Canadian student perspectives on new economic thinking: reflections from the INET conference at Bretton Woods

About the series

The short essays in this series are by CIGI-sponsored Canadian university students who attended the INET conference, Crisis and Renewal: International  Political Economy at the Crossroads, at Bretton Woods, NH, April 8–11, 2011. Each student was asked to write a short reflection on the conference themes.

The Canadian students selected to attend the conference were from both undergraduate and graduate economics programs at Canadian universities. In addition to attending the conference sessions, they joined their American counterparts at a joint CIGI-INET student breakfast session where students raised questions about policy development, the continued gender imbalance in economics and the shortcomings in current economics curriculum offerings.   

(Image Credit: Mount Washington Hotel, Bretton Woods, NH/TalkingTree/Flickr)


In the Series

The importance of re-evaluating the nature and structure of current governance systems was made abundantly clear at the recent INET conference. Gordon Brown, the former prime minister of the United Kingdom, noted that for the first time, the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the United States and the European Union was smaller than that of the rest of the world.
Economic crises arise as a result of the breakdown of key components of the financial system, which need to be addressed in order to promote recovery and continued stability. The INET conference held at Bretton Woods was an ideal place for a discussion of these components.
I was extremely excited by the opportunity to attend the INET conference in Bretton Woods. The list of speakers was very impressive and the conference sessions covered a range of interesting topics. Although I was especially looking forward to the two sessions on the European Union (EU) and Asia, all of the sessions I attended were stimulating.
When I was invited to attend the INET conference at Bretton Woods, I felt it was an opportunity to do something quite different from my ordinary studies. It was a chance to meet and learn from world-class thinkers, who use the tools of economics and apply them to some of the greatest challenges our society faces today. It was a chance to see the tools I am studying in action, in the hands of some of their most able practitioners.
“Politics has returned to the national.” Those were the words of former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown at the INET conference on April 8–11, 2011. He called for renewed vigour to be applied towards developing cooperative economic and regulatory standards in the face of significant retrenchments towards national economic spheres. As the global economy emerges from the uncertainty of the post-2007 global economic crisis, its future architecture remains clouded from view as a result of continued challenges to the development of a truly representative and practical set of global economic and financial regulatory standards that can better enable sustained progress and development well into the twenty-first century.
The INET conference in Bretton Woods was an exceptional opportunity to hear firsthand the opinions of leading scholars from all over the world. The historical significance of the Mount Washington Hotel in Bretton Woods made the experience truly memorable.
We live in an increasingly globalized world. That this notion has grown hopelessly clichéd does not render its content less salient, nor its insights less relevant. While the origins of the most recent financial crisis cannot be attributed to economic globalization alone, this phenomenon — at the very least — structured the turbulent events that followed.