During this cooperation on Economic Literacy, the project partners neglected one crucial topic: work. It is of high relevance in times of crisis, wars on resources, digitalisation and the current structural changes of our economies. For this reason, the project group develops another learning platform on just this issue. Find here access to the project website and discover…
Would you like to understand how money is created? What the different facets of inequality are and how to address them? What economic growth, climate change and sustainable development are all about? Why we live in a “debt economy” – and what about global justice? Do you want to learn something about taxes without having to yawn? Then immerse yourself in courses we have written for you on these and other topics. We are adult educators and researchers from seven European countries.
For an overview of the respective topic we offer a short version; plus background information for those who want to learn more. For those in a hurry, we have prepared a short introduction to each course. Adult education trainers will also find methodological suggestions (didactic exercises) for integrating socio-economic issues into their educational work.
Learning is not a one-way street: You can deepen your knowledge in interactive exercises. You can exchange ideas with others through the forum. You can connect with us via the chat.
ITD – Innovación, Transferencia y Desarrollo hosted an event in Barcelona/Spain on 21st July 2022 to introduce economic education to interested citizens. It started with a sociometric exercise. In this way, the participants were asked what they knew about the different schools of economic thought, about neoclassicism, the marginalists, Marx, Keynes and others. Then the ITD team’s course on different economic theories was put up for discussion. This was combined with a look at the history of economic thought. It was amazing for the participants to see the impact theory can have in political and social practice. Theory can be quite practical!
This also became clear when the discussion turned to the course “Economic Strategies to manage the crises“. In it, different options were reflected: a political strategy to promote market mechanisms or a policy in which the state takes action to economic recovery through investments. They were debated using the example of Spain during the 2007-12 crisis. Viewed in the European horizon, that is, adding the influence of the European Central Bank, the Commission and other institutions, a mix of both was noted.
“We should talk more often about economic issues.” “Somehow I perceive what is happening. Now I understand some things better.” This was the feedback from two participants.
Lublin/Poland: The University of Economics WSEI invited to an event on 23rd June 2022 to make the project and its results known to a wider public in Lublin. The two university lecturers Dr Marcin Marczuk and Prof. Tomasz Wołowiec presented the project and the content of the courses they had written on “Europe: Competition or Cooperation?” and “Migration: Economic and Social Effects in Europe“.
Artur Grzesiak then demonstrated the interactive and didactic parts of both courses. He followed by presenting the other courses of the European colleagues. Mr. Grzesiak emphasised that the content of the learning platform was designed for students, adults of different age groups as well as adult educators. The courses may contribute to making economic topics as well as non-formal methods more often the subject of adult education.
In the exchange with the speakers, the participants made special reference to the contribution to migration. The reason for this is topical. Since the war, many people from Ukraine have come to Poland. The question of economic and social effects is thus not an abstract one, but arises concretely in the city where one lives.
14th June 2022: The Peipsi Centre for Transboundary Cooperation in Tartu / Estonia organised a discussion on questions of an environmentally sustainable economy today and in the future. The 40 participants – students as well as adult educators – were introduced to the two contributions that a staff member of the organisation had prepared for the project’s learning platform. One is the course on “Public Goods and Social Welfare“. The other was a course on “Economic Growth and Sustainable Development“.
On the second topic, a debate ensued about “green” growth: does this approach offer an opportunity or is it more of a pitfall? Is it an illusion to strive for a green-capitalist economy? Does it have a future at all? Or is it the only sensible way forward? If so, how do we get there? What needs to change for this to happen? Can the concept of development help? What does “sustainable development” mean? What accents are set by the different economic schools on this topic? The exchange made it clear that these questions about the future are of great concern to young people in particular.
The second part of the event was dedicated to the further courses of the learning platform. The presentations were especially addressed to adult educators. They should be encouraged to include economic issues more in their educational activities.
“It is great that such projects exist”, “The platform offers a lot of material”.
What is the role of adult economic literacy with a global justice perspective when working on the cultural impacts of forced migration?
Partner organisation Financial Justice Ireland, based in Dublin, Ireland co-hosted a seminar/workshop on 23rd July and a smaller second event on 27th July to present and promote the learning platform for adult and community educators.
Some of the questions we looked at included: What are the connections between tax avoidance by multinational corporations and migration? Why is it important to understand the issue of sovereign debt and debt crises in the Global North and South when working towards economic and social justice in community contexts? How can adult and community educators working on issues of migration and community integration incorporate economic and financial justice issues into their work? How does the learning platform function? What is the structure and where are the activity guides for educators/facilitators?
In relation to the themes covered, participants were surprised to see so many connections being made across the issues of tax, debt, forced migration and cultural heritage. Regarding the learning platform more generally, there was a lot of interest expressed in exploring the platform further and using it as a way of breaking down accessibility barriers to incorporating economics and finance issues into adult and community education work.
How to face the current economic challenges and inequalities?
The partner organisation AVITEUM, based in Prague / Czech Republic, hosted a seminar on 22nd June 2022 to present the learning platform and stimulate an exchange on economic challenges. The programme included these questions: How does the economy affect our lives? Do women and men have different positions in the labour market? What is feminist economics and how can it contribute to reducing inequalities? How can we inform ourselves about economic issues? What practical tools are available to us for this? Which ones are offered by the learning platform? Finally, how can we tackle the current economic challenges?
In this way, the Czech colleagues took up aspects that they had worked on themselves (Feminist Economics, Women’s Economic Empowerment). At the same time, they integrated questions on which colleagues from the partner organisations had developed courses and presented them to a broad audience for discussion.
