UCLouvain / Economics
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Universities have a major societal responsibility in the necessary transition of our societies towards a sustainable way of life. Universities must have a leading role in the transition, on the one hand, by acting as socially responsible institutions and, on the other, by building and disseminating the necessary knowledge required for the development of sustainable societies.
I‘m a professor in Economics. The fact that our resources are limited and that infinite growth on a finite planet is just unsustainable are not yet fully acknowledged. In my school of Economics, these topics are barely not addressed by teaching and research. We need to develop research in Economics as well as multidisciplinary research that crosses the boundaries between social sciences and “hard” sciences. We even need to develop innovative transdisciplinary approaches that combine different scientific disciplines with the expertise of the social actors. However, this type of research is often difficult to be funded as the evaluation criteria of conventional research funding are based primarily on disciplinary approaches.
I implemented with some colleagues a “minor” in our BA programs. This program offers a first approach to sustainable development. It is based on courses in economics (environmental economics, ecological economics, social economy and transition) and on teaching in other disciplines in hard and social sciences. It is open to all students enrolled in a bachelor’s degree. It has been a struggle to convince colleagues and authorities of the relevancy of such a program.
From a personal point of view to reduce my footprint, I try to change some of my own choices (type of food, transport …) but I ‘m convinced that we need to have much more strong political decisions. In particular, prices must reflect the real cost of goods and services internalizing the environmental externalities. Negatives and positives externalities must be internalized into prices (trough taxation and subsidies). It is no sense to have such cheap flights and expensive international trains, to foster company cars through very favorable taxation system, to have access to so cheap meat which is produced through disastrous ecological conditions and that local and ecological producers have to struggle to survive. Our politicians must have the courage to take these decisions against the big industrial lobbies but for the sake of the future generations. It is crucial for the future of our “common house”, our planet. It is their duties.
Originally posted 2018-06-09 16:17:24.