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Leontief Prize

Program from GDAE Leontief Prize Event

March 27, 2000
Welcoming Remarks by Tufts President John DiBiaggio

It is an honor for me to be able to join with the Global Development And Environment Institute today to inaugurate the institute's "Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought" and to celebrate and recognize some remarkable achievements in the field of economics. Today we honor several people who remind us that economics the so-called "dismal science" can be a powerful tool in the hands of those committed to overcoming the persistent inequalities that plague our world.

Perhaps no figure in America more strongly evokes the commitment to economic equality than John Kenneth Galbraith, whose 1958 book The Affluent Society riveted the attention of the nation on the yawning gap between "private affluence" and "public squalor." Unfortunately, Professor Galbraith recently took a fall and is unable to be with us tonight. I am happy to report, however, that he is recovering nicely and his wife, Katherine, is here today to receive the Leontief Prize.

We are also honored to welcome back to Tufts Amartya Sen, who last graced our campus with his presence in 1997. Receiving prizes here may have become old hat for Prof. Sen. Today's Leontief Prize marks the third award Tufts has bestowed on him. More notable than these prizes, of course, was Amartya Sen's being awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his many contributions that, in the words of the Nobel Committee, "restored an ethical dimension to the discussion of economic problems." It is safe to say there is no greater contemporary figure when it comes to the economics of development and problem of inequality.

And I would be remiss if I did not also recognize the remarkable achievements of Tufts' own Global Development And Environment Institute. Seven short years ago, economist Neva Goodwin, Fletcher professor Bill Moomaw, and a few colleagues founded the Global Development And Environment Institute with the goal of promoting economic theories and policies that foster environmentally and socially sustainable societies. Since its founding as a joint venture between the Fletcher School and Tufts' Urban and Environmental Policy Program, GDAE has truly been "the little institute that could," quietly producing a dizzying array of books, papers, and educational materials. Today, we celebrate those accomplishments, specifically, the recent publication of The Political Economy of Inequality, the fifth in the institute's unprecedented six-volume series, The Frontier Issues in Economic Thought. I've known of the institute's wonderful work for years, but many haven't, and I think of this event in one sense as GDAE's coming-out party, an overdue public recognition of some remarkable contributors to the intellectual life of our university. In so doing, I would ask that the institute's staff and Faculty Advisory Board, drawn from eleven different academic departments, stand and be recognized.

We would like to begin our event today by introducing economist Neva Goodwin, co-director of the Global Development And Environment Institute. Dr. Goodwin will inaugurate the Leontief Prize, present the awards, and introduce our featured speaker.

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