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Rethinking Economics

Create a campaign to encourage a new audience to engage with and take ownership of economics, challenging its current perception.

Background

Economics is a powerful discipline. Economists hold influential positions in the public and private sector, making policy and business decisions on behalf of the workforce. The media constantly refers to the state of the economy and economic policies. Politicians use economic arguments to win the public’s vote. Whether or not people actively engage with economics, the way it is used has a direct impact on everybody’s daily life. 

Yet currently, many people don’t feel able to take part in conversations on the economy, alienated by the jargon and the disconnect between what economists talk about and their personal experiences. In a survey of 1,548 GB adults we conducted with YouGov 70% of respondents didn’t know what Quantitative Easing is and 60% couldn’t define GDP[1] despite the fact that these issues dominate politics. A widespread lack of understanding of economics prevents citizens holding their government and experts accountable or making informed decisions about which parties best represent their interests in elections. 

This state of affairs represents not only a crisis of education and academia, but also of democracy.  Without framing some of the most important questions we face as a society in a language that relates to people’s daily lives, we cannot hope to achieve legitimate democratic debate - in which economics plays a vital part. 

About Rethinking Economics

Rethinking Economics (RE) is an international network of students, thinkers, and citizens, coming together to demystify, diversify, and invigorate economics. We’re looking to foster a better understanding of everyday economics for all, as well as reforming the way economics is taught at the university level to be more critical, contextualised and rooted in the real world. We connect and support student groups in 35 universities across the world; 12 of these are in the UK. Our central Organisers’ Hub is located in London where we were founded in 2013. We’ve hosted conferences in Manchester, London, and New York, facilitated workshops in schools questioning economics with sixth form students, run a six-week evening Crash Course in Manchester for the public, and prompted discussion and reform at universities on how economics should be taught. 

Proposition & target audience
 
We are attempting to democratise economics in three main ways…

1)    A popular public education and current affairs website: 

We are creating an accessible, creative and engaging online resource on the economy for the general public. Updated on a regular basis, we'll cover current affairs, fundamental economic concepts, and interesting new ideas in the field, using humour, analogies and cultural references to start a broader conversation on economics. The idea is to reframe economic concepts in direct relation to people's daily lives, writing in accessible, jargon-free language to enable the public to engage with the subject and see why it matters. The website will be divided into Learn, Engage, and Act. Learn will be an online curriculum of sorts on the economics of daily life; Engage will be commentary on current affairs and economic issues; and Act will be ways to engage with the movement and learn more. 

2)    The Citizen’s Crash-Course in Economics

We are trialing a six week course for adults in Manchester which we will roll out around the UK in 2016. The aim is to provide an opportunity for everyone to gain the basic knowledge and confidence needed to engage with economic issues in politics and their daily lives. Crash Courses will be organised and facilitated by student organisers with support from academics. 

Over six interactive sessions this ‘Crash-Course’ in everyday economics will give participants the tools and skills to better understand economic issues that affect our day to day lives in way that is fun, accessible, and easy to understand. This course will cover: how economics relates to our everyday lives, how our work, households, and environment are affected by economics and how much economics is related to values, history, and politics. 

Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/events/168817456793866/ 

3)    Schools Workshops

Rethinking Economics is partnering up with schools and colleges around the UK to deliver economics workshops to young students. The aim of the workshops is to broaden young students’ perspectives on the economy and the meaning of the term economics. We hope to ignite an interest for economics in students by helping them explore different theories and ideas in economics and enriching their theoretical knowledge of economics by applying it to contemporary issues such as inequality, climate change and the financial crisis. Through this process, the project also aims to foster critical thinking about the discipline of economics and the structure of A-level education. 

The Creative Challenge

We are looking for creative ways to show people that economics is for everyone. Although we’re happy for you to come up with ideas that link directly to one of our projects, we’d love to be able to implement them across our workshops, courses, and online platforms. We are young and don’t have a significant comms budget - TV ads and national billboard campaigns for example are beyond the scope of what we can achieve. We need simple, transferrable campaigns that can be carried out by our student member groups worldwide, perhaps in print, or online. 


We’ve explored creative approaches before - from having a mirror with ‘This is what an economist looks like’ written on it at our conference to asking young people in our workshops to draw an economist and challenging their images of old white men with top hats, and drawing economic maps where we all belong - but we feel there’s so much more that can be done to convey the importance of economics to everyone in a creative way. Ideas need to directly challenge the view that economics is a technical, boring subjects for experts and politicians, instead highlighting how relevant it is to our daily lives

This could be: 
-    Visual materials and techniques we can use in our online platforms, social media and workshops to connect people’s daily lives and realities to economic concepts
-    Ideas for how we can use public spaces to encourage people stop and think about economic ideas - these should be easy to record and publicise on our online platforms
-    Ideas for how to empower people to engage with our online platform, write for our website and attend our courses by demonstrating to them that their voice matters
-    Ideas for short video and animation content that can bring the subject to life, and be easily shared online.

Don’t be constrained by the possible approaches above. We’re keeping this deliberately very broad, and open to interpretation.

Our strengths lie in the size of our network and our growing online and social media presence. The centre of attention shouldn’t be our logo or name, but the message itself of taking ownership over economics. The key part of our campaign is empowering our audience to take action - we’re not only looking to advertise our own ideas, we’re also looking to empower them to vocalise theirs. 


What is the personality?

We’re curious, critical and open-minded. We embrace diversity, debate, and change. We’re a movement, not an organisation - we want as many people as possible to engage in the conversation on shaping our future. 


Audience

We’re looking to reach people who are actively switched off by talk and coverage of economics. We’re aiming to reach those who dislike figures, stats, and jargon and feel economics has no relevance to their lives. We want to make it easy for people whose busy lives make it difficult for them to find the mental space for broader social issues to engage with economic ideas in a creative, accessible way.  

Deliverables & Additional Information

For guidance on how to submit your work, please adhere to the main deliverables information which can be found at the YCN website.

Any additional information referenced in the brief can be found in the supporting Project Pack at the YCN website.

 

[1] see http://www.theguardian.com /politics/2015/mar/16/lack-of-financial-literacy-among-voters-is-a-threat-to-democracy