For the delegates who attended the 2018 edition of the Warwick Economics Summit (WES), the weekend of the 2nd – 4th February will be one that they are unlikely to forget easily. Listening to and engaging with a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, a former Italian Prime Minister, a former Governor of the Bank of England and numerous other world-class speakers, all in the period of two and a half days, is an opportunity that not many people can claim to have had during their university studies. The WES 2018 delegates, however, experienced this and much more.
The University of Warwick saw 500 students from a range of universities across the globe gather at the Oculus, the state-of-the-art teaching centre built in 2016, for the annual event, which is one of the largest student-run conferences in Europe. Delegates represented a total of 37 academic institutions spanning across four continents and twelve countries, including Germany, Sweden, The Gambia, Mexico, the US, to name but a few.
The conference hosted a variety of high-profile and distinguished speakers, from Lord Mervyn King, former Governor of the Bank of England, to Cecilia Skingsley, Deputy Governor of the Swedish Central Bank, from Professor John B. Taylor, author of the eponymous and highly renowned monetary policy rule, to Dame Barbara Stocking, former CEO of Oxfam, as well as Dr. Mahmoud Mohieldin, World Bank Group Senior Vice President for the 2030 Development Agenda, and Professor Guy Standing, co-founder of the Basic Income Earth Network.
Every speaker tackled a different topic, sharing insights from their academic research, professional experience or both, and readily answering questions from the delegates. Professor Taylor, for example, was asked whether he thinks that there has been a change in thought about the Federal Reserve under US President Trump compared to the previous Administration. The Stanford University economist replied that, in fact, he views Trump’s recent decision to nominate Jerome Powell to the position of Chair of the Fed as a sign of continuity, since Powell has been a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors since 2012.
The opening speech of the Summit was delivered by Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and human rights activist. Karman told the story of how she co-founded the movement “Women Journalists Without Chains” and called the people of Yemen to “wake up and stand up against the dictator”, contributing to the “peaceful revolution” of the Arab Spring. Speaking about the conflict in Yemen today, the Nobel Peace Prize winner attributed the chaos in her country to a “counter-revolution” led by “those who have been harmed by change”. “Own your dream”, she told the young audience, adding that students should make their voices heard in society.
Mervyn King speaking at WES (Photo by Gabriele Stravinskaite)
Students found of significant relevance the speech by Professor Mario Monti, Former Prime Minister of Italy, who reflected on the trajectory of the European Union (EU). Despite Brexit, the influential economist and President of Bocconi University expressed firm optimism on the prospects of the EU. When the UK voted to exit the EU in June 2016, Monti feared that other countries in the Union would move away from European integration. The opposite has been true, noted the former Italian PM, who has observed a greater sense of responsibility among the heads of government of EU member states following the UK’s Brexit referendum.
Equally topical and thought-provoking was the talk given by Laurence Tubiana, CEO of the European Climate Foundation. Speaking about the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, Tubiana defined the accord as a “huge achievement” and a “new DNA” for climate governance. She also revealed her disappointment for the US’s withdrawal from the Agreement, though was impressed by the fact that no other country followed suit.
The Warwick Economics Summit, however, did not consist in merely a series of guest lectures. Other important features of the event included the “Meet the Speakers” sessions, where small groups of delegates could converse with speakers in a more informal setting, as well as interactive seminars and a panel debate on the topic of “The future of work”. Moreover, WES is a social experience as much as it is an intellectual one. Networking opportunities as well as the acclaimed Saturday night Ball provided students with the chance to meet fellow delegates and build relationships that may last beyond the Summit weekend.
It is needless to say that the Warwick Economics Summit is truly a unique and memorable event.
WES is so much more than a conference on economics. It is an organisation that works relentlessly throughout the entire year to provide students with the opportunity to reflect, discuss, form opinions and share ideas on a wide array of topics – ranging from sustainable development to blockchain technology – surrounded by eminent figures experts in their field and curious, motivated young minds.
This extraordinary event would not have been made possible without the tireless efforts of the 57 Warwick students who were part of this year’s organising committee of the Warwick Economics Summit and who worked very hard together towards a common goal: organizing and delivering the best possible Summit experience to the delegates. The passion, commitment and creativity demonstrated by the organising team is a testament to the results that students are able to achieve when they are empowered.
I am confident that the Warwick Economics Summit will go from strength to strength in the years to come. I am looking forward to seeing you all at WES 2019!
P.S.: If you are keen on getting involved for WES 2019, keep an eye on the WES Facebook page for updates on recruitment!
Overall the Warwick Economics Summit was enlightening. I liked the diversity of the people and the mix of subjects of the talks, which were not just about economics. I am excited that I came, it was worth the trip from California – Amal, UCLA Student
Karman’s influence is quite big. What I enjoyed is that she spoke about the war between Yemen and Saudi Arabia and how she explained why Yemen is a “forgotten land”. She put it in a very frank way and that is how it needs to be put. That is a type of discussion that we should be having there as much as here. I loved her optimism – Ahmed, 3rd Year Economics Student, University of Warwick
The Summit was great. I loved the diversity of the speakers and the chance to meet them. I made new friends. It is definitely one of the best conferences – Leo, University of Edinburgh Student
Really well-organised conference with a good vibe – Alex, 2nd Year History Student, University of Warwick