2-week summer course in “economic theory and global prioritization”: LMK if interested!

Update (Dec. 23): this is going ahead! Applications are open on the Forethought website here, along with more information, including a provisional syllabus.


Background: I’m an economics DPhil student at Oxford and research associate at GPI.

I thought some people might find it valuable if I organized a 2-week course, at the beginning or end of next summer (to avoid overlap with internships/​etc), on methods and topics in economic theory that

  • seem especially useful for “global priorities research” purposes,

  • aren’t necessarily covered by a standard undergrad or grad economics curriculum, and

  • I happen to know about.

It would take 10-25 students, primarily late-stage undergrads or early-stage grad students in economics. It would be in person, with lectures and problem sets and all the rest of it. If it goes well, it might serve as a basis for developing more polished and scalable educational materials.

The exact syllabus isn’t finalized, but we would try to spend a few days each on what to my understanding are particularly relevant and not-generically-covered topics in

  • growth theory, such as

    • AI and growth (esp. [1]),

    • considerations bearing on the relationship between growth and x-risk (e.g. [2]), and

    • long-term implications of population growth or decline (e.g. [3]);

  • philanthropic strategy, such as

    • my patient philanthropy nonsense ([4]) and

    • the game theory of replaceability /​ crowding out more generally;

  • finance, such as

    • impact investing and

    • mission hedging ([6]); and

  • mechanism design, such as

    • quadratic funding ([7]) and

    • the mechanisms behind international climate agreements, and how they might apply to other global public goods.

I would also try to squeeze in a few words about dead-ends that EA-minded econ theory students often seem to wander down (like why trying to understand and make something x-risk-relevant out of these papers is a waste of time!).

The course would probably be funded and sponsored by Forethought. It would probably be in Oxford, but I could look into doing it in the Bahamas, if people prefer (what with FTX being there now and keen to sponsor EA activity there). Transportation and accommodation would be provided.

If something like this sounds like it could be appealing to you, please fill out an expression of interest, so I can gauge how much demand there would be and reach out to those interested if it goes ahead. And comment below or reach out to me with any questions or suggestions.