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Climate Change: Theory and Education

 

GDAE’s Theory and Education Program is developing a number of publications and initiatives related to climate change.  We are exploring the implications for economic theory and policy of the massive economic restructuring that will be necessary to respond to climate change, and also of the ways in which economies will need to adapt to impacts that cannot or will not be avoided.  Our work takes the form of books, articles, discussion papers, conference presentations, and educational texts and modules.  Researchers in the Theory and Education Program are available for speaking engagements on issues related to climate change.

Conference

Books

Teaching Materials

Working Papers and Articles

Course Offerings

Researchers


Conference

In November, 2006, GDAE sponsored a conference, Growth vs. Sustainability? Economic Responses to Ecological Challenges, which brought together scientists, economists and civil society activists from the global South and North for a discussion of alternatives to current theories of economic growth.  It started from the assumption that we all share the goal of changing human behavior to reduce ongoing damage to the ecosystem, but that our understanding of the interactions between human economic behavior and the natural world lacks a credible and adequate picture of the appropriate macroeconomic goals and macroeconomic changes required for movement toward a socially and environmentally just and sustainable macroeconomy.

 

Books

21st Century Macroeconomics: Responding to the Climate Challenge  This edited volume, initiated at the 2006 conference (see above), will be published by Edward Elgar in 2008. 

Economic vitality in a transition to sustainability This booklet by Neva Goodwin, published by the Civil Society Institute, explores some of the implications of the transition from a fossil-energy dependent economy to a climate-stable global economic system. It is part of Growing the Economy through Global Warming Solutions, a series of papers written by experts in the fields of economics, public policy, energy policy, architecture, insurance, investment and transportation detailing the solutions that can be taken off the shelf today to curtail global warming, the governance models needed to encourage such a transition, and the economic benefits of doing so.

Changing Climate, Changing Economy This forthcoming book by Neva Goodwin will explore the deep alterations that need to be made in how the U.S. economy works – and how we understand the economy – if we are to respond appropriately to the enormous challenge of global climate change.  It will examine, for example, what it will mean for workers and for the environment if the service sector continues to grow rapidly (relative to the extractive and industrial sectors of the economy); the concept of common wealth; and how corporations can be brought to align their goals with long-run human well-being. It will include a description of “the-best-we-might-hope-for-economy” of the second half of the 21st century.  In writing this book for a non-academic audience Goodwin will build on the major ideas and themes of the book series she edits for the University of Michigan Press, Evolving Values for a Capitalist World.

 

Teaching Materials

Economics of Global Climate Change
This 42-page teaching module, downloadable for free by professors and students, includes a student reading, discussion questions, and exercises. The module can be used in a variety of undergraduate or graduate courses to expand coverage of the economics of climate change.  It has been updated to take into account new evidence on climate change from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 2007 report, and the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change sponsored by the British Government.

Environmental and Natural Resource Economics
This text by Jonathan M. Harris provides students with the economic tools to understand climate change analysis and policy.  Chapter 13: “Energy: The Great Transition” addresses the need for a transition away from fossil-fuel based economies.  Chapter 18: “Economics of Climate Change” presents an overview of climate change, with a focus on assessing different policy options.  For the upcoming third edition, Harris will incorporate an expanded, central focus on climate change.  The on-line text update, Getting Serious about Global Warming”, further discusses the current state of policy responses such as carbon taxes and tradable permit schemes. 

Macroeconomics in Context
GDAE’s introductory macroeconomics text, available free online through August 2008, discusses climate change as well as other issues of ecological sustainability in Chapter 15: Macroeconomic Challenges for the Twenty-First Century, giving students insight into how macroeconomic theory and policy must be adapted to respond to new environmental realities. 

 

Working Papers and Articles

“Ecological Macroeconomics: Consumption, Investment, and Climate Change,” July 2008. Jonathan Harris.

"Policies for Funding a Response to Climate Change,” July 2008. Brian Roach.

"An Overview of Climate Change: What does it mean for our way of life? What is the best future we can hope for?" March 2008. Neva Goodwin. This working paper provides an introduction to some of the major themes to be dealt with in Goodwin’s forthcoming book, Changing Climate, Changing Economy.

“Economists, Value Judgments, and Climate Change: A View from Feminist Economics This working paper by Julie A. Nelson discusses the importance of ethical issues in the economic analysis of climate change, both concerning questions of intergenerational equity and the value judgments and assumptions about “rationality” that economists apply to the climate issue. (Forthcoming in Ecological Economics.)

Changing Climate, Changing Economy: How to Think about Climate Change
Articles by Neva Goodwin in a 4-part series hosted on “Opinion Sur” are available in English and Spanish from the links below; they can also be located in Portuguese from the “Opinion Sur” site: http://www.surnorte.org.ar/southopinion/index.php
Part 1 (July/07) Changing Climate, Changing Economy   English   Spanish
Part 2 (August/07) What is the economy for?     English   Spanish
Part 3 (September/07) Toward a changed economy – looking backward and forward    
English   Spanish
Part 4 (October/07) Climate change as the immanent perfect storm   English   Spanish

 

Course Offerings

Climate change is a major topic in courses offered by GDAE researchers at Tufts University Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and at Tufts’ Talloires Summer Program:

 

Researchers

Neva R. Goodwin, GDAE Co-Director:  Neva Goodwin is working on a book to be titled “Changing Climate, Changing Economy,” which will explore the implications for the U.S. and the world economies of an adequately large-scale response to climate change. As Co-Director of the Global Development And Environment Institute, she has supervised the six-volume project, Frontier Issues in Economic Thought, and continues to edit a Michigan Press series, Evolving Values for a Capitalist World. Dr. Goodwin is lead author of the introductory college-level textbooks, Microeconomics in Context and Macroeconomics in Context.  She is also leading a project that will create a 300 megabyte "Social Science Library" CD for free distribution to all university libraries in nearly 150 developing countries.

Jonathan M. Harris, Director, Theory and Education Program:  Author of Environmental and Natural Resource Economics: A Contemporary Approach (Houghton Mifflin, 2006), Dr. Harris is also co-editor of the Frontier Issues in Economic Thought volumes A Survey of Sustainable Development, A Survey of Ecological Economics, and Human Well-Being and Economic Goals. He is also editor of Rethinking Sustainability: Power, Knowledge, and Institutions; author of "World Agriculture and the Environment"; and co-author of environmental teaching modules on global climate change and other issues in environmental economics. Dr. Harris has served as Adjunct Associate Professor of International Economics at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and as consultant and lecturer at the Brown University Watson Institute International Scholars of the Environment Program and the University of the Middle East.

Julie A. Nelson, Senior Research Associate: Dr. Nelson is a coauthor of Microeconomics in Context and Macroeconomics in ContextHer current work includes an exploration of the ethical issues related to climate change.  Formerly an Associate Professor of Economics at the University of California-Davis, she has also held appointments at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Brandeis University, the University of Massachusetts Boston, Harvard University, and Bates College. She is author of Economics for Humans (University of Chicago Press), Feminism, Objectivity, and Economics (Routledge), coeditor of Beyond Economic Man: Feminist Theory and Economics and Feminist Economics Today (both University of Chicago Press), and author of numerous scholarly articles.

Brian Roach, Research Associate:  Co-author of the teaching module Economics of Global Climate Change, Dr. Roach's research background has focused on non-market valuation of natural resources.  His current research includes exploration of effective macroeconomic policies to fund a response to climate change.  He teaches courses in environmental economics and the history, theory, and social implications of mass consumerism. His other research includes studies of  the role of large corporations in a global economy, the distributional implications of tax policy in the U.S., and economic inequality.

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