1. Subject and type of the internship
Green Economics Institute intends to develop a new discipline in economics that is based on an objective assessment of the problems, options and solutions available to society to deal with the challenges of ever more rapidly changing complex, fragile, vulnerable, physical and social environments (GEI, 2007). GEI provides wide range of services and research that aims at bringing together campaigners, politicians, economists and other academics in order to reform mainstream economics. The Institute promotes progressive and innovative approach to current environmental and social problems and strongly believes that one way to achieve this goal is to involve in their work young, open-minded students and academics that are determined to make a change.
GEI has developed an Internship Scheme that not only gives young people the opportunity to work in a real-world working situation and become familiar with the organisation and the working situation but most of all expects the intern to put academic knowledge acquired at the university into practise. Each trainee has developed his/herself own trainee programme that suits their interests, skills and experience.
The internship consisted of comprehensive environmental, social research from green economics perspective with particular focus on climate change. The wide range of activities undertaken during the internship has taken a period of four months (from 1st September till 30 rd December, 2007) with the intensity of approximately 40 hours per week. The internship was primarily based in Oxford, UK but due to the fact that The Green Economics Institute is a very large green network, the work involved travelling within the UK and EU.
1.1. The Green Economics Institute
In its work, the Institute critically discusses Green Economics alternatives and suggestions. The Green Economics Institute argues for economic development based on economic access and decision making for all, including respect for cultural diversity and normative freedom. It does this by bringing together all the interested parties who want to help in developing this progressive discipline by inviting them to its events, and conferences, and by means of such activities as writing books and publications and its research, its campaigns and its lobbying (GEI, 2007).
The activities of the Institute are built around its four main pillars, which are:
Political - power issues, parliaments, democracy, legislation, campaigning
Intellectual -changes to economics discipline
The Green Economics Institute researches and supports research into Green Economics issues, perspectives, methods, tools and instruments in order to change the way we do things so that more people enjoy a better quality of life, while narrowing the gaps in quality of life and to changing the culture of consumerism to a one in which economics serves more people's needs. The wide range of services that results from that involves:
Innovative courses and training on new methods for and the development of, the discipline of economics Regular Green Economics Conferences
Publishing a peer-reviewed academic journal The International Journal of Green Economics as well as conference proceedings, trade books and magazine The Green Economist
Green Economics opposes to neoclassical approach in economics as it reclaims economics from being purely quantitative measurement and the assumptions of a "homo economicus" perspective. It aims to establish a multi-disciplinary economics which is informed by qualitative and quantitative data from natural and earth sciences. This stands in sharp contrast to the reductionist and overly quantitative mathematics and assumptions on which conventional mainstream research is based (Heinemann, 2007).
Green Economics tries as an alternative to incorporate a wider set of potential behaviour and allows for systems and institutions to be designed so that this degree of freedom is maintained and rather than a particular set of rules accepted as unavoidable. Freedom, optimal, growth and justice are all terms that have a surprisingly intentional use in conventional economics. It should be emphasised that Green Economics is as a consequence not only developing an alternative view to economic issues that might or might not be normatively desired depending on the viewpoint (Heinemann, 2007). The research that the green economics tries to develop is focused on finding the the tools and methods that are required to overcome current economic problems in society. Conventional economics evolved in the nineteenth century in a different set of circumstances, when the needs and problems within the society were different. Thus, it is unable to solve the problems of today. ‘Green Economics is truly the future of economics not just a niche addition to the discourse' (Heinemann, 2007).
Main features of Green Economics (GEI, 2007)
Attitude to nature-today we are looking at biodiversity;
Attitude to science -green economics uses data from natural science to explain the economics of climate change;
Ethic or moral values explicit-in mainstream economics their existence is denied or a given;
Alleviation and prevention of poverty is important aim;
Social and environmental justice at core;
2. Internship objective
2.1. General aim of practical training
The main objective of the internship was to gain up-to-date, practical experience in the real-working situation, in contrast to information gained during studies concerning mainly theoretical background of environmental sciences and economics and environmental policy. The internship as a part of my post graduate studies aimed at examining environmental problems and creating solutions away from traditional lecture-based learning but through practical application of theoretical concepts is a must before getting a MSc diploma. As I wished to broaden my knowledge in the field of innovative approaches to economics, climate change and other environmental and social problems of the today's world, GEI has been chosen to realize these goals. The internship at the Institute created an opportunity to expand my knowledge and professional experience in developing environmental campaigns, implementing sustainable solutions, such as integrating and implementing sustainability within organizations, preparation of sustainability reports or linking sustainability assessments with strategies and policies.
