The University of Chicago 2008 Conference on China’s Economic Transformation is, in my opinion, one of the most important economics conference on China’s economic transformation ever. [K: I thought of simply saying “the most important” and skip the wishy-washy “one of“. (smile)]
Before I add my 2 cents on things, I like to include an excerpt from the official program to give you some idea about the conference (emphasis and links added).
Time: July 14-18, 2008
Place: University of Chicago Business School Downtown Gleacher Center
Format: This 5-day conference has two parts. During the first three days, the conference is organized by thematic panels. Panelists will each have 20 minutes for paper presentation, and each panel will have two discussants, who will each have 15 minutes to comment on all the papers. Each panel will be ended with a two-hour or so open discussion. To facilitate open discussion, papers and commentaries will be circulated to all conference participants at least one month before the conference. Papers will be sent to discussants at least two months before the conference.
The last two days of the conference are organized differently. Chinese entrepreneurs, and government officials will speak about China’s economic transformation from their personal experiences. Their presentations, which, if necessary, will be translated into English simultaneously, are expected to be shorter. As agents of change behind China’s economic transformation, these entrepreneurs and government officials will be able to provide inside information and share their personal struggles and insights, which are not easily (if at all) available to academic researchers.
In addition, a group of American academics specializing in the Chinese economy will be invited to the conference.
I am not making the “most important conference” claim simply because there is a long list of China experts attending, including at least four Nobel prize winners (chair and conf. organizer Ronald Coase (1991), discussant Robert Fogel (1993), panel chair & discussant Douglass North (1993), panel chair & discussant Robert Mundell (1999)).
And I am not making the “most important conference” claim simply because Steven N. S. Cheung is going to deliver the in-depth keynote address “The Economic System of China“. (I am a big fan of Cheung’s ideas and have written frequently about them.)
I think the Chicago conference is going to be the most important economics conference on China’s economic transformation ever because,
- “Each panel will be ended with a two-hour or so open discussion. ” With the high caliber discussants and participants all so well prepared, I expect some of the most insightful exchanges and possibly (and hopefully) some heated discussions.
- “Chinese entrepreneurs, and government officials will speak about China’s economic transformation from their personal experiences.” With Cheung’s deep insight in China, I assume he plays a key role in inviting and selecting these Chinese entrepreneurs and government officials to present at Chicago. To me, I don’t think it is an exaggeration in calling it ground breaking in having the great opportunities to hear some “inside information and [listen to them] share their personal struggles and insights, which are not easily (if at all) available to academic researchers“.
If I may, I would like to single out Prof. Coase (at 97 years young) and Prof. Cheung (at 73 years young) for organizing and making this conference possible.
To me, a non-economist, I see the conference program as a guide to the who’s who of researchers and insightful people who have deep understanding of the Chinese economics. And I am also using the program as a guide to identify some of the important issues and challenges. In some senses, these researchers, entrepreneurs, attendees have now been put on my radar screen and I know they will be good starting points to understand China’s Economic Transformation.
Finally, I hope the University of Chicago and Coase Foundation conference organizers will make all of the conference proceedings (including the videos of the presentations and discussions, the presented papers, etc.) available online for free.
In the age of the free MIT Open Courseware initiative , the 200+ higher education institutions strong Open Courseware consortium, and free Google Tech Talks, I hope the University of Chicago will do the right thing and share with the community at large.