2015 URPE Annual Report

I. Membership

URPE is finishing 2015 with a membership base of over 454 dues paying members. The URPE community that includes our social networks has grown to more than 5,000 in 2015 and we see that number increase every day. As a membership organization, it is very important that we continue to attract new members.

The URPE leadership makes it a priority to remain relevant to radicals through our various projects run by members who volunteer their time to help grow the organization. The success of URPE at ASSA and URPE at EEA have played a large role in the increase in membership and in 2015 we have expanded our conference presence to include a program at  the Southern Economic Association meetings. Other projects that we hope will also function as effective recruiting tools are the URPE Road Show, the upcoming reader, and a graduate student fellowship.

Our new website has played a key role by making it easier than ever to join and renew your membership. We will continue to utilize technologies available to us as well as old-fashioned networking in order to work toward strengthening our membership numbers and participation in 2016.

II. Activities

RRPE

In 2015, the RRPE received 75 manuscripts of which 15 were accepted and 32 were rejected for an acceptance rate of 20 percent. Seventeen book reviews were received of which 15 were accepted, for an acceptance rate of 88 percent. Note that accepted and rejected submissions do not sum to total received because some manuscripts are still under review or are waiting for revision and resubmission. In 2015, the RRPE continued its occasional series on “What ‘Radical’ Means in the 21st Century” by publishing a piece by Bill Carroll entitled, “Robust Radicalism.” Also in 2015, the Editorial Board voted as Best Paper from the previous volume year, “Does the State Benefit Labor? A Cross-Country Comparison of the Net Social Wage” by Thanasis Maniatis.

In 2016, the journal received 14 papers from the URPE Sessions at the 2016 San Francisco ASSA meetings and the Washington, DC EEA meetings. Eight of these were accepted, for an acceptance rate of 57 percent. The fourth issue of the volume year is the Conference Proceedings issue. So, these eight papers will be published in 48(4) along with the David Gordon Memorial Lecture which is delivered at the ASSA meetings, and which, in 2016, was delivered by Dean Baker.

Papers for the special issue on “The European Union” are currently under review. A Call for Papers is still active for the special issue on “The Past, Present and Future of Radical Economics: URPE at 50” with a submission deadline of February 1, 2017.

In March 2016, Hazel Dayton Gunn retired as managing editor of the RRPE after serving in this position for 20 years. The editorial board and the incoming managing editor, Enid Arvidson, are incredibly grateful for Hazel’s leadership, mastery, and many new initiatives she brought to the journal during her tenure, and extended deep thanks at a retirement dinner in San Francisco.

Starting January 1, 2016, the RRPE began using Manuscript Central for all submissions and reviews. Manuscript Central is an online submission program for scholarly publishers run by Thompson Reuters with which RRPE’s publisher, SAGE, contracts. Despite a few startup snags, the transition to Manuscript Central has gone well, and the program significantly helps keep records and paperwork organized.

URPE at ASSA

URPE continues to be allotted 16 sessions at the ASSA convention, and there does not seem to be any threat of a reduction in the foreseeable future. The last reduction attempt was nine years ago and our attendance in recent years has been respectable enough (thanks to Al Campbell for keeping our own records of attendance to help defend ourselves against possible reduction attempts in the future). LERA is being cut way back, but they moved their main convention to the summer so fewer of their members attend the ASSA meetings.

One of our sessions is for the Gordon Lecture, one is for a joint URPE-AEA session and three are shared with IAFFE. So that leaves 11 sessions that are open for our submission process, which seems to be about right given our current rate of proposals.

In the 2015 meetings, the Gordon Lecture was given by Julie Schor (“Capitalism and the Climate Crisis”) and the joint URPE-AEA session was on “Debating the Minimum Wage.”

In the upcoming 2016 meetings, the Gordon lecture will be by Dean Baker (“Rising Inequality: Are Rents the Problem?”) and the joint session will be on “Causes of the Great Recession and the Prospects for Recovery.” We are trying to utilize the joint session to engage in critical dialogue with the mainstream (URPE members presenting papers and mainstream economists as discussants). One advantage of such an ASSA session is that mainstream economists have to respond to our criticisms (since we are in the same room!), rather than just ignoring us as they usually do.

