[OPE-L] a down under and dirty plan to remove HET and econ. history from economics department listings

From: glevy@PRATT.EDU
Date: Mon Sep 17 2007 - 11:50:35 EDT

>Subject: A letter to The Australian Bureau of Statistics
>From: "Sumitra Shah" <shahs@stjohns.edu>
>To: "International Association...snip...iaffe-l@lists.carleton.ca>
>Dear folks,
>I am taking the liberty of sending you a copy of my letter to The
>Australian Bureau of Statistics. The background is this: the Bureau
>is revising its research classifications and is planning to remove
>history of economic thought(HET) and economic history from the
>economics listings. The people in the field are extremely upset and
>have sent letters in favor of keeping the fields under economics.
>Some leading scholars in the field argue that it is the heterodox
>schools' close affiliation with HET that has caused its demise even
>in the U.S.A. Some of us disagree and it also led to a discussion of
>heterodoxy. I sent links to the TPM blog on Hip Heterodoxy which we
>had discussed on this list. Following is my letter in support of our
>Australian colleagues in the history of economics field. In it I try
>to address the Bureau's concern about how research should be relevant
>to socio-economic objectives.
>Best, Sumitra
>I am joining my colleagues in the History of Economics Society in
>requesting you that the proposal to move history of economic thought
>(HET) as an academic field out of the economics departments should be
>rescinded. Sandra Peart, the president of HES, and the executive
>board and many others have ably made the case that such a change
>would be harmful to the teaching of economics and to the research
>activities of scholars interested in the field.
>I would like to focus on another area of research which is thriving
>in many economics departments in the U. S. I am referring to feminist
>economics which has emerged as an important specialization. Its
>investigations and findings are used by international bodies like
>United Nations to formulate policies which make a real difference in
>the lives of women around the world. That difference is crucial for
>the very survival of women in poor and developing countries. An
>example is the "Program on Knowledge Networking and Capacity Building
>on Gender, Macroeconomics and International Economics" at the
>University of Utah which is hosted by the economics department.
>One of the strengths of feminist economics is to understand the
>weaknesses of economics as currently practiced by revealing the
>biases built in the making of economic theory from its inception. The
>androcentric hidden assumptions of the discipline can make for
>misguided analyses and policy prescriptions that maybe harmful to
>women, even if impeccable scientific tools are applied in the
>process. The very development of gender as a category of economic
>analysis is based on critically examining the history of economic
>thought. That does not detract from the power of economics as a
>science; it only enriches it. I would like to suggest that it is the
>purpose of universities and public institutions to encourage
>multi-faceted research into the economic aspects of our lives. HET
>and feminist economics are integral parts of some of our research
>programs. And so it is true for many others which my colleagues have
>mentioned as closely dependent on the history of economics. Removing
>HET from the economics departments will adversely affect their
>viability. Thank you.
>Sumitra Shah
>St. John's University

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