2.2 Educational aims
The following section presents particular educational aims and objectives expected to be gained in result of the practical training realised at The Green Economics Institute.
Introduction to the working practice. To know functioning and structuring of a non-for-profit company/institute, its administration and organization (meetings, division of tasks, discussions etc.)
Orientation on a non-for-profit company/institute. To know the role of the company in field of the social and environmental activities and services; what it offers to society, academics, business, governments and other institutions; how it is supplied, etc. Occupational orientation. To know what kind of tasks are offered and occupations can be developed in the field of four pillars of the GEI
To broaden my knowledge on the field of green economics, social and environmental research, campaigning and policy making, learn more about up-to-date and innovative solutions in these areas
To learn about the most important and common problems of economics, environment and society within the UK and globally To learn more about negotiation techniques and handling with other institutions (business, government, etc.)
To learn what other institutions of the field have to offer
To learn working in a group of people having different working experience, background, level of knowledge about the field,
To acquire skills in making independent decisions and judgement in the real-working situation; taking responsibility for own decisions being made,
To improve the communication skills, ability to exchange information
To improve and develop management and organisational skills
To become more confident, assertive and experienced when dealing with co-workers, as well as Institute's associates and customers
To gain skill in providing solution/advice to the associates, customers etc. in the field of work
To develop more critical thinking and assessment skills as well as in finding innovative solution to existing problems
To specify and define area of my particular interest and a field I wish work in
To be able to choose the future type of occupation and system of work that best fits for me
It is essential to stress that as GEI is formally an institute, undertaking academic research; the internship was also aimed at gaining some new academic knowledge. GEI offers very innovative and progressive, sometimes even considered as very radical approach to economics. Thus I excpeted to gain not only up-to-date, practical experience in the real-working situation but also learn of and expand my knowledge in new/innovative approaches in economics that are often not yet introduced at MSc cources.
3. Research questions
According to the general objective and educational aims formulated above, research question typical for a scientific research are not applicable. The internship alllowed for a wide range of research study, however there are several questions that were formulated and aimed to be answered during the practical training period. Those include:
Questions regarding green economics
a)What is green economics?
b)What are the most urgent and important problems of today's world regarding:
c)How does green economics aims to improve the quality of life and environment?
d)What are the progressive and innovative solutions that green economics has to offer to deal with those problems?
e)How does green economics differ from mainstream economics?
f)How does green economics differ from environmental and green economics?
Questions regarding The Green Economics Institute
a)What are the tools does the GEI apply to solve the problems of today's world?
b)What are the tools and mechanisms that the GEI uses to reform conventional economics?
c)What is the approach of the Institute towards other institutions and organisations (governments, academics, business, civil society)?
d)What is the impact of the Institute's work on other institutions and organisations (governments, academics, business, civil society)?
e)How is the global network created by the GEI organised, structured and how does it function?
4. Prior knowledge
The practical training at the Green Economics Institute required prior knowledge in the field of both Environmental Sciences and Economics (classical, neoclassical, environmental and ecological) as well as some background in sociology, policy-making and politics. All these have been acquired during my academic education at the Wageningen University and Research in the Netherlands and at Warsaw University in Poland where I soon graduate at the Interfaculty Study of Environmental Protection. The interdisciplinary approach of both Master programmes gave me a broad understanding of arising environmental problems through disciplines ranging from natural sciences to economics, law, management and other areas connected to environmental protection as well as many other fields.
Additionally, several trainee programmes I have already participated in (e.g. WWF, EcoFund, Warsaw University Centre for Environmental Protection) have given me an equally valuable knowledge of environmental policy, strategy and management that was essential for my internship at the Green Economics Institute.
