Why does mainstream economics ignore ecology? (PhD progress report 3, August 2019)


About tuncali

I began keeping aquariums as early as I was nine years old. Since then, I kept many aquariums and lots of fish, plant and invertebrate species. My favorite fish family is of course cichlids with their fascinating behaviors. My relatively new area of interest is low-tech natural aquariums as almost self-sufficient ecosystems that are I think ideal models for sustainable life.
This entry was posted in Sustainable life and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Why does mainstream economics ignore ecology? (PhD progress report 3, August 2019)

  1. tuncali says:

    The same PhD Progress report (August 2019) can be viewed and downloaded here:

  2. tuncali says:

    My 4. PhD progress report (Feb 2020) can be viewed and downloaded here:

  3. tuncali says:

    Current status of my PhD (as of 16. July 2020):

    Though I received some positive feedback from various academicians, not very well on the side of official procedure at the University of Corsica; as feedback to my 3rd and 4th progress reports, my co-director (Dominique Prunetti) implied that they didn’t meet academic criteria (?) without explaining, what academic criteria he was talking about. And he wrote nothing else about the content of my 3rd and 4th progress reports.

    I am still waiting for a feedback from my director Paul-Marie Romani. He is actually the more philosophical type with real interest in my PhD subject; history of economic thought, qualitative, historical and philosophical analysis etc. (especially epistemology)

    I already knew, my co-director Prunetti thinks and behaves like a mainstream (neoclassical/neoliberal) economist. I suspect, he is offended by my sharp criticism. Actually he shouldn’t be, because it is in the nature of my PhD which questions “why mainstream economics ignores (or underplays the importance of) ecology”.

    Besides, I am open to any kind of information that show, there are indeed some economy schools that take issues like ecological literacy and sustainability (ecological sustainability; not business sustainability) seriously. After all, I am looking for true facts of real life in order to minimize material and logical mistakes in my PhD thesis.

    Another problem could be, Mr Prunetti tend to think, real and respectable science is only about quantitative analysis (well-known Newton or physics envy in the history of economic thought). My impression is, he lacks the experience and philosophical/historical background required for qualitative analysis. I wonder, what kind of PhD work he has supervised so far.

    By chance, I have a quite strong background in fields like physics, mathematics and statistics; especially in physics. So I have a sound judgement, where and how to use mathematics, and how not to misuse it (see premature mathematisation in neoclassical economics).

    On 28. May 2020 I wrote an email to my director Romani (with cc to Prunetti) asking for a document by Prunetti, explaining openly and clearly what academic criteria he is talking about; what content doesn’t meet what academic (or scientific) criteria? But he still didn’t send me any explanation yet.

    I think, academic (or scientific) criteria requires first of all intellectual honesty, openness and transparency. Otherwise, how can I know what he is talking about, and how I can correct any mistakes if I have any?

    Meanwhile, I collect valuable feedback from other interested people (including academicians from other universities) as I (unlike Prunetti) believe in open discussion and open science.

    I plan to obtain as many comments and critiques from different interested people and academics (from different occupations and disciplines) before writing the first draft of my PhD.

    I will publish all these feedback here on this webpage (with the explicit written consent of the authors) as downloadable pdf files, in order to:

    1) collect all comments, suggestions and critiques (from different points of views) before writing my first draft; to minimize material or logical errors, to minimize missing parts, to improve content
    2) make the process of thesis development (and everyone’s share in it) more visible
    3) have better arguments against any obstacles/prejudices claiming that my work is not academic/scientific/respectable enough

    If you find my PhD subject (why does mainstream economics ignore ecology?) interesting, you can read my progress reports 3 and 4, and send me your comments, critiques and suggestions by email to phd@tuncalik.com

    You don’t need to have any academic title; sincere interest is enough. You can be a person from any discipline and occupation. I recommend reading the 3. report first, which is the shorter and more readable one. You don’t need to read whole reports; you can also send your feedback for the part(s) you have read. You can send your feedback in two sections (i.e. subtitles), public and private. I will publish here only public sections.

