2016 URPE Annual Report

I. Membership

URPE has historically had more unofficial “members” than official members at any given time. We know that over 1,000 people identify as being a part of URPE or in our network, yet we struggle to get membership levels to the 500 mark. We are committed to remaining a dues-paying organization which is driven by the participation of its membership. We have begun to utilize multiple technologies and tactics to increase our membership and this includes sending renewal and subscription emails in addition to costly mail reminders. We have also added a feature to the website in the last 2 years that enables our members to create an account and renew online. Once a member does this, they can check their member status at any time and renew at their leisure. (For specific questions about your membership, please email Frances Boyes directly at urpe@urpe.org).

 It is important to stress the need for formal membership (which costs $20 per year at minimum). We are only truly stronger when we are together. We are a small professional association within our discipline.  Our growth as an organization can only serve to increase our influence within our field. Increasing our influence, which is a primary mission of URPE, has historically been necessary, but perhaps more so now that here in the U.S., and abroad, conservative decision makers are making great gains in their access to power. As a network of radical political economists who are organized, we can offer alternative solutions to social and economic problems. We continue to reach for our membership goal of 500 dues paying members and we hope that all who identify with URPE, but are not now members, will decide to join us, both by paying dues, and by participating in the activities of the organization.

II. Activities

RRPE

In 2016, the RRPE received 93 manuscripts (not including book reviews or conference proceedings). Of the 93, 13 have been accepted and 48 were rejected, for an acceptance rate of 14 percent and rejection rate of 51 percent. Twenty-three book reviews were received of which 14 were accepted, for an acceptance rate of 61 percent. Note that accepted and rejected submissions do not sum to total because some manuscripts are still under review or are awaiting revision and resubmission.

In 2016, the RRPE continued its tradition of publishing special issues: volume 48, issue  #1 (Spring 2016) carried the special issue on The Commons and the Common, edited by David Barkin, Brigitte Becthold, Chris Gunn, Michael Keaney, Bruce Pietrykowski, and Tamar Diana Wilson. Also in 2016, the Editorial Board voted as Best Paper from the previous volume year, “Unproductive Activity and Endogenous Technological Change in a Marxian Model of Economic Reproduction and Growth” by Erik K. Olsen, published in 47(1): 34-55.

In 2017, the journal received 11 papers from the URPE Sessions at the 2017 Chicago ASSA and the New York EEA meetings. Nine of these were accepted, for an acceptance rate of 82 percent. The fourth issue of the volume year is the Conference Proceedings issue. So, these 11 papers will be published in 49(4), Winter 2017, along with the David Gordon Memorial Lecture, which is delivered at the ASSA meetings and, in 2017, was delivered by Eileen Appelbaum with comments by John Schmitt.

Papers for the special issue on “The European Union” are currently in production, and the special issue will be published in 49(3), Fall 2017. Papers for the special issue on “The Past, Present and Future of Radical Economics: URPE at 50” are currently under review,  and this special issue will be published in 50(3), Fall 2017.

URPE at ASSA

URPE presented 15 panels at the ASSA meeting in San Francisco, including several on aspects of the Great Recession.  Dean Baker gave the David Gordon Memorial Lecture on “Rising Inequality: Are Rents the Problem. URPE gave a well-attended reception with a special celebration for Hazel Dayton Gunn, retiring RRPE managing editor. 

 Eastern Economic Association

The Eastern Economic Association (EEA) 2014 Conference was May 25-28 in Washington DC. URPE had 17 sessions at the meetings.  The “Easterns” are an excellent venue for URPE presentations in that the EEA is much more open to “other than mainstream” approaches to economics than the American Economic Association (AEA), which runs the ASSA meetings. The papers presented were again of high quality, and covered a wide spectrum of topics typical (and some not so typical) for heterodox economics. Among the topics were labor, gender, capital flows, profits, ecology, technology, trade, food, the informal economy, finance, investment, macro instability, money, distribution, growth, poverty, healthcare, and many aspects of methodology, among many others. We also held a very well attended reception at the conference.

 Southern Economic Association

This year we had the second URPE conference at the Southern Economics Association in Washington DC. We had six sessions and brought together URPE members and scholars. Topics included Post-Keynesian modeling, radical political economic theories of income distribution, growth, and development, the political economy of unions and collective bargaining, and the political economy of racism. The discussions were lively and rich. We are pleased with the direction things are going with the Southerns and looks forward to continuing and expanding URPE's presence in 2017 in Tampa, Florida.