The Green Economics Institute has been chosen as a placement for my practical training out of a few other options due to several reasons. The Green Economics Institute provides broad areas of services, especially in the field of comprehensive environmental and sustainability research. More importantly, the Institute works in the very innovative and progressive filed of economics that is so far established by a very few institutions worldwide. As I aimed to broaden my knowledge in the area of economics and green/environmental issues, and find out more about practical solutions to solve today's, the GEI seemed to be a perfect fit.
The Institute offered an Internship Scheme that gives an opportunity to work in a real-world working situation and become familiar with the organisation and the working situation but most of all expects the intern to put academic knowledge acquired at the university into practise. The scheme indicated that I was to developed my individual trainee programme that suits their interests, skills and experience. The Directors of the Institute ensured me that I will be involved in all of the activities undertaken by the GEI as well as I will be motivated to realise my own projects and ideas.
6. Internship activities
6.1 Nature of activities
As it was mentioned above the Green Economics Institute aims to develop a new discipline in economics that is based on an objective assessment of the problems, options and solutions available to social and natural environments. The GEI argues for economic development based on economic access and decision making for all, including respect for cultural and natural diversity. It does this by bringing together all the interested parties who want to help in developing this progressive discipline by inviting them to its events, and conferences, and by means of such activities as writing books and publications and its research, its campaigns and its lobbying (GEI, 2007). Sucha a wide range of topics and services covered by the Institute has been translated in considerably broad range of activities and tasks undertaken during my internship. The activities could be split into three mian categories:
Academically oriented work
writing short academic papers
reviewing for the International Journal of Green Economics;
reviewing book proposals;
writing sustainability reports;
writing conference debriefings and reports
; participation in compiling environmental and social policy paper for the European Greens;
Management oriented work
organizing events e.g. Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University (see
assisting in running the GEI campaigns;
networking with associated institutions;
management and coordination of publishing work related to the institute;
preparing publishing strategies and publishing business models;
Administration oriented work
internal and external communication
preparing various reports and application (e.g. Application for The Green Gown Awards)
6.2 Division of internship phases
Meeting the working team, getting familiar with the division of work between the group and my own responsibilities
Getting familiar with the general rules in the Institute
Getting familiar with issues of green economics the Institute deals with together with the other company members and by literature reviewing
Dealing with the administrative issues with the help of other team members
Preparing sample journal reviews
Initial preparation for the Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University (bookings, inviting speakers, outlining programme of the training) II. October
Participation in the Frankfurt Book Fair and getting familiar with the publishing work within and outside the Institute
Participation in The European Greens Meeting in Vienna (attending workshops, preparing policy statements, networking etc)
Organising quarterly meetings of the GEI members
Reviewing for the International Journal of Green Economics
Organising the Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University (administration, management, preparing my individual paper, compiling training pack etc.)
6.2 Division of internship phases (cont.)
Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University (conducting the training, writing report to the funder, follow up arrangements)
Attending several conferences related to environmental and social issues (e.g. Stern Review Conference -see appendix 3) Arranging publishing work - creating business plans, reviewing proposals, placing authors etc
. IV. December
Continuation of publishing work - arrangements towards setting up an independent GEI Publishing House
Attending several conferences related to environmental and social issues
Initial Preparation to the ‘Basic Income Conference and Social Economics and Poverty Conference'
Initial arrangements towards extending my work for the GEI beyond initial internship period
6.3. Example of project developed at the GEI - Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University
Several projects and activities that were subject of my internship has already been listed above. In this section I would like to present the most significant project being done in the period of my practical training at the Institute.
The Participatory Training Course in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics was a project organised by Green Economics Institute in association with the Higher Education Academy and Mansfield College, Oxford University and was designed to provide knowledge on green issues, on economics and on Green Economics. It discussed the position of Green Economics in relation to other environmental economics schools of thought. In particular it focuses on how to achieve the complex mix between social and environmental justice and combining this with new definitions of growth, abundance, and it reworks the theory, methodology and philosophy of economics as well as using new measurements of the success of an economy. The training we have designed was aimed at broadening the awareness of participants on different economics approaches to problems and issues of social, environmental and distributive justice. The course also catered for those wishing use that knowledge for other teaching, campaigning or policy pursuits or in the development of greening of businesses. The training was devised in two parts - the first one, introductory - for beginners in economics and the second one for more experienced people who had some formal qualifications in economics.
