Building local influence in a global economy

25 Sep 2012     Last updated: 20 Jun 2014

The Centre for Economic Empowerment (CEE) held the first of its second series of masterclasses on Friday 21 September 2012. The event examined civil society’s role in influencing the global economy.

The masterclass was addressed by Jan Aart Scholte, Professor in Political and International Studies in the Centre for the Study of Globalisation and Regionalisation at the University of Warwick and Jim Metcalf, Carnegie UK Trust Practice and Development Manager.

Significant influence

Commenting on the Masterclass, Peter Hutchinson, CEE Co-ordinator said:

“We are all confronted with globalisation and the global economy - the way we shop, communicate and work has been influenced by global practices and rules. The financial crisis brought into sharp focus, with some devastating outcomes, just how interconnected our financial system and regional economies really are and how powerless many people feel.

"Equally the Northern Ireland Executive’s Economic Strategy is seeking to make Northern Ireland a more outward looking economy with growing exports and increased Foreign Direct Investment – so it is clear that the global economy has a significant influence on the prospects of local people and this is likely to increase in the future.

"However, the rules and practices that govern the global economy are very complex and seemingly made in faraway unaccountable places, removed from our everyday lives. So the purpose of this masterclass was to explore how we might increase the voluntary and community sector’s understanding of the issues; and how we might build networks across the UK, Ireland and beyond in order to try and increase any potential impact.

"We were lucky to be joined by two excellent speakers in Professor Jan Aart Scholte, who is a world authority on global governance, and Jim Metcalf, who has been carrying out some practically orientated research into this area for the Carnegie UK Trust”.

Professor Jan Aart Scholte examined how globalisation affects Northern Ireland’s economy; who governs the global economy and what civil society can do to affect change.

Jim Metcalf outlined the findings of the Carnegie UK Trust’s research project– Global Rule Local Rulers – which examines the practical steps that voluntary and community groups might take in order to better engage with and influence current economic policies and practices.

This was followed by an open discussion which further explored the global dimension to local economic issues and what we might do.

Rare, welcome and beneficial

Speaking about the masterclass Jim Metcalf said:

The CEE and NICVA, with the masterclass series, are fostering serious and inclusive debate about some of the toughest economic questions around. That’s very rare, very welcome, and very beneficial to both speakers and participants. I took more away from the discussion than I think I brought to it – that’s the sign of a truly exciting discussion, even on a very complex theme.”

Building understanding

The CEE will be examining the need to build understanding of the issues across the voluntary and community sector; to develop relationships and networks which might help us be involved in wider movements and the need for this process to take place in a critical and self-reflective space.

The CEE’s first step will be to produce a briefing paper based on the masterclass which will hopefully generate discussion locally.

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