"I think much mainstream thinking loses sight of alternatives. And this is what is brought by political and philosophical questioning – a demand to think critically, to work out for ourselves what we want to study, a provocation against stultification!"
Dr. Amanda Machin talks about the Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree, climate change politics and typical UW/H students
Why should young people start a degree at the faculty of economics and society? Why are the faculty’s areas of focus important from your point of view?
The current crazy state of the world shows us why it is important to study and to equip ourselves with the knowledges and capacities to change the way we live and the way we think. The faculty draws together an array of different disciplinary approaches – there are some common themes that we focus on, but some very different ways of researching those themes. One focus of the faculty is climate change, but from my perspective, this is a ‘wicked issue’ that can’t be understood or tackled in one way. This is precisely why it is important to engage with different approaches. You shouldn’t come here if you want to study ten different versions of the same theory or methodology. You should come here if you want to get a good overview of some different scientific perspectives and how they might be applied to various social challenges.
As a professor, you teach students from the BA and MA Philosophy, Politics and Economics degree. In your opinion, why is it important to consider political and philosophical questions
when studying economics?
The political philosopher Jacques Rancière wrote “Whoever teaches without emancipating stultifies” He was challenging the idea that knowledge could simply be transferred and he believed in the importance of allowing students to learn how to think and empower themselves. I think much mainstream thinking, and not just economic, loses sight of alternatives. And this is what is brought by political and philosophical questioning – a demand to think critically, to work out for ourselves what and how we want to study, a provocation against stultification!
How did you arrive to be a professor at your current department? Are there any topics, which you find particularly interesting or topics that are close to your heart?
That is a long story. To keep it short, I joined the faculty because of my work on climate change politics - I’ve been working on this theme for nearly ten years now. I approach this issue from the perspective of radical democracy so I am fascinated by the climate strikes we’ve witnessed recently, I’m planning to develop some projects analyzing contemporary climate movements and I’ve got several students writing their theses in this area too.
What are you doing, if you are not teaching or researching?
I don’t get much time off! Students sometimes don’t realize that when we are not teaching, in the semester breaks, professors are working on their own research projects. Which is fine because I love my job. But I also love running - I have run the London marathon three times, and I ran the New York marathon back in November 2001, shortly after the September 11 bombings on the World Trade Centre, which was an incredibly moving experience.
What is the typical UW/H student like? What kind of student should apply for a degree at
the faculty of economics and society?
I really don’t think there is a “typical” UW/H student, at least not from the ones I meet. They come from such different backgrounds and various parts of the world. This means that the students are very open to new ideas. They are very welcoming, very friendly, and very keen to change the world! If you want to challenge yourself, then you will be very happy here.
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