this years AEMS is structured along the following 4 modules.

(for the full programme see link: http://summer-university.net/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/AEMS-Programm-2017.pdf )

Introduction & Module I: The multiple crises and the need for alternative approaches

Here you will be able to learn more about the circumstances of our world and why mainstream economics is still failing to adequately deal with the challenges of the 21st century. Understanding the core of both mainstream and heterodox economic theories, will not only help to advance the knowledge of categorising economic debates, but also further political decisions and policies which are guided by them.

Module II & III: Democratizing the economic, financial and monetary system

The strong relevance of democratic political systems and decision making processes is a pillar of society which is held dear by many people. Nevertheless, the rise of nationalism and populist politics puts a strong test to these democratic principles. Finding new ways of understanding, advancing and implementing democracy, you will be able to read about practical examples such as alternative banking, the recent history of Greece and Iceland as well as local currencies.

Module IV: Towards socio-ecological transformation: Ecological economics, degrowth, well-being

In this module, we will go more into depth with some of the most prominent heterodox economic theories. This will be informed by a visit to the “International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis” as well as introductions to practical alternatives of organising society with focus on food security.

*SOURCE: Haver Analytics; national sources; World economic outlook, IMF; BIS; McKinsey Global Institute analysis