What better way to end the Principles of Macro course, than attending an economics conference about the future of the world economy, that brings together economists, business people, NGO activists and government officials?
Students chose the sessions they attended based on personal interest, from AI, blockchain or biotechnologies, to creativity, extreme poverty or leadership for tomorrow. They could then see how economic theory is used in the real world to understand mutations and their diverse impacts. The digital revolution was a central theme this year and students could relate it to their study of how an increase in productivity supports economic growth. But many speakers, including Edouard Philippe, the French prime minister, or Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, also pointed out the risks for low and mid-level job and the related rise in inequalities that needs to be addressed. Another focus was that of the threat to multilateralism and the movement towards greater protectionism, a perfect introduction to the course on International Economics and Trade.
The conference also got students thinking about their education and career choices to prepare for a world that is changing faster and faster and in which disruptions have become the norm. Education in digital technologies is essential, but the humanities and 4Cs (communication, cooperation, creativity and critical thinking skills) are just as important as they are skills that robots cannot take over and ensure the flexibility needed to adapt throughout one's life.
The Rencontres Economiques d’Aix is a great conference to take your students to. It is thought for a public that is educated, but non-specialist. There are over 230 speakers, from across the world and all different sectors (although women are still very much underrepresented) and covers the hot topics of the future. Moreover, the whole conference is free and open to the public.