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Defend Diversity of Economic Ideas: Reappoint Lecturer Summa at the University of Vermont

This petition had 699 supporters

“John’s strength as a teacher is well known by all in the Student Affairs Division of the Dean's Office. He is a strong, caring and knowledgeable instructor who takes genuine interest in his students. – Patty Corcoran, Associate Dean, UVM College of Arts and Sciences.

The field of economics is in an existential crisis. Mainstream economics has