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Published March 08, 2005 in The Tufts Daily

University to honor economists
by Alex Duncan
Contributing Writer

The Global Development and Environment Institute (GDAE) at Tufts will be awarding the Leontief Prize to noted developmental economists Dr. Ha-Joon Chang of Cambridge University and Dr. Richard R. Nelson of Columbia University.

The Leontief Prize is awarded by the GDAE to two recipients approximately every 18 months in honor of 1973 Nobel Prize-winning economist and former member of GDAE's external advisory board Wasilly Leontief, who passed away in 1999. The GDAE is jointly affiliated with Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

The prize was first awarded in 2000 to developmental economists Amartya Sen and John Kenneth Galbraith.

According to the Co-Director of the GDAE, Dr. Neva Goodwin, the Leontief Prize embodies the institute's guiding principles.

"The Prize recognizes economists that take a clear and practical look at the real world," Goodwin said. "Wasilly Leontief felt that economics had become too abstract with too many theories on top of theories. He cared deeply that facts and real world circumstances be taken into account in economics."

Goodwin said that the 2004 recipients exemplify these same values Leontief sought to advance

"Dr. Chang shows the way economics should be going," Goodwin said. "He is really interested in well-being rather than wealth, which is the basis of traditional economics."

Chang said he was honored to receive the award and is encouraged to work even harder to make a difference in a rapidly globalizing economy.

"What I have tried in the last dozen or so years of my research career is to build a new kind of economics that fully incorporates history, politics, and institutions into its analytical framework," he said. "This kind of approach is not very popular among the orthodox economists, and therefore I am extremely pleased that the value of my effort has been recognized by [GDAE]."

Nelson was also very appreciative.

"I'm just delighted and flattered," he said. "Throughout my career, I have tried to develop a view of economics that conveys the importance of institutions, innovation, and disequilibrium, and it's nice to know that people [have] taken a strong interest in [my] lifetime of work."

Goodwin praised Nelson as an exceptional systemic thinker and for his highly respected work regarding technological innovation.

Nelson and Chang have not worked together but share much respect for one another.

"We see eye to eye on many topics, so it's a privilege to share this honor with him," Nelson said of Chang.

Chang also praised Nelson.

"He has been one of my intellectual heroes. His path-breaking work on evolutionary economics and his brilliant work, both theoretical and empirical, work on innovation and technological changes, have influenced me deeply," Chang said.

Chang is the author of the book "Kicking Away the Ladder - Development Strategy in Historical Perspective," published in 2002.

Nelson's well-known works include "An Evolutionary Theory of Economic Change," (co-authored with Sydney Winter), "National Systems of Innovation: A Comparative Study," and "Sources of Economic Growth."

Both recipients have been published in multiple languages across the world.

GDAE will hold the award ceremony on campus in October. More specifics will be announced closer to the event, including location and speakers.

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