As we prepare for our time together in Alexandria, ‘A Dialogue between Civilizations’ we must recognize that the civilizations of the world are entwined together in a global economic system which is incapable of functioning for the common good of humanity, other species, and this planet which is our home. Now is the time to begin a dialogue between civilizations on how to construct a new economic system and a new economics better designed to meet these ends.
The recent global financial crisis has led to questions about whether or not the kind of economics that is taught in universities was responsible both for the crisis itself, and for the widespread failure to predict the timing and magnitude of the events that unfolded in 2007-2008. There are many reasons for such failure. However, whatever the reasons might be, we strongly believe now is the time to begin a promising dialogue on this issue. It is time to discover what it is that we should be teaching our students, and how we might engage the wider community in addressing the economic and financial concerns of people from many different walks of life in many different cultures. We intend this dialogue to also include policymakers, who are, after all, responsible for the everyday operations of the economy.
It is clear that serious reflection is in order. To stand back and question what has happened and why would be to compound failure with failure: failure of vision and failure of responsibility. If nothing else, these current crises of finance, economics, social injustice and environmental devastation present us with a unique opportunity to address the shortcomings of the modern, value-free economics with total honesty and humility while returning the “dismal science” to its true position: a subject of beauty, wisdom and virtue.
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