Panel Discussion – Helga Kromp-Kolb, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker & Christian Kreiss

Jul 31, 2018 by

The afternoon panel discussion from the opening day of the AEMS Summer School was moderated by Der Standard Journalist, Eric Frey, and consisted of the three speakers from the earlier sessions: Professor Helga Kromp-Kolb (Academic Head of AEMS and Initiator of the Center for Global Change and Sustainability at BOKU Vienna), Professor Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker (Co-president of the Club of Rome), and Professor Christian Kreiss (Professor of Finance at Aalen University).

All three professors have different backgrounds and specialties, and therefore brought a unique perspective to the lively discussion about the current ecological, economic, and societal problems we face today. As many of the alternative ideas and possible solutions presented can be interpreted in multiple ways, two AEMS students have provided their thoughts and takeaways below.


Kayla Baczewski

What I found most interesting about the panel discussion was that, although each panelist held different opinions on multiple topics, they all seemed to stress the importance of balance. Much of the discussion surrounded the balance of cooperation and competition and how each can be a mechanism for generating value. Additionally, the balance between public (state) and private (markets), long-term and short-term goals, as well as, innovation and reliability were present throughout the discussion. I also found it interesting that it was very easy for each panelist to weave different parts of society into the discussion. For example, there was a very interesting and heated debate on whether public schools are too materialistic and competition driven. That same debate then morphed into a discussion on the most appropriate way to teach young students economics. Although I thoroughly enjoyed hearing the thoughts and opinions of these experts, I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that not many tangible solutions were presented. Although the idea of world permits for carbon emissions and education voucher systems were presented as solutions, much of the discussion focused mainly on theory, high-level institutional changes, and even the need for individual mindset changes, but not the implementation steps. As I continue to learn more during the AEMS Summer School, I hope to gain a clearer picture on how we can initiate change towards alternative systems, and not just why current economics might be failing us.


Gray Farris

The panel discussion highlighted some of the agreement and discourse that is related to how people, society, institutions, markets, business, and governments move forward. This movement forward can take on many forms and fashions all in the pursuit of a change of the status quo. What was demonstrated across the board, across all contributors, is that there are no solid solutions; if there were AEMS would not exist as a proactive summer school but instead as a passive one. Even these experienced scholars provided insights that can be considered opaque or abstract, creating an atmosphere of academic thought towards each topic. Each in their own field of investment banking, politics, and natural sciences created a dialogue as diverse as the summer school itself. Between the insights, information, and provocations of thought, one could taste the insatiable appetite of more conversation from the audience in the room. Dullness was not a topic of discussion as the moderator guided the panel through issues ranging from education in society to monetary reform, each step along the way weaving a narrative that was easily digestible. This panel discussion highlights what is to come as the conversation develops throughout the Alternative Economic and Monetary Systems Summer School.


Written by: Kayla Baczewski and Gray Farris

Based on the panel discussion by: Helga Kromp-Kolb, Ernst Ulrich von Weizsäcker and Christian Kreiss