Not a mystery: Workshop on …

… 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.

Feminist Economics and Ecological Growth

They are like a „conversation salon“ as we know it from the age of enlightenment. Our regular online meetings. This time, the Czech and Estonian colleagues presented their contributions to the learning platform. Feminist economics is seen in contrast to the neoclassical school of economics. The difference in the view of human beings is particularly striking. Neoclassical economists start from the assumption of “homo economicus“, who always makes rational decisions, is free of any social influence, pursues his interests and has unlimited needs. Feminist economists, on the other hand, assume that human beings are relational ones who are shaped by various influences such as gender, age, social status, values, and so on. Accordingly, people’s decisions would be influenced by various factors – if only because of unequal starting points.

Economic growth and sustainability – is that possible? What is it about “green growth”, “de-growth” or “social limits to growth”? And what does “decoupling” mean? What are the different approaches to sustainability? A topic that can provoke lively debates. The colleagues brought their knowledge to the table. For example, the reference to the growth dilemma or to a socially acceptable, sustainable “degrowth” of economic development.

Time and again, methodological questions came up: Are the statements clear enough and easy to grasp? Does clarity come at the expense of complexity? How can both be combined in a meaningful way – if only to enable a diversity of perspectives? But without confusing?

Not exactly in a dignified salon atmosphere, but it was a cultivated exchange this time too, factual, carried by respect and the interest in learning new things.