Economics Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen will discuss the field of welfare economics tonight at 8 p.m. in Campbell Hall.
Sen is the Thomas W. Lamont University Professor and an economics and philosophy professor at Harvard University, and was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Most Influential People” of 2010. He received over 90 honorary degrees for his work in the field of humanitarian-minded economics and has authored over 20 books, including Development as Freedom, On Economic Inequality and The Idea of Justice.
According to assistant economics professor Javier Birchenall, Sen’s departure from traditional economic policy ideas has been pivotal to the field’s growth.
“He has broadened the scope of economics in order to give a more social view,” Birchenall said. “His major contribution has been measuring economics beyond just pure economic outcomes. He pushes for access [to wealth] rather than just outcomes.”
Economics professor Peter Rupert said Sen’s work on unequal food distribution has revolutionized trade and industry practices.
“He won the Nobel Prize for a reason,” Rupert said. “Now there’s thinking about what food security means and how that’s one of the bigger parts for developing countries.”
According to Birchenall, Sen’s research directly links lack of food security to poor economic conditions in developing countries and advocates for the modernization of resource distribution as a solution.
“He’s well-known for his analysis of famines,” Birchenall said. “The view that people had about famines was that there was just not enough food. What he shows is that there is virtually no change in the food supply, but the real problem is that a lot of people just could not access the food.”
Birchenall said the professor’s studies in welfare economics sparked integral change within the international community.
“The World Bank has a much wider view of poverty because of Sen,” Birchenall said. “It has impacted policy.”
Third-year global studies major Manda LaPorte said she is optimistic that Sen’s lecture will familiarize the audience with fresh perspectives on pressing world issues.
“I would hope that he inspires people to see his side as a beneficiary to poor countries,” LaPorte said.