21 August 2020 - Introductory economics courses provide an opportunity to connect the economic assumptions of human behavior with their realization and legitimacy in social norms. Given that social norms dictate economic outcomes, the questioning of the behavioral assumptions in economics, specifically insatiable appetites to consume and profit maximization/cost minimization, would appear appropriate. Such a discussion allows for the evaluation of the alignment of social norms with sustainability values: environmental and social justice and economic equity, presenting an opportunity to address how the teaching and the related practice of economics promote unsustainable outcomes. This approach underscores the significance of an interdisciplinary approach to sustainability education.
In "Making Economics relevant: Incorporating SDG 8 and SDG 12 in the curriculum, an interdisciplinary discussion", SDG 8, Economic Growth and Decent Work and SDG 12, Responsible Consumption and Production will be addressed from the perspective of prevailing economic assumptions. The discussion will address how to engage students in a critical assessment of current practices specific to SDG 8 and SDG 12 and fundamentally, provide them with a classroom forum to understand how and why the practice of economics needs to be modified in order to promote sustainability as a social norm.
The discussion will address the following topics: decoupling, carbon taxation, exploitation, competitive advantage, opportunity cost, valuing the environment, externalities, lifecycle assessment, cradle to cradle/cradle to waste, economic growth, alternative economic indicators of progress and stakeholder engagement. The webinar will be of value to anyone seeking to increase economic literacy and will provide an understanding as well as tools to promote understanding of the relationship between an economic framework and the sustainability of its outcomes. No prior economics knowledge is required and the discussion will be interdisciplinary.
Madhavi Venkatesan is an academic economist and environmental activist. She joined the faculty of the Department of Economics at Northeastern University in 2017 as an Assistant Teaching Professor. Previously, while a faculty member at Bridgewater State University, she published three economics textbooks under the series A Framework for Sustainable Practices: Economic Principles: A Primer, Foundations of Microeconomics, and Foundations for Macroeconomics. In 2018, Madhavi traveled to the Philippines as the Fulbright-SyCip Distinguished Lecturer, where her lectures focused on the Economics of Climate Change. In 2019 she published her fourth text, SDG8 - Sustainable Economic Growth and Decent Work for All, and her forthcoming text, Economics of Sustainability is scheduled to be published by Springer in late 2020. She is under contract with Routledge to write a text of SDG 12.
In 2016, Madhavi established Sustainable Practices, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission "to facilitate a culture of sustainability as defined by reducing the human-made impact to the planet and its ecosystems" within Barnstable County, Massachusetts and is the organization's executive director. She earned a Ph.D., MA, and BA in economics from Vanderbilt University, an ALM in sustainability and environmental management from Harvard University, and a MA in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School. Madhavi has contributed to the literature on the relationship between culture, sustainability, and economics. Her academic interests include the relationship between economic systems and cultural convergence and the integration of sustainability into the economics curriculum.