Online Course on the Crisis (UMass/CPE)

We just received this from the folks at the Center for Popular Economics:

If you have ever asked yourself…

  • Whats really behind the current crisis and is the answer more regulation by the government?
  • Why does our economy periodically suffer from such crises?
  • What should a well-functioning economy do?
  • What’s the connection behind lower wages for ordinary workers and large Wall Street bonuses?
  • How do we build a more just and sustainable economy?

…then this course is for you!

The Economic Crisis and the Case for a Solidarity Economy

An Online Course offered by the Center for Popular Economics

Summer Session I (June 1 – July 9, 2009)

Course Fee: $900 for THREE Univ. of Massachusetts Credits or $400 for non-credit students.

40-60 Professional Development Points (in MA) or 3.6 Continuing Education Credits (outside MA) available.

Limited scholarships available for non-credit students.

The Center for Popular Economics, in collaboration with the Forum on Social Wealth and the Political Economy Research Institute at Univ. of Massachusetts, Amherst is offering a special topics 3-credit online course (Econ 197) this Summer. The course runs from Monday, June 1st till Thursday July 9th. No background in Economics is required. The course is suited for students as well as activists and community members who want to learn more about the current economic crises, its causes and its solutions. Click here for more information. You can also contact Amit Basole at abasole[ @ ] or Emily Kawano at emily[ @ ] for more details.

Overview: The current economics crisis has once again raised the question with great urgency: what purpose do we want our economy to fulfill? Is it fulfilling this purpose today? If not, what can we do about it? In this course we will place special emphasis on the ongoing economic and financial crisis and its long-term and short-term causes and consequences. We will also discuss various alternative economic models rooted in principles of economic democracy, cooperation and sustainability. Finally, we will talk about a vast store of wealth that communities everywhere possess and on which they can draw for constructing alternatives.

The course is comprised of two main parts. Part One takes a look at how 30 years of neoliberal economic policy created the conditions for the present crisis, which threatens to be the most severe since the Great Depression. Falling or stagnant wages for the majority of Americans, rising and unsustainable levels of debt in the economy, and a poorly regulated financial sector all played a part in precipitating the crisis. We will also go beyond the crisis and attempt fo understand how our economic model has allowed unprecedented accumulation of wealth by a few and while bringing low wages, longer work hours, and rising healthcare and education costs for the many, in addition to a deterioration of our natural and social environment. We start with a look at the historical roots of neoliberalism and then try to understand the economics behind it.

In Part Two, we will talk about how some of the things that we saw going wrong in Part One can be set right. Building a just economy that is not prone to repeated crises depends on the efforts we make. In the midst of growing inequality and corporate power, many grassroots economic alternatives have been springing up throughout the U.S. as well as the rest of the world. This is the new “Solidarity Economy.” Grounded in principles of economic democracy, social solidarity, cooperation, egalitarianism, and sustainability, this is an alternative to the Neoliberal vision of the economy. In this part of the course we will look at some examples of such alternatives, including alternatives to the current financial system, as well as understand the economics behind them. We will also see how an economy organized around solidarity principles can tap into reservoirs of social wealth, assets that all communities possess; our cultural and ecological commons and our capacity to work for those we care.

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