 Western Economic Association

URPE has partnered with the Association for Institutional Thought (AFIT) to co-sponsor 3 sessions at the Western Social Science Association meetings in 2017. Scott Carter and Ruchira Sen organized two sessions featuring UMKC graduate students, and Geoff Schneider organized a panel on radical institutional economics. Depending on the success of this program, we may continue our partnership with AFIT or offer discrete URPE sessions in the future.

 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. As of December 1, their web site said that at the May 20 – 22, 2016 conference there were 4,000 participants, more than 1,350 speakers and hundreds of panels and workshops. While the exact match of those numbers to the numbers they gave for the 2015 conference makes one suspect of them (perhaps they will be updated later in December when the Left Form puts out the call for the 2017 conference), they nevertheless give the approximate size of the meeting. URPE contributes from 2 or 3 up to 10 panels to the Left Forum in a given year, and in 2016 we sponsored or co-sponsored 7. 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

Not available.

 URPE Doctoral Fellowship

In 2016 URPE offered its first dissertation fellowship.  The fellowship was awarded to Robin K. Chang, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Political Science, York University, Toronto, ON.  The $5,000 fellowship was awarded to support his dissertation “A Marxian Explanation for the Fast Rate of Growth in Healthcare Expenditure”.  His dissertation is being supervised by professors Gregory Albo (committee chair, York Univ.), David McNally (York Univ.), and Robert Chernomas (Univ. of Manitoba).

Response to the fellowship announcement was good. URPE received fourteen applications from students at ten different universities, from four different countries, and a variety of different academic disciplines, including economics, politics, sociology, and international affairs.  There were many excellent proposals, and the committee would have liked to have funded more of them if the finances were available.

 URPE Teaching Materials and Workshops Initiative

The first online workshop for URPE members has been posted covering "Constructing a Teaching Philosophy and Teaching Portfolio." This workshop is intended to help graduate students and those on the job market to better prepare for getting a job at a teaching-oriented university. The workshop includes video segments by Geoff Schneider and workshop segments that people complete on their own. Once people complete materials utilizing the online workshop they are encouraged to send their materials to Geoff. Several graduate students have already taken advantage of this opportunity.

 Newsletter

The newsletter is now in its 48th year! It continues to be a vehicle for short articles, abstracts, and announcements relevant to the interest of our membership. It is now primarily available in electronic format (via email), though a paper copy via USPS can be requested. We are always soliciting submissions from members about their research, opinions, books, and activism. We are currently working on a project to have all issues of the newsletter from the past 48 years scanned and available online. You can access the last 13 years of the newsletter at urpe.org.

Urpe.org

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

–Newsletter articles http://urpe.org/?page=urpe_activities&side=urpe_newsletter

–Syllabi for courses they have developed http://urpe.org/?page=resources&side=course_syllabi

–Notices of their new books published http://urpe.org/?page=member_activities&side=urpe_members_books

–Opinion articles they have written for the URPE blog and elsewhere http://urpe.org/?page=member_activities&side=opinion

–Information on activities they are undertaking http://urpe.org/?page=member_activities

URPE members are urged to contribute to these pages. The course syllabi pages, the new books page, and the newsletters are among the most popular website pages.  The course syllabi page is the second most popular page after the homepage. URPE’s Political Economy Books page is on the second page for a Google search for “Political Economy Books,” increasing the number of people who are aware of URPE members’ books.  We began the opinion page last 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. Visitors to the site have dropped about 8 percent this year, possibly attributable in part to the great increase in URPE blog traffic.  

 Blog

David M. Fields was appointed URPE media coordinator in 2016.  Blog posts and viewers have increased substantially since then. In 2015 there were 6,874 views of blog posts, while in 2016 (through Dec. 7) there were 55,281.  The top blog posts include UMass-Amherst preparing to abolish the Labor Center, James Galbraith on Brexit, Professional Outlets for Radical Scholarship and Gerald Epstein on Paul Krugman Crossing the Line. This year, for the first time, URPE blog readership is greater than that of the URPE website. Concerning the blog, the top search term is "radical political economy", top referral site is Facebook, top country for which visitors are viewing posts is US (second is UK), total number of visitors to the blog is 33,228 (with total views of posts topping 55,281), and the total number of followers of the blog is 276. 

 Twitter

Concerning the engagement rate, which is over a 28 day period, 56.9K impressions and 125 engagements.  Also, as of early December,  Tweets: 1,365, Followers: 945

 Facebook page

The URPE Facebook page continues to grow in membership, expanding our ability to network with activists and scholars around the globe. We currently have over 5,800 members. The page is very active with new posts and discussions taking place constantly. We used to be able to access more detailed data through Facebook about who the members are, including what countries they are from and historical trends about activity on the page. Unfortunately, we are no longer able to access this data but we do have a healthy group of followers and an active page.