Some of the topics covered:
Green Economics Principles
Lower Growth Economies
The Economics Growth Debate
Green Economics and the regulation of greenhouse gasses
Valuing biodiversity - A challenge for Green Economics
Aviation and Supply Chain Management
interactive group exercises
collaborative group learning
multidisciplinary and multisensory teaching and learning workshops
From the description given above its is easy to deduct that designing, developing and running such a workshop has been a very complex, work and time consuming process. This has been the most significant project I was assigned to during my internship. As I was responsible for the overall management of the course, my tasks ranged from handling the booking process (communication with the prospective participants), searching for adequate and well qualified speakers and trainers, compiling training materials into a training pack (both written by speakers and myself), conducting my own workshop and managing the others as well as submitting a final report to the funder (higher Education Academy)
. I am pleased to say that the training has been a great success. Together with the rest of the GEI team we have managed to involve high class specialists from biodiversity and social science, such as several economics specialists currently exploring lower growth economics from a variety of different perspectives, institutional and non-institutional settings e.g. from Oxford University, University of Wisconsin, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and IUCN in order to use the best research and methodology from these areas. As a result the course was very well received by all participants, but also speakers and the funder who is currently keen on performing some follow up trainings with the Green Economics Institute. Moreover, we are considering running a similar workshop in Poland, where green economics issued are not yet well known and developed.
7. Follow up work with the GEI
As has been just noted above upon completion of my practical training I will still keep involved in the work of the Green Economics Institute. In addition to the training course that the GEI wishes to run in Poland, the launch in Poland in also being considered. This is a long time project that will take a lot of work to developed, however we believe that there is a high demand for the services that the GEI is providing. Poland is still way behind forerunners in green economics and other green issues, however the society shows a need for some form institutions that would provide some more knowledge in this field as well as run campaign and work on progressive policy making to tackle today's problems of Poland.
8. Discussion and conclusions
The experience of particularly important to me that I have gained during this practical training are critical thinking and assessment skills. This allowed me to broaden my knowledge and understanding in the area of green economics, social and environmental research, campaigning and policy making, as well as in finding innovative solution to existing problems. Moreover I have learned about the most important and common problems of economics, environment and society within the UK and globally. Those include not only climate change that is currently very high on the agenda but also lack of social and environmental justice, unsustainable supply chain and procurement, lack of corporate responsibility and unsustainable business, consumerism, decreasing quality of life, poverty, trafficking, decreasing biodiversity etc. I have acknowledged what are the solutions to this problems offered by green economics the GEI. There is a necessity to define economics in a goal based way, that incorporates facts, knowledge and complex interactions and is not relying on irrelevant assumptions. Economic development must be based on economic access and participatory decision making including respect for cultural diversity and normative freedom of humans and biosphere. The Green Economics Institute tries to achieve those goals by this by bringing together all the interested parties. There is no main focus, the approach of the GEI and green economics is to underpin the role of all - governments, academics, business, civil society and involve them all in improving the quality of life and environment. This is way the Institute aims to expand its network and enhance interactions between all the links.
Regarding the other ‘research' questions that I have formulated in the first part of this report, such as ‘How does green economics differ from mainstream economics?' or ‘How does green economics differ from environmental and green economics?'
. The practical training at the Institute, has finally helped me define the areas of my particular interest and a field I wish to work in. I found green economics as a very interesting and intriguing concept and wish to explore it more in the study and professional work.
Green Economics Institute (2007), Participatory Training - Workshop in Principles and Concepts of Green Economics at Oxford University. Training Pack Reading: Green Economics Institute
Kennet M., Heinemann V.(2006) ‘Green Economics: setting the scene. Aims, context, and philosophical underpinning of the distinctive new solutions offered by Green Economics', International Journal of Green Economics, Vol. 1, No.1/2 pp. 68 - 102
Volker Heinemann, (2007) ‘What is Green Economics?' The Green Economist, Vol., No.2, Autumn 2007, Green Economics Institute
Green Economics Institute www.greeneconomics.org.uk
International Journal of Green Economics www.inderscience.com/ijge
Appendix 1. Example of an article written for the Green Economist, The Green Economist Vol 2 Issue no 2 - Autumn 2007, Copyright © Green Economics Institute, November 2007
Posted by Miriam KennetJune 2008 - written by Bogusia Igielksa 2008