Participants articulated a high appreciation for the thematic diversity that is evident through the learning platform. They also indicated that more educational materials were needed on how to use savings to avoid loss of value through inflation. Similarly, readiness to acquire digital skills and critical thinking should be promoted. It was also suggested to include the issue of gender equality in companies and also to claim for new calls through the ESF programme accordingly.
As the event showed, reflecting on economic challenges can set a lot in motion…
Socio-economic education on inequality and the climate crisis
Under this title, the Vienna University of Economics and Business invited to a public event at the Volkshochschule Wiener Urania on 14th June 2022 to introduce the learning platform to a wider public and to practise socio-economic education. Reference was given to the observation that the climate crisis challenges not only the way societies shape their economies, but also what and how we learn about the economies.
Thanks to the cooperation with the Adult Education Centre, adult educators, one of the target groups, were also present. They could get into the topic by getting to know the method of “economic speed dating” right at the beginning. What is behind this? Quite simple: When music is played, the participants move around the room (regardless of the number of participants). When the music stops, they start a conversation with the person standing next to them. The trainer asks the questions.
This interactive prelude was followed by a thematic impulse on “Sustainable Economies” and later on by two exercises, which in turn invited event visitors to “learning by participating”: One was a discussion on possible measures to reduce social and environmental inequality. The other involved “freewriting” about facets of a sustainable society. By this, the focus was not only on analysing problem areas. Ideas were also asked for and thus acknowledging that overcoming all the challenges is a (learning) task for society as a whole. Thus attuned to thinking about socio-economic issues, the learning platform was presented to the audience as the “culmination” of the evening.
Over snacks and drinks, the participants continued their discussions in smaller groups.
weltgewandt e.V. invited together with the public library Wolfdietrich Schnurre an event to launch the learning platform on Economic Literacy in Europe in Berlin on 19th May 2022. The seats were all taken as four colleagues presented their courses on Modern Monetary Theory, Strategies to Manage a Crises, Introduction to Feminist Economics and Economy and Climate for discussion. In times of burgeoning inflation, the course on Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) in particular provoked questions from the audience. Is it appropriate for a government to spend money and create jobs even if government revenues are not too high? Can spending money lead to inflation? No, it cannot, say representatives of MMT. Why? The best way to find out is to read the course.
Following this, money was also the focus of interest. Attention now turned to the question of its digitalisation and that is, according to plans of the European Central Bank to introduce a Digital Euro. What consequences will this have for citizens? What is likely to be a curse and what a blessing?
Guests were invited who discuss different positions on the topic: Dirk Schrade from the Deutsche Bundesbank (as part of the System of European Central Banks), Dr. Norbert Häring, journalist and book author, and Dr. Dirk Ehnts, board spokesman of the Pufendorf Society. The latter questioned the economic necessity of a digital euro – that is, of “electronic cash”. Digital payment has long been common practice and works well, he said. “We have the solution, but we don’t know what the problem is” – to which the digital euro should provide the answer.
Dirk Schrade referred to the reasons for the intended introduction: a) technical developments because less cash would be used especially in some countries and b) currency competition. He was referring to the Libra, now Diem project by Facebook (today Meta). Its worldwide implementation would have affected the power of central banks in favour of large corporations. Dr. Norbert Häring, on the other hand, warned against the abolition of cash and the associated loss of privacy. He pointed to the danger that a digital euro could go hand in hand with the introduction of a social credit system on the Chinese model. Corresponding pilot projects are already being implemented in Bologna, Rome, Vienna and Bavaria, he said.
“Democracy must be defended,” meant Dirk Schrader and emphasised that much depends on how a digital euro is designed.
Afterwards, the audience discussed this and other questions with the speakers and with each other over summer rolls, pretzels and drinks.
… basic socio-economic education in Lublin/Poland
Social inequality, ecology, climate, housing, health, gender justice, etc. – almost everything has an economic dimension. You don’t have to have a higher education to understand such connections. This is exactly the approach of our cooperation of colleagues from seven European countries. They met from 22nd to 26th February 2022 for a five-day workshop at the WSEI University in Lublin/Poland to discuss socio-economic topics and to test methods for Economic Literacy in adult education.
One session started with an “economic speed dating” about social inequality. What connection do the participants see between inequality and self-confidence, what connections between inequality and climate change or health? In a subsequent input could the colleagues learn definitions of inequality, aspects of the history of global inequality, today’s income and wealth inequality between countries, and more. The different ways in which societies contribute to CO2 emissions and thus to global warming were also discussed.
Then curiosity and intuition were asked for as participants explored the environment, considering these questions: “Where can you perceive inequality?”, “Who is the infrastructure (not) built for?”, “What role does money play?”, “Where around you might there be inequality that you cannot see?”.
The exchange about the explorations afterwards moved on to discussing measures to minimise inequality. After all, the division into rich and poor, healthy and non-healthy, impaired – non-impaired etc. is not just a moral problem that comes with humiliation for those affected. It is a macroeconomic problem that affects the whole society. Economies miss their potential and resources are wasted.
In the course of the week, a whole bouquet of topics and methods was gathered to develop educational materials for the common learning platform. The focus was also on issues of growth and sustainability, taxation, different schools of economics, migration, feminist economics and the further digitalisation of money.
After the experience of an online workshop in November 2020, the project group had opted for a hybrid event this time. Thus, participants from four partner organisations in Lublin and colleagues from Barcelona, Dublin and Tartu (Estonia) were present on screen. This enabled a much more intensive, inspiring learning experience.
Feedback from one participant: “Now I have an idea of a European cooperation. An ecxiting and very fruitful experience.“