Reports from the 3rd SASE Ibero-American Socio-Economics Meeting

Most SASE members are aware that preparations are underway for the upcoming SASE annual meeting to be held in Kyoto, Japan on 23-25 June 2018. But it is perhaps less well-known that for several years, regional SASE conferences have been taking place in Latin America. 

SASE sponsored its third biennial Ibero-American regional conference at Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar (UTB) in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia on 16-18 November 2017. The theme this year was Society, Culture and Sustainable Development in Ibero-America. This was a vibrant event with 256 papers presented – and over 300 submitted – with scholars from 16 countries and 130 institutions participating. It was by far the largest of SASE’s Latin American regional meetings to date.

For an overview of the conference, including featured speakers, photos, program, and more, see here. For overviews of all three Ibero-American Socioeconomics meetings held to date, click here). To learn more about what took place and what was discussed, let us now hear from some of the people who made the conference possible.

Emma Greeson

Santos M. Ruesga, Universidad Autónoma de Madrid:

Development has been a central element in the Ibero-American debate concerning relations between economy and society. The concept of development has evolved in spite of the initial confusion between its fundamental goals and the means to achieve it (elements external to people, like income, wealth, or GDP, were conceived of as goals, whereas they are actually means to achieve development). The ultimate goal of development is the quality of life, how people feel about themselves, what they want to be or to do. The search for the good life, as Amartya Sen says, consists in living in a way that includes freedom and reasons to celebrate. It is necessary to be free in order to be able to have a good life. In this sense, the new approaches to development allow us to understand people and society as part of a complex and global system. Hence, as a part of specific contexts, it is necessary to consider the relations among its different components, and its relations with the concepts of quality of life and the well-being of the individual, at an aggregate as well as a local level.

Nonetheless, in spite of theoretical advances and the re-conceptualization of development in its wider form, Ibero-American countries continue to base their model of development on the exploitation of natural resources. This approach generates significant negative externalities on the environment and health, restricting freedom and people’s capabilities. As such, there is a need for change that will allow our societies to adapt productive structures to the theoretical advances that have made it possible to envision a sustainable future. The 3rd SASE-RISE conference provided a space for reflection on economic growth and its relation to human well-being and the environment, as well as for the analysis of its relevance, incidence, and social scope in a sustainable development context.

Martha Zuber, SASE Executive Director:

These regional meetings have been the brainchild of SASE Network M (Spanish Language) organizer Santos Ruesga, an economist from the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid.  The aim of these gatherings has been to afford Latin American researchers unable to attend the annual SASE meetings in Europe or the U.S. the opportunity to meet, present papers, and network. Santos has worked closely with colleagues from Spain along with teams of local scholars to organize the Colombian meeting as well as the previous regional meetings in Mexico City, Mexico and Porto Alegre, Brazil.

As the conference program describes, many Ibero-American countries continue to base their developmental models largely on the exploitation of natural resources. The organizers hoped that this event would provide a space for reflection on the economic growth of Latin American countries and the relation of growth to human well-being. Speaking of well-being, Cartagena de Indias is itself a charming colonial town on the Caribbean where participants would stroll around in the evening breeze after a day of intense concentration – a wonderful work-life balance!

Julimar da Silva Bichara (Local Organizing Committee), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid:

The 3rd SASE-RISE conference represents a significant step in the consolidation of socio-economic studies in Ibero-America. The number of participants has grown steadily since the first conference at UNAM in Mexico City. The latest meeting called attention to the effects of globalization on development and the importance of the management and equitable distribution of the outcomes of globalization, not only from a monetary perspective, but from fundamentally social, human, and cultural angles as well. It also saw the advent of an absolutely local Peace, Post-Conflict, and Democracy network, showing the capacity of the SASE-RISE meetings to actively participate in the academic and political issues particular to its conference sites.

Daniel Toro González, Dean and Professor of Economics and Business, Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar:

It is part of our strategic plan at the Universidad Tecnológica de Bolívar (UTB) School of Economics and Business to build more connections with international institutions and peers around the world. We are well aware of the important role that collaborative networks play in generating knowledge oriented to aid the region’s development. While the 3rd SASE-RISE conference represented an important financial and administrative effort on the part of the UTB, and the event was an extraordinary opportunity to grow our network and to increase the likelihood of both research and teaching collaborations. The theme Society, Culture, and Sustainable Development in Ibero-America set the perfect stage to discuss the region’s main challenges and the work conducted by researchers in multiple universities around the world that addresses these issues. We strongly encourage academics from all over the world to join SASE and to attend the next Ibero-American meeting!


This article is taken from
SASE Winter Newsletter 17/18
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