Southern Economic Association

On November 21-23 in New Orleans URPE kicked off its inaugural URPE@SEA Conference. It was a wild success! We had seven very interesting panels over the course of three days. The first two days consisted of three panels each where given the extra 15 minutes at the SEA as compared to other conferences led to invigorating and engaged discussion, constrictive criticism, and purposeful reflection and contemplation of the nature of radical political economics and ways we can move forward.

Panels ranged the gamut from theoretical discussions about the nature of speculation and ‘fictitious capital’ in the current expression of capitalism, analyses of racial and gender discrimination in both income and wealth, development of useful and innovative ways to conceptualize our study such as the aid from graphical and analytical tools found in computer science and Geographic Information Systems, and a rich discussion about the nature of undergraduate radical pedagogy.

The conference ended on the third day with a very appropriate panel on Katrina Ten Years After organized by RRPE editor Mark Klinedinst, co-editor of a recent book by that name. Because Mark knows New Orleans we were able to have some very local flavor in the Upper Ninth Ward on Sunday evening and truly enjoyed the New Orleans experience. Well done by all who participated!

We are excited about the future of URPE@SEA and look forward to taking the momentum built at this conference into next year’s conference, which will be held in Washington, DC.

Eastern Economic Association

The 2015 EEA conference was held in New York City: URPE members presented 52 papers in 14 panels.

URPE at Left Forum

URPE is an interdisciplinary association of both academics and activists (not exclusive categories!) devoted to the study, development, and application of radical political economic analysis to social problems. While many of our presentations in the ASSAs, Easterns and Southerns have important implications for activism, they are mostly academic in form. The Left Forum is the largest yearly conference we take part in that is mostly activists (again, many of those also being academics), and whose presentations are often non-academic in form. It is a major gathering of the activist left in the U.S.: in 2015 there were 4,000 participants, more than 1,350 speakers and hundreds of panels and workshops. URPE contributes from 2 or 3 up to 10 panels to the Left Forum in a given year, and in 2015 we sponsored or co-sponsored 5. Because of the size of this conference, every year those URPE members who go, beyond making our small contribution to this broad collective effort, are simply flooded with experiences from the current fight for a radical political economy and a human-centered social transformation.

URPE Reader

Thirty-five proposals for the URPE Reader were received in August, which required us to constrain the number of words per contribution to about 3,000. The deadline for final contributions was November, but was extended to December. By the middle of December 2015, 28 papers were submitted. Ideally, the Reader, to be published by Dollars and Sense, will be ready by Fall, 2016.

URPE Doctoral Fellowship

URPE is pleased to announce an exciting new initiative--an URPE Doctoral Fellowship that will be awarded annually to a graduate student writing a dissertation in radical political economics. The goal of this fellowship is to contribute to the development of new radical political economists. The Fellowship will provide a grant of $5,000 to a student with an approved topic. Recipients will be expected to share their subsequent work with URPE through one of the outlets it provides, such as RRPE, URPE-sponsored conferences, URPE blog et alia. The first such fellowship will be awarded for the 2016-17 Academic Year, and the application procedure will be announced early in 2016. At the same time, URPE will solicit contributions from its members and friends that will be used to set up a Doctoral Fellowship Fund. The goal is to accumulate sufficient resources in this fund so that it would not be necessary to allocate funds from the general URPE budget on an annual basis. If successful, we would be able to increase the size of the fellowship and/or award multiple fellowships.

URPE Lecture Series

The URPE lecture series is designed to get URPE members together with college audiences to participate in conversations related to radical political economy. We did not host any events as part of this series in 2015 but are collaborating with Sage Publications, publisher of the RRPE, on a series in 2016. For more information or to volunteer, please contact Frances Boyes at urpe@urpe.org.

