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Local York U students 'rethinking economics' to resonate with youth

Group aims to tackle issues like transitioning to a green economy, and pay and income inequality 
York University students have started a Rethinking Economics chapter to discuss climate change and income inequality policies.

A Newmarket student has started a group at York University to tackle economic issues in a way that resonates with today's youth.

Rethinking Economics is a global network of students and organizers trying to find a new way of teaching economics to address challenges like climate change and inequality.

"In Canada right now, there is a lot of talk about the carbon tax, which is certainly interesting," said Ethan Tucker. "There are a lot of economists who support it, a lot that say it raises inflation and concerns about affordability. I think there are a lot of interesting policies."

Tucker, an economics student at York and member of its Rethinking Economics chapter, is encouraging new members, including professionals, professors, and students from York Region, to join and attend events.

There are more than 120 Rethinking Economics groups worldwide in 40 countries. The group at York University was initiated after students wanted a place to have pluralistic and interdisciplinary discussions on economic issues, global inequality and the environment. 

"I'm taking a class right now called ecological economics, and my professor in that class told us about this international organization," said Tucker. "In talking to her about it, I was motivated to bring one to York. There is one currently at McGill (University) and a couple in the States, but none at UofT or York. These are issues I have been engaged with over the last two years."

The COVID-19 pandemic showed how vulnerable societies are and revealed how unprepared the economics discipline was to understand and provide solutions to the challenge. 

The group found that most economics programs are orthodox, and students in environmental, gender studies, or political science rarely interact with economics students or even among themselves, he said. They hope to run events and provide resources to bridge this gap.

"We've been fighting against climate change and raising awareness of the effects of climate change," said Reet Sharma, a business economics student. "Part of the climate change (problem) I have seen is fast fashion growth over recent years."

Sharma heard about the group from a friend with similar classes who told her the club looks for inclusive, pluralistic perspectives.

"Having like-minded individuals, especially in the subject of economics, is always essential," said Sharma. "Having a team that is brilliant and pushing forward with different perspectives and inclusiveness is helpful. All team members are from different majors, so we have a diversity of majors bringing their opinions and fascinating new ideas to promote and reform economic education as a whole."

The group wants to see economies tailored for people and the planet today. They plan to spark change using climate-conscious, community-focused evidence to promote critical, open, diverse dialogue.

They found that specific laws or regulations can't be changed because of the negative effect on the economy. Still, they wanted to see how the world could, for example, transition to a green economy and what it would look like.

"We might run case competition events around this," said Tucker. "We're interested in climate change and what solutions are out there to tackle it to try to get students involved."

The group is dedicated to enlightening its members on the ongoing social and economic crises, such as the imperative to transition to a green economy and the issue of pay and income inequality. 

To learn more about the York University group, email [email protected] or follow their Instagram at @reyorkuc