Entry Alphabet Job Country






Neva Goodwin

in Public Administration

from Harvard's  Kennedy School;
Ph.D, in Economics Boston University;

Co-Director of
Global Development
And Environment Institute


supervised the  project,
Frontier Issues in Economic Thought,

editing series,

Evolving Values for a Capitalist World.



Survey of Ecological economics
edited - with Jonathan Harris and Rajaram Krishnan


Lead author of an introductory, college level micro-economics textbook,

"Microeconomics in Context."

It was published by Houghton Mifflin,
and was also published in Vietnamese and Russian,
in a transition economies version, by universities in those countries.


In Neva's own words:
I do want to emphasize that the textbook has four authors.  Julie Nelson is an especially noted feminist economist.  She and Frank Ackerman are both at the Global Development And Environment Institute with me.  The fourth author is Tom Weisskopf, who is at University of Michigan, and has played an especially active role in the Russian edition of the textbook.  (The Transitional Economy edition came out in Russian and Vietnamese, and was then extensively revised create the present, US edition.)"

Neva Goodwin's "goal is to provide humane, ecologically sensitive alternatives to the narrow and increasingly irrelevant economics teaching materials to which too many students are now exposed."


From the GRIST:

Neva Say Neva

Neva Goodwin, ecological economist, answers Grist's questions

16 May 2005
 Grill an activist! Neva Goodwin, an ecological economist at Tufts University, answered our questions, below; later this week, she'll answer yours. Hit her with the best you got. Send in your burningest questions by noon PDT on Wednesday, May 18, 2005. We'll publish selected questions and responses on Friday, May 20.

question What work do you do?


answer I'm an economist, and codirector of the  Global Development And Environment Institute
at Tufts University.

question How does it relate to the environment?

answer My overall goal is to affect what people are taught when they take economics courses, and to change the kind of economics that's subsequently in people's heads when they make policy, or vote as citizens. The kind of economics that I hope people will be learning and using 20 years from now -- even 10, or five, years from now -- will support a much more realistic understanding of the dependence we humans have on a healthy environment, and of the ways that our economic activities affect both the social and the physical environment, for better or for worse (today it's usually for worse, but it doesn't have to be that way).

How can we best measure what matters?
To give just one example: standard economics textbooks all repeat that there are essentially three kinds of economic activity: production, exchange (or distribution), and consumption. In the textbooks on which I'm the lead author, we make the point that this leaves out an essential fourth activity: resource maintenance. How can you produce bicycles, cars, or anything if you don't maintain your production tools and machinery? How can you exchange goods and services if you don't maintain the social and physical infrastructure -- laws and communications systems? How can you "consume" (that's the term that's used) the pleasures of leisure time (music, cooking good food, athletics) if you don't maintain a healthy home and body? How can you produce, exchange, or consume anything at all if you don't maintain a healthy ecosystem, with clean water and air and other essentials for human existence?



Neva's Books



New Thinking in Macroeconomics: Social, Institutional, and Environmental Perspectives
Jonathan M. Harris, Neva R. Goodwin
Frontier Issues in Economic Thought Series
Neva B. Goodwin (Editor)
Social Economics: An Alternative Theory: Building Anew on Marshall's "Principles"
Neva B. Goodwin 


Economics Lecture Draws Crowd
The BRC's first public event of 1998, a lecture and dialogue on "Human Well-being and Economic Goals," stimulated a lively discussion on human values and the limitations of an economic approach to questions of societal good. Cosponsored by the Cambridge Forum and the Boston Research Center for the 21st Century, the evening lecture was presented by Neva Goodwin, a proponent of contextual economics and the Cofounder and Codirector of the Global Development And Environment Institute at Tufts University.
"When individuals set goals for themselves," Dr. Goodwin began, "they draw on deep value-beliefs in such things as goodness, or fairness, or service to God. Once someone has deeply accepted a final goal, it is almost impossible to argue him or her out of it." For purposes of the discussion, the phrase human well-being was defined as referring to whatever set of final goals each one of us believes in.
"Most people," Neva Goodwin continued, "would agree that some reasonable minimum standard of wealth is required to achieve final goals. The fierce arguments begin when people try to decide just what is a 'reasonable minimum standard.' The arguments are apt to get even more heated when these questions are raised: if a reasonable minimum is good for producing happiness, is more better? Is there a limit to how much more continues to be better?"

Evidence seems to show, Dr. Goodwin indicated, the following:

  • Within all countries the very poor on average are relatively unhappy.
  • Within advanced industrialized countries, once the large majority has risen out of poverty, additional national wealth seems to do little or nothing to improve measures of average happiness.
  • People tend to feel they are becoming happier when their standard of living is actually in the process of improving.
  • Most people, whatever their present standard of living, believe that all that is needed to make them really happy is an additional 20 to 25 percent beyond whatever they have right now.
  • Referring to the modern economic goal of maximizing consumption, Dr. Goodwin raised the equity issue, observing that purchasing behavior depends not only on what people want, but also on what they can pay for. "I don't know of any apologist for economics," she acknowledged, "who will state that the goal of the field is to maximize the consumption of the rich while ignoring those without purchasing power but that is the effect of a system of goals which, in abjuring overt values, seeks scientific neutrality by hitching its wagon to the star of consumer behavior."
    In addressing the question of Where do we go from here? Dr. Goodwin named three ways in which our conception of economics needs to change if it is to align its internal goals with acceptable final goals. First, economics must take seriously the fact that goals and values do get embedded in all social sciences. Presently, economics is a somewhat dangerous discipline because it purports to be value-neutral while it is, in fact, being developed as a tool to maximize output and the consumption of wealthy consumers. The claim of value-neutrality must be abandoned.
    Second, we need to alter the tradition of conceptualizing all individuals as divided into two economic roles: the worker and the consumer. Producer and consumer are neither a complete set of an individual's roles nor do most of us manage to be only one of these at a time. Economics should be rethought in terms of what's good for the whole person.
    Third, economics should be asking the following questions: Should human beings be viewed simply as necessary parts of a growing economy? Or, instead, should economic activity serve human well-being? Economic theory as it is now taught and practiced is much more growth-centered than human-centered.
  • Neva Goodwin and Richard Parker lead a lively
    discussion on human-centered economics













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