List serve

The URPE list serve is used for any sort of internal communication of information related to political economy that would be of interest to a significant number of URPE members, for example, job announcements, calls for papers, and announcements of conferences, and sharing resources such as syllabi or teaching methods. It is the best way to connect with more than 1,500 people in the URPE community via email.

 URPE 50th anniversary conference and celebration

URPE’s 50th anniversary will occur in 2018.  To mark this occasion URPE is planning a conference and celebration in 2018.  The Steering Committee discussed this and has begun negotiations with the Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst and the Hampshire Hospitality Group to hold the conference there in November 2018. We have also had very preliminary discussions with the chair of the UMass Department of Economics and one of the co-directors of the Political Economy Research Institute regarding the event, and both expressed support for holding it at UMass.  Early plans for the conference and celebration are to include a mix of panel discussion and sessions devoted to the history, the present, and the future of radical political economics and URPE, as well as cultural events.

There will also be a 2017 conference in New York City, Left-Wing Economics in a Right-Wing Political Climate.  It will take place on April 8, 2017 at St. Francis College, Brooklyn.  The conference will bring together the theoretical perspectives of radical political economics and the organizational experiences of those engaged in struggle on the many crucial issues confronting us today.  It will, we hope, contribute to the development of an agenda that can guide all of us in the difficult years ahead.  Additional information is available on the URPE website.

 URPE history

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 (elvanderslice@gmail.com).

 RRPE special issue: The Past, Present & Future of Radical Economics: URPE at 50. The manuscript submission deadline is February 1, 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.  Nine oral histories have thus far been done, with four posted to the URPE YouTube site. If you are interested in doing an oral history, contact Paul Cooney though the National Office.

III. Financial

This year, 2016, was the first year of our increased profit share from the RRPE. This increase has allowed us to have a $22,000.00 surplus at the end of fiscal year 2016. We did have some modest one-time expenses this year related to transitioning the position of Managing Editor of the RRPE but, in general, expenses have not increased and we do not foresee any significant increases to expenses in the future. We are planning for some costly special projects (mostly related to our 50th anniversary) in the coming year as well as in 2018. This year’s surplus means that we will not have to dip too far into the reserves in order to accomplish our goals for initiatives and programs in 2017. It also means that we are positioned to anticipate another surplus in 2017, but we will not know our profit share figures until the end of the first quarter of 2017.  Our largest expenses continue to be the salaries of the 2 paid staff people (URPE Coordinator and Managing Editor of the RRPE). In addition to salaries, travel expenses make up a significant part of our budgeted expenses. We provide travel subsidies to Editorial Board and Steering Committee members to participate in regular annual or semiannual meetings.

As for investments and assets, URPE has reserves available in a savings account as well as $100,000 invested in a 48-month CD. Unfortunately, the CD does not offer more than 1.5% interest. We continue to keep around 35k invested in Equal Exchange shares and this investment has returned an average of 6% each year. Given the success of this investment we are open to the opportunity to increase our shares and would discuss that if Equal Exchange were to make that option available to us.

 The breakdown of URPE assets are: $137,403.81 in investments, around $67,000 in liquid reserves, and $3,360 in the URPE Fellowship Fund (we welcome donations to this fund at any time!)

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  Enid Arvidson (Managing Editor), Waquar Ahmed,  Fletcher Baragar, David Barkin, Deepankar Basu, Brigitte Bechtold, Ray Boddy, Sara Cantillon, Firat Demir, William Dugger, Don Goldstein, Davide Gualerzi,  Fadhel Kaboub, Annina Kaltenbrunner, Elif Karacimen, Michael Keaney, Marlene Kim, Mark Klinedinst, David Kotz, Mehrene Larudee, Andrew Mearman, Gary Mongiovi,  Shaianne Osterreich, Paddy Quick, Arslan Razmi,  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 ending 2018), Scott Carter (term ending 2018), Paul Cooney (term ending 2017), Ann Davis (term ending 2018), Julio Huato (term ending 2017), J.D. Mason (term ending 2018), Erik Olsen (term ending 2019), Paddy Quick (term ending 2019), Geoffrey Schneider (term ending 2017), Lane Vanderslice (term ending 2017), Ramaa Vasudevan (term ending 2019).

URPE Coordinators Frances Boyes, National Office Manager and Newsletter Editor, David M. Fields, Social Media.