    References to real-life cases or real-life statistics that either support or refute my arguments are especially valuable for my PhD.
    I’ve recently read two books that I found very enlightening for my PhD:

    1) The Death of Nature, Carolyn Merchant (the history of cultural revolution in Europe from organic to mechanistic world; the ideological foundations of mechanistic reductionism which is so prevalent in mainstream economics)
    2) The Culture of Narcissism, Christopher Lasch, afterword (begins on page 281), the psychological and cultural foundations of ungrounded technological optimism (technological fundamentalism) which is also very prevalent in mainstream economics

  4. tuncali says:

    Feedback by Prof Peter Söderbaum for my 3. and 4. PhD progress reports (pdf):

    Peter Soderbaum is Professor of Ecological Economics at Mälardalen University, Sweden and author of a number of books including Ecological Economics (2000). His numerous articles have been published in journals such as Ecological Economics, Journal of Bioeconomics, Post-autistic Economics Review, Journal of Interdisciplinary Economics, Integrated Environmental Assessment and Management and International Journal of Green Economics. (ref: google books)

    Prof Söderbaum is one of the co-authors of the book Economics and the Ecosystem (2019) edited by E. Fullbrook and J. Morgan. His article in this book:

    Toward sustainable development: from neoclassical monopoly to democracy

  5. tuncali says:

    When people asked me “what’s the title of your PhD?”, I used to say simply “why does mainstream economics ignore ecology?”

    About a week ago, an academician of economics recommended me to change the title of my PhD, like “how mainstream economics deals with ecology?” My title was apparently too offensive for many economists.

    I told him that I would think about it. Then I really reflected on it, and decided to offer both versions. Take whichever version you like.

    1) Official, polite, scientific(!), long version:
    What’s the place of ecology (i.e. ecological literacy) in mainstream undergraduate economics education?

    2) Unofficial, impolite, sincere, realistic, short version:
    Why does mainstream economics ignore ecology?
    There is a nice definition of “ecological literacy” in this article:

    “To be ecoliterate means understanding the principles of organization of ecological communities [i.e. living ecosystems including humans], collaboration, and using these principles for sustainable human communities.”

    There is a book on ecological literacy which can be purchased in pdf ebook format. Highly recommended:

    Ecological Literacy: Educating Our Children for a Sustainable World

  6. tuncali says:

    You may download following pdf files:

    1) Official description of my PhD in French (University of Corsica)

    English translation of PhD description:

    2) Third and last (officially confirmed) version of my PhD offer in English

    3) First (original) version of my PhD offer in English

    4) First PhD presentation poster in English (June 2019)

  7. tuncali says:

    I know, “mainstream economics” is a much disputed term. You may find a definition of mainstream economics here:

    “Mainstream economics refers to the orthodox or neoclassical tradition of economics, in which markets are moved by an invisible hand and all actors are rational.”

    I use the term “mainstream economics” in the sense of orthodox, most common and dominant line of economic thought (in most cases neoclassical), especially in the context of undergraduate (bachelor) economics education.

    Even mainstream economics education claims to offer lectures (like environmental resource economics), projects and activities that are supposed to foster ecological literacy, especially in graduate and master studies. The question is, what percentage of students take these lectures, and if they really foster ecological literacy (despite intensive indoctrination by neoclassical economics).

    In my opinion (as I claim in my PhD progress reports 3 and 4), human-centered and mechanistic-reductionist worldview, that is, industrial paradigm –in contrast to organic/ecological worldview– is one of the most significant features of mainstream economics.

    My claim: This worldview (industrial paradigm), which is in most cases fostered by modern industrial and economics education, is one of the greatest obstacles to ecological literacy.

    More information: What is industrial paradigm? Industrial vs Ecological Paradigm

  8. tuncali says:

    Feedback by Dr Julien-François Gerber for my 3rd and 4th PhD progress
    reports (our email correspondence)

    The same document can be downloaded here:

    “Julien-François Gerber is an Assistant Professor at the International Institute of Social Studies in The Hague. Before that, he was a faculty in Bhutan, in India, and a visiting fellow at Harvard University. He holds a PhD from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. He works on the relationships between economic systems, ecological (un)sustainability, and the conditions for flourishing, alienation and resistance. He has published on the expansion of capitalism in the rural sphere, the property-credit nexus, popular environmentalism, (de)commodification, and post-growth/degrowth.” Reference: https://www.isrf.org/fellows-projects/julien-francois-gerber/

  9. tuncali says:

    Feedback by Prof Richard Norgaard for my 3rd and 4th PhD progress
    reports (our email correspondence)

    The same document can be downloaded here:

    Richard Norgaard is Professor Emeritus of Energy and Resources at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught for forty-three years. Norgaard is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a recipient of the Boulding Award for Ecological Economics, and one of the founders of the field of ecological economics. Reference: https://greattransition.org/contributor/richard-norgaard

    Richard Norgaard Professor Emeritus

    Personal website

  10. tuncali says:

    The latest draft-version of my PhD thesis “why does mainstream economics ignore ecology?” can be downloaded here as pdf booklet. Note that this is not the final version. All critics, suggestions and comments are welcome.

Leave a Reply