YEF at North South University
-Finding Equilibrium in Disequilibria
Cover Credit: Oliver Simon Halder
The classroom is claustrophobic. Classrooms cocoon us from the real world by their four walls and a roof. Apparently, grades have been the prime objective of student life. If grades become the only objective, education looses its practical value. Times have changed though. Competition between the ever growing universities has encouraged students to peep outside the classroom. Sometimes these extra-curricular excursions leave predecessors wondering and pondering in awe.
The Young Economists' Forum (YEF) of the Department of Economics, North South University (NSU) was created in 1998. The objective of this academic club was to encourage students to go beyond the confines of the classroom. Going beyond the confines of the classrooms was viewed under two different paths.
The first path was to give students a platform through which they can think about topics on economic theory that were not possible to address in the classroom because of either a time constraint or because the topic went beyond the boundaries of the syllabus. The second path was to give students a platform to discuss contemporary issues related to the economy. YEF seeks to blend these two paths. To make a university academic club attractive to the students, YEF members go for excursions and also participate in social service programmes. To give YEF a wider acceptance initiatives are taken to include students from other universities in YEF initiatives.
The Cross Talk Series: This year's Cross Talk topic was The Stock Market Collapse: When the Bubble Burst. The event was sponsored by Prime Bank. The University of Dhaka, United International University, and North South University participated in the debate. Students of the three universities focused on three separate issues. UIU focused on factors that lead to the stock market crash. NSU focused on existing safeguard measures that failed to prevent the crash. DU focused on potential measures that can be taken to prevent such a crash from happening again in the future.
Photo Credit: ANM Humayun Kabir
Budget Analysis Competition: This year's budget analysis competition comprised 13 universities including NSU. The objective was to engage students to examine and discuss fiscal issues related to the economy of Bangladesh.
The Equilibrium Journal: Extra curricular academic activities of students in the economics departments of Bangladesh almost exclusively concentrate on applied economics that discuss popular topics of the Bangladesh economy. YEF is unique because it publishes Equilibrium- an occasional journal- that gives a platform for students to make contributions on theoretical and empirical aspects of economics. Under the guidance of Ms Saima Khan, Faculty Member and Advisor, Ismail Hossain, Michael Shirsho Das, Nudrat Faria, Sadia Zafreen , Oliver Simon Halder and all others did a wonderful job with the Equilibrium Journal. Starting with an article on microfinance and its impact on Bangladesh including an interview with Dipal Chandra Barua, former Deputy Managing Director of Grameen Bank the journal went on taking key informative interviews with Salehuddin Ahmed, and Md Allah Malik Kazemi former executives of Bangladesh Bank; and Mustafizur Rahman of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD). Professor Mohammed Ali Rashid, Chairman of Economics, NSU gave his views on Bolstering Rural Development through Rural Non Farm Sector where he stressed on 'full government commitment to achieve rural development'.
Photo Credit: ANM Humayun Kabir
Discussion of the economy was only a stepping stone into going outside the confines of conventionalism and the boundaries of the classroom. Contributions from Ahsan Senan & Samiha Khan (Evolution of Economic Systems), Mohammad Mashnun Hossain (Mathematics in Economics), Ahmed Abu Bakr (Assuming the World Away), Adit Khan (Scope of an Economist), Mohammad Kashif Chowdhury (Electronic Tax Collection System), Tahsin Azmain (Stuck in the Sea of Dhaka City Traffic), and Zayeema Sarwar (Happiness: How do we Measure it?) give a satisfying impression that if economics students in Bangladesh are given the opportunity they too can interpret phenomena with economic logic that can be presented in a formal journal.
Equilibrium also received contributions from outside NSU. Economics of Renewable Energy by Syer Tazim Hossain of University of Dhaka; Rural Urban Migration by Bilkis Shehnaz of National University of Singapore; and Does Foreign Aid Foster Growth by Muhammad Shafiullah of Griffith University, Australia further exemplify the potential our young students have in showing they can also think like if not better than their predecessors.
It takes two to dance the Tango. YEF is a breath of fresh air in enabling students to think academically through club activities. Under the guidance and advise of senior faculty members Professors Mohammad Ali Rashid, AKM Atiqur Rahman, Gour Gobinda Goswami and AFM Ataur Rahman, YEF and especially the Equilibrium Journal has the potential for economics students to find equilibrium in a world full of disequilibria.
(The author teaches economic theory at Jahangirnagar University and North South University.)