If you think economics is for the experts, you may change your mind when you listen to Gregory C. Dahl discuss the topic in his recent Web Talk “Economic Life: Reflection on the Universal House of Justice Message of March 1, 2017.” One of his listeners, Karen Dingwell, had this to say about the talk: “My deep appreciation to the Institute Committee for providing such deepening opportunities. I began to take notes but was not quick enough. Does Mr. Dahl share his slide with those who request it or perhaps sends a transcript of his presentation, upon request?”
The answer to the first question is, yes, a recording of the talk and the slides are available on the Wilmette Institute’s web page. As for the second question: Mr. Dahl has made available a link on his website to his article on the topic, “New Directions for Economics,” that will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Journal of Bahá’í Studies. His summary of the forthcoming article is pretty much a summary of his Web Talk:
Recent developments in both the Bahá’í community and the field of economics have opened up new vistas in the application of Bahá’í principles to economic questions, both in theory and in practice. The Bahá’í community has grown enough that the Universal House of Justice, in its 1 March 2017 message, has called on Bahá’ís to concern themselves increasingly with the inequalities in the world and to bring their personal lives and the actions of their Bahá’í communities more in line with the high moral standards and principles of compassion and service in the teachings of their Faith. At the same time, the economics profession is more open to new directions of thought and research following the financial crisis of 2007–08 and the subsequent global recession, which exposed the shortcomings of the macroeconomic models that the profession had spent the previous several decades constructing. Some of the fields that appear most fertile for the application of Bahá’í principles to current economic problems are reviewed in this article.
Greg divided his Web Talk into three parts:
- Some key concepts (mental frameworks or habits of thought, systems versus processes, and knowledge and learning).
- Some key concepts (Bahá’í context—Bahá’í teachings on economics and social action and learning about growth).
- The major letter from the Universal House of Justice, dated March 1, 2017.
Throughout his talk, Greg discussed many quotations from the Bahá’í writings (his PowerPoint made them quite accessible) and occasionally made reference to writers in the field of economics. The question-and-answer session after the talk was quite spirited and covered many aspects of economics. If you haven’t yet read the March 1, 2017, letter or if you didn’t know quite what to make of it, Greg’s Web Talk will open the door to an increased understanding of a new phase of development in Bahá’í communities.
Or the Web Talk may make you want to sign up for a new Wilmette Institute course called Economics and Community Building. It starts on June 20. See the descriptions of the course in this issue of the Wilmette Institute’s eNewsletter.