This post is the first of a Communicating Economics series outlining what I’ve been reading, attending or thinking about over the past week or so.
The week of our launch began on the bank holiday Monday with me and Diane Coyle of and the pulling together the initial version of a directory of economists from around the country who are available to speak to journalists about policy issues during the UK general election campaign.
Economists who haven’t yet signed up are welcome to join us; and journalists who would like to have the list of researchers and their areas of expertise and contact details, please do get in touch. We’re also tweeting links to a variety of policy commentaries and election-related reports using the hashtag
Last Wednesday, the hosted a conference on communicating economics to university students. The , led by , has been in operation now for nearly four years creating a new curriculum for introductory economics – ‘economics for a changing world’, as they call it, or ‘’. Wendy recently took part in a BBC World Service programme called ‘’
On Friday, the day that Communicating Economics launched, the ran a at the UK Treasury on the public’s understanding of economics, how economic literacy might be improved, and the relationship between economists and the media.
The conference took place with the support of the Government Economic Service, the and the – and it featured the results of a survey of commissioned by ING and the Economics Network and conducted by YouGov.
The online poll of more than 1,700 respondents across the UK asked a series of questions about their understanding of economics, how they access economic news and how to improve communication of economic analysis and evidence to the general public. The results show that people instinctively understand that economics is relevant to their everyday lives – but the majority have never studied it; few understand what economists do; and about half read stories about economics less often than once a week.
I have also helped to publicise another YouGov survey published this week: commissioned by Germany’s TUI Foundation, this poll reports the in France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Poland, Spain and the UK ().
Among the survey’s findings: for three out of four young Europeans, the core of the European Union (EU) is not its shared values, but rather economic cooperation; more than one in three want the EU to return political power to national governments; one in every five thinks that their country should leave the EU; and only half of young Europeans regard democracy as the best form of government.
The Head of Communication at TUI is Christian Rapp, with whom I first worked in 2011, when he invited me to help publicise the meetings of Nobel laureates and young researchers at . The sixth takes place this coming August (), and Bob Denham and I will be there.
Finally, on a sad note, I attended the funeral/memorial service of my old friend and mentor John Davey, bon viveur and brilliant publisher – of books in geography, history, linguistics and much else. One of his authors, geographer Derek Gregory, has written a , neatly capturing John’s all-round love of life, including his ability to encourage top scholars to communicate their work effectively in books for readers both within and beyond academia.