Message from the Dean of the Faculty of Economics Head of the Graduate School of Economics
Nabil El Maghrebi
This year, the Faculty of Economics, with its long tradition of nurturing business leaders, top managers and economic specialists in various sectors of the economy, marks 70 years of achievements in education and research, and continues its passionate commitment to higher learning. Its history stretches back for nearly a century, starting with the foundation in 1922 of The Wakayama School of Commerce, which developed later into The Faculty of Economics, a founding member of Wakayama University, a national university corporation. The Faculty of Economics takes pride in its long tradition and significant achievements, but it is imperative to recognize also the immense challenges ahead and avoid complacency.
There is indeed, increasing uncertainty about the future of jobs, and thus about the future of education as well. Technological advances, closer integration and interdependence, as well as shifts in economic and demographic powers are redefining social lifestyles, quality of life, and the nature of economic activities. Traditional routine jobs may be fading away under the influence of automation and artificial intelligence, but new opportunities are presented for job-seekers with the required abilities, including critical thinking and creative problem-solving, as well as excellent analytical and communication skills. Thus, the principal objective of our educational and research programs is to nurture decision-makers and business leaders capable of coping with the changing economic dynamics, and shape a better future for humanity.
In order to thrive and prosper locally in the global economy, it is crucial to understand the nature of new risks and opportunities. It is new intellectual insights that contribute toward a better understanding of these complex dynamics, in which businesses and government institutions interact. As research extends the horizons of knowledge, it also enriches the learning environment for students. Thus in many ways, research defines the future of education. The Faculty of Economics is committed to the promotion of individual and joint research activities with free and independent scholarship, which is a necessary condition for any institution of higher learning to successfully navigate change and remain relevant in the shifting educational landscape.
Sound quantitative and qualitative research is essential to comprehend the nature of decisions, patterns of behaviour, and reactions of economic agents to changes in their environment. But as no science can be entirely dissociated from ethics, there is a need for research to focus also on moral and ethical propositions. Adam Smith argues in The Theory of Moral Sentiment that however selfish a man may be supposed, there are principles in his nature that make him interested in the fortune of others, and render their happiness necessary to him. There are indeed no worldly benefits derived from the pleasure of seeing others happy. Thus, the ethical choices are important because they depend, to some extent, on the common values of the society, and it is not possible for economics to abstract from sympathy, selfishness, benevolence, and malevolence.
Hence, it is difficult to reduce economics to the study of the behaviour of economic agents based on the assumptions of self-interest, scarcity, consumer sovereignty, and unlimited wants. Arguably, there are no canonical rules in economics, and it is difficult to prove the falsehood of economic ideas through replication of scientific experiments. The discipline lends itself however to strong criticism, including concerns about the usefulness of mechanical models of the business cycle along the lines of celestial mechanics. Strong reproach is further directed to economists for the inability to predict financial crises, prevent economic recessions, or provide sound policy remedies to growing income inequality. Economics is, undeniably, an integral part of social sciences studying the sociosphere, and the focus should be perhaps made on the spatial and temporal distribution of exchange relations. As these economic activities are intrinsically related to all social and human conditions, economics should focus on how it can benefit people’s lives in order to remain relevant.
Thus, a paradigm shift is needed in order to revisit the essence of economics and its relevance to society and the whole humanity. The stronger foundations of economics in moral philosophy should be revisited in order to provide a human dimension to public policies and business strategies. Arguably, the teaching of economics and business management should not lead students to become amoral, selfish and disinterested in the common good. The ultimate aim of our educational programs in the Faculty of Economics and research programs at the Graduate School of Economics is to promote moral and rational behaviour, honesty, respect, and trust, which is the lubricant of the economy. It is incumbent upon all of us to increase awareness about the importance of education and research, and instil a spirit of adherence to social norms that promote economic fairness, business enterprise, equity, and risk sharing. These are, in turn, conducive to sustainable economic development, shared prosperity, and peace for all humanity.
We are looking forward to all interested parties, students, researchers, and active members of the society, to join this long-term learning enterprise aimed at shaping a better future for humanity.
Nabil El Maghrebi