Toulouse School of Economics: Creating well-rounded economists to solve the world’s most pressing challenges
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Toulouse School of Economics: Creating well-rounded economists to solve the world’s most pressing challenges

The world is changing at a rapid pace — environmentally, socially, and technologically. In the process, global risks such as climate change, rapidly diminishing biodiversity, pandemics, cyber and terrorism threats and risks to energy and food supplies, are emerging and changing their nature. These create a need for citizens, companies, organisations, and societies to become more resilient and an increasing demand for risk professionals with the skills and competencies to anticipate and analyse such risks and to prepare for them.

These challenges require capable, forward-thinking economists who are familiar with the world’s most pressing issues and equipped with the tools to address them. Toulouse School of Economics’s (TSE) Master in Economics of Global Risks is designed to do exactly that.

“There are always new and unexpected risks emerging, as we have recently seen with the war in Ukraine and the disruption in energy supplies,” says programme director Ulrich Hege. “The perspective of the master is to give students the quantitative tools and the broad knowledge to handle any types of risks, through the courses in micro, finance and in extreme value analysis.”

This two-year programme is unique in that combines an emphasis on quantitative skills with the training to understand risk challenges and come up with tools for risk management from an economic perspective, from a management perspective, and from the interdisciplinary perspective required to understand the nature of complex new risks. Tackling new crises requires economists to combine, process and evaluate data from many sources, handle and analyse economic models and risk-management tools, check their robustness, and understand their limitations.

The programme offers training in finance, statistics, econometrics but also in macroeconomics, decisions and risk management. The interdisciplinary immersion is emphasised in courses on “Understanding Global Risks” and “Global Risks for a Living Planet.”.

The result? Graduates are not just conventional risk professionals but are ready to tackle complex, new challenges. “Students will have the skills sought after by private companies — such as reinsurers, insurance brokers for banks, companies in energy or infrastructure — and also public employers such as central banks or regulators since TSE graduates have an additional perspective that is lacking from most finance-oriented risk management programmes,” says Hege.

Such tailored programmes are common at TSE. As a thriving centre for world-renowned research in economics, TSE has over 30 years of experience in encouraging, building and developing resilient and progressive minds in the field. Today, it frequently works with organisations and policy-makers to provide solutions in key economic and social challenges from its campus in France.

Another such programme is the one in Environmental Economics and Policy.

It covers various aspects of the world’s most pressing environmental problems, such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity erosion, and more. Courses are specifically tailored to give students an understanding of environmental problems and when regulation is necessary to address these problems, and cover how public policies (such as taxes, emission trading schemes, labels and standards) can be created and designed to efficiently reduce negative impacts on the environment.

“The programme provides students with the analytical skills to assess, analyse and recommend economic policies and strategies to tackle environmental issues and manage natural resources, which are useful skills in sectors such as energy, transportation, health, developing countries, and biodiversity conservation,” share Henrik Andersson and Marion Desquilbet, the two programme co-directors. “Hence, the aim of the programme is to develop the students’ analytic skills and critical thinking, which should be useful when the world changes.” Students can choose a more traditional environmental economics profile, or one that focuses more on ecology, ecosystems and biodiversity.”

Other programmes are designed to explore the latest developments in empirical methodologies to perform economic analysis in many fields. One example is the Master in Econometrics and Empirical Economics. Here, students from more scientific backgrounds are given the chance to ground themselves in a solid culture in of econometrics methods, as well as various related fields of applied economics.

Why is this master’s programme different from a master’s programme in Data science? “These differ from a [regular] master’s degree in Data Science as it focuses on providing econometric and empirical analysis tools to perform deep studies about economic topics,” says assistant professor Catherine Cazals. “It is oriented towards the application of empirical tools to economic topics, for which the construction of the causal economic model upstream, the collection of data and the interpretation of results downstream are important.”

Then there’s the Master in Public Policy and Development — which acts as a starting point for students who wish to tackle the most pressing concerns in public debate. This includes those in education, health, democracy, foreign aid, governance, human development, infrastructure, and more. The outcome? Well-trained students who can effectively combine state-of-the-art analytical tools with the knowledge they gain through applied economics and multidisciplinary courses.

“On the analytical side, the programme focuses on courses to train students in conducting Randomised Control Trials, Applied Microeconometrics methods of causal inference with observational data, and to use statistical software packages,” shares programme director Josepa Miquel-Florensa. “On the applied side, economic courses in regulation and infrastructures together with multidisciplinary courses on economic history, political science, and sociology of institutions teach students to find solutions to current world issues.”

“To understand the challenges of public policy, especially in developing countries, to be well trained technically, and to be able to apply and understand the results is key” says Miquel-Florensa. “The programme offers students, on top of economic and methods courses by TSE faculty, courses on economic history, political science, and sociology of institutions. This gives them a well-rounded view of the problems of the changing world.”

This, in essence, is the most valuable takeaway from an education at TSE: graduating with the capability and knowledge to work to improve the most pressing areas in society. Graduates go on to address issues in education, health, environment, democracy, foreign aid, human development, infrastructure, politics, technology, finance or insurance – the possibilities are endless. Most importantly, they build meaningful careers that contribute to the societies around them – a result of their time at TSE.

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