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Radical Uncertainty: decision making in an unknowable future [Year 12 Enrichment Task]

Penny Brooks

1st June 2020

This week's enrichment tasks have a change of emphasis, as instead of research, they require students to listen to podcasts of recent public lectures at the London School of Economics. The LSE has a fantastic programme of lectures, for which, in normal times, tickets are available free of charge to the public, but which are also later published as podcasts making them fully available to anyone who is interested - you can find the full list of such events here Under current social distancing, the lectures are still taking place virtually, with audiences registering in advance to 'attend' them on Zoom - and the podcasts continue to be made available afterwards.

The purpose this task is to enable students to listen to excellent and stimulating debate from some eminent economists and professors, and to gain some practical experience of taking notes from them. Given that universities are likely to be offering their undergraduates lectures online at the start of the next academic year, this is a good opportunity to try out the skills needed - when you open the document at the end of this text, you will find a link to the podcast as well as some guidance on taking notes from it, in order to ensure that you pick up on key points.

This lecture was given by two leading economists in March, to coincide with the publication of their new book 'Radical Uncertainty: decision making in an unknowable future'. Their aim is to propose better economic models than those based on rational probability, which we currently teach. They discuss decision making in conditions of radical uncertainty, where we can neither imagine all possible outcomes nor assign probabilities to future events. The speakers are John Kay, a Fellow of St John's College, Oxford who has held professorial appointments at the University of Oxford, London Business School and LSE, and Mervyn King, who was Governor of the Bank of England from 2003 to 2013 and is currently Professor of Economics and Law at New York University and School Professor of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science. You can find more background to the event here:

The event took place on 10th March - before lockdown, so it was in front of an audience of students, academics and the public. The podcast is around 1 hour and 20 minutes long, and covers aspects of economic theory which will be familiar to Year 12 students, and will stretch their understanding of it - I hope you all enjoy it!

Link to the podcast and guidance notes:

Yr 12 8 Lse Podcast Radical Uncertainty Decision Making For An Uncertain Future

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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