Political Economy Open Mic Night

Open mic nights are no longer just for the musicians and the poets--economists are now coming together and sharing their ideas and research! The open mic format is a short 6-minute presentation of anything related to political economy. Presentations can include PowerPoints on dissertation ideas, summaries of books written and the sharing of research. (Music and poetry are encouraged also!) This is a nice way to connect with other activists and academics in a casual setting and to get encouragement and feedback on the work that we all do. Washington, DC local members held a meeting in January 2015. In 2016, we look forward to the possibility of organizing URPE chapters that can host these events locally. The leadership of URPE is dedicated to supporting efforts to bring together URPE folks in specific cities or regions--all we need are volunteers willing to take on the task of organizing an event. We can facilitate communication and offer some resources to help get a successful chapter or event off the ground. For help with coordinating an open mic (or another event) in your area, contact Frances Boyes at urpe@urpe.org.

URPE Teaching Materials and Workshops Initiative (Geoff Schneider)

In 2014, I began preparing materials for online teaching workshops. These will include written materials and videos posted to the URPE web page. This is a long process, but the initial work will be completed in time for some virtual teaching workshops in the summer of 2016. Those workshops will include one on course and syllabus design, and one on preparing for the job market. After the first round of workshops, we will assess their effectiveness and determine if it is worthwhile to construct additional ones.

In order to offer a venue for regular teaching workshops and other opportunities for heterodox economists the day prior to the ASSA meetings, I have taken over the leadership of ICAPE and begun work on an ICAPE Conference, scheduled for January 5, 2017 at Roosevelt University. This conference will feature a series of teaching workshops as well as sessions for graduate students and heterodox economists to present their work.

The goals of the ICAPE pre-ASSA conference as they pertain to URPE are as follows:
1. To provide additional teaching and job market support for radical graduate students and new faculty;
2. To give more URPE members, especially graduate students and those unable to get on the ASSA program, a venue to present their work;
3. To foster collaboration between URPE and the other heterodox associations under the ICAPE banner.

After the first ICAPE pre-ASSA conference in January 2017, we will assess whether or not it is worthwhile to continue this endeavor.

Newsletter

The URPE newsletter is now available quarterly in electronic format and on the web at www.urpe.org. URPE members can find interesting short articles, abstracts, and announcements in the newsletter. In 2016, we plan to begin a new series in the newsletter that will highlight the activist and organizing work that our members do. If you know an URPEr whose work should be profiled, please send us their information. As always, we welcome submissions and feedback! Contact Frances Boyes at urpe@urpe.org for more information. www.urpe.org

Urpe.org

Content contributed by members is a very important part of urpe.org. URPE members contribute

The course syllabi pages, the new books page, and the newsletters are among the most popular website pages. We have just begun the opinion page this year to provide a place where URPE members' opinion articles expressed in different venues can be brought together so that members and others can conveniently access these articles. We hope that these pages will become an increasingly important way of disseminating information about radical political economy.

The transition to a new website last year required a transition to a new way of collecting website statistics, which we began in May this year.   There are now about 1,600 sessions per month. It appears that the transition to the new website has resulted in a drop of about one-third in people visiting the site. One possible cause of this unfortunate development is due to there not being redirects from the old urpe.org website addresses for key pages to the new ones.

Blog

In 2015, there were 3,678 visitors and 6,716 views. URPE members are encouraged to submit their blog posts to Frances Boyes at  urpe@urpe.org .

URPE Facebook page

The URPE Facebook membership is 4,193 members as of 12/14/2015, and there are ongoing discussions on relevant issues.

List serve

The URPE list serve is very popular and growing! Many URPErs use the list serve for job announcements, calls for papers, and resource sharing. It is the best way to connect with more than 1,400 people in the URPE community via email.

URPE history

URPE’s 50th anniversary will be in 2018. The editorial board of the RRPE and the steering committee urge URPE members to begin thinking and writing about the history of URPE and radical economics. The key activity that is being undertaken is a special issue of the RRPE. Both the RRPE and the steering committee have formed committees on URPE history. The point person for the RRPE is Marlene Kim and for the SC, Lane Vanderslice.

RRPE special issue: The Past, Present & Future of Radical Economics: URPE at 50. The manuscript submission deadline is June 30, 2016. Questions on this special issue may be sent to: Marlene Kim (Marlene.Kim@umb.edu). Please contact her regarding your interest in submission to ensure covering the important areas and topics for this issue.

Oral histories. Oral histories are an important way to capture URPE history. Some progress on this has been made, with four full interviews and two shorter ones done to test the idea and explore methods of presenting the information. Additional interviews will be conducted in 2016. If you are interested in doing an oral history, contact Paul Cooney though the National Office.

Panel presentations. URPE members are urged to consider presentations on topics in radical economics and URPE history at upcoming URPE at ASSAs and other meetings. A broad-based history of radical economics needs a broad base of people contributing to articulate it.

III. Financial

URPE ran a small deficit of $910.13 in 2015 due to a slight increase in one time expenditures.  In 2015 URPE had revenues of approximately $150,000.00 and expenses of approximately $151,000.00. URPE’s revenues derive mainly from two sources: royalties from the publishing contract with Sage for the Review of Radical Political Economics (82 percent of revenues) and membership dues (15 percent of revenue). Other sources of revenue include interest on savings, donations, conference registration fees, and other occasional income.

 URPE’s largest expenses are payroll for the URPE Office Coordinator and the Managing Editor of the RRPE, equaling approximately 50 percent of the total expenses. Other expenses include the operating budget for the RRPE, general administration for the national office, travel for the Steering Committee to SC semi-annual meetings and for the Office Manager, our Speaker’s Bureau, and other occasional expenses. In 2015, the organization incurred additional expenses related to the search for a new Managing Editor of the RRPE as well as the added travel expenses related to adding an URPE program at the Southerns.

 URPE has been investing in certificates of deposit and our investments have grown steadily, ending 2015 at $176,000.00, largely in interesting-bearing bank accounts. URPE has invested approximately $30,000 in shares in Equal Exchange, a business which promotes coffee and other products grown in cooperatives and under fair trade guidelines.

The URPE Finance Committee (Steering Committee member, Erik Olsen and Treasurer, Paul Cooney) has taken on the task of revising the annual operating budget to reallocate funds toward projects that are a priority of the organization and are working closely with the URPE Office Coordinator, Frances Boyes, to closely manage the operating budget for 2016. We are anticipating additional significant one-time expenditures related to the transition of a new Managing Editor of the RRPE. We are also planning to shift some investments into short term CDs. We are also taking on the task of awarding a $5K fellowship while simultaneously working to solicit that amount in donations to support the fellowship fund. 

IV. People

We would like to acknowledge the following people whose efforts make URPE possible.

URPE members whose radical political economy analysis and other efforts to understand and change society are the reason for URPE’s existence.

The Review of Radical Political Economy Hazel Dayton Gunn (Managing Editor), Enid Arvidson, Fletcher Baragar, David Barkin, Brigitte Bechtold, Ray Boddy, Martha Campbell, Sara Cantillon, Firat Demir, William Dugger, Don Goldstein, Davide Gualerzi, Christopher Gunn, Fadhel Kaboub, Annina Kaltenbrunner, Michael Keaney, Marlene Kim, Mark Klinedinst, Mehrene Larudee, Mark Lautzenheiser, Victor Lippit, Gary Mongiovi, Phillip O’Hara, Shaianne Osterreich, Paddy Quick, Arslan Razmi, Daniel E. Saros, Susan Schroeder, Zoe Sherman, Ramaa Vasudevan, John Willoughby and Mary Wrenn.

Steering Committee The Steering Committee is made up of twelve members serving staggered three-year terms, so that every year four members’ terms expire: Al Campbell (term expiring 2018), Scott Carter (term expiring 2018), Paul Cooney (term expiring 2017), Ann Davis (term expiring 2018), Julio Huato (term expiring 2017), JD Mason (term expiring 2018), Erik Olsen (term expiring 2016), Paddy Quick (term expiring 2016), Geoffrey Schneider (term expiring 2017), Lane Vanderslice (term expiring 2017), Ramaa Vasudevan (term expiring 2016, Matias Vernengo (term expiring 2016).

URPE Coordinators Frances Boyes, National Office Manager and Newsletter Editor, and Fred Moseley, ASSA Coordinator.

URPE members willing to make a significant but manageable commitment of time and talent are urged to consider running for election to the RRPE Editorial Board or the URPE Steering Committee.

Comments by members on the Annual Report and URPE activities are welcome and may be sent to Frances Boyes at the URPE National Office urpe@labornet.org .