A major international interdisciplinary programme being co-ordinated by the University of Leeds is examining financial systems and the effect financialisation has had on economies, societies and the environment across Europe and beyond.
The ten million euro programme, entitled Financialisation, Economy, Society and Sustainable Development (FESSUD: www.fessud.eu) is largely funded by the European Commission and is made up of twelve projects which will examine a diverse range of research areas, such as the causes and consequences of the financial crisis, the relationship between financial issues and wellbeing, and finance as it relates to the environment. The programme began in December 2011 and will run for five years.
One of the interesting facets of this programme has been dealing with such a large interdisciplinary team across 15 countries. Different research teams are made up of different disciplines and include economists at the core, joined by geographers, sociologists, environment specialists and legal experts to provide a holistic perspective on the research projects they’re involved in.
“Here at Leeds we have a long history of developing open and interdisciplinary economics,” says Dr Andrew Brown who is part of the team at Leeds. “Whilst the programme as a whole has economists at its heart, it’s right that we include perspectives from different disciplines, otherwise we’d be working in a vacuum.”
The programme has an ethos of pluralism and has developed a culture of openness, welcoming the different perspectives different partners, from different disciplines and nations bring. Each of the research teams involved will include at least one, if not more, colleagues from outside economics.
The first part of the programme, which provides the foundation for the whole programme, has been examining the evolution of financial systems across 15 countries over a 30 year period. Led by the University of Leeds, the outcomes of this project will provide a baseline understanding for the other research teams as they embark on the examination of other areas.
As a whole, the programme will provide both practical and methodological outcomes. Dr Brown explains: “We want to make sure that the research projects in the programme all have practical outcomes, mainly in the area of policy, ensuring we’re looking at what governments and other organisations are proposing and applying the knowledge gained through our research to aid this process,” he says. A project based around the dissemination of research to policy makers and key stakeholders, such as financial institutions and other organisations focused on finance will support these aims.
In terms of methodological, or more abstract outcomes, there’s a sustained focus on ensuring that different disciplines can work together harmoniously and appreciate the different knowledge and perspective each discipline will bring to an issue.
University of Leeds academics involved in the programme are:
Malcolm Sawyer (lead), Andrew Brown, Giuseppe Fontana, Andrew Gouldson and David Spencer]]>