For economics as an academic discipline, 2008 was a watershed. It shattered the belief held by many economists that rising prosperity and economic stability were the dividends of sound economics. Why did the economic and policy consensus have it so wrong? How can we transform our thinking so that we are equipped to deal with future seismic economic events? How can we translate awareness and knowledge to our lectures and classrooms?
There is an urgency to this challenge. "Secular stagnation," "mediocre growth," and "lost decades" are no longer received with deep skepticism or uttered guardedly with qualifications, but acute realities. The political backlash to rising income and wealth inequality and economic insecurity is no longer a hypothetical scenario. Everyone who wants to live in a peaceful world free of hate and discrimination, without poverty and extreme inequality, and in harmony with our planet is looking for answers. The challenges are complex, so the answers will be complex as well. We do not have the "new economics" under our belt, but there is no excuse for postponing the search for it.
As the incoming Chair, I am proud to state that each member of the Department of Economics at Dalhousie University is a resource in addressing these challenges. We hold a long tradition of academic excellence both inside and outside the classroom. This tradition includes a deep concern for the economically marginalized and deprived. It includes a vision that is not afraid of shedding those ideas that have proven to be misleading at best, and creating the new economics that our societies deserve. It continues to be an exciting place to study, learn, debate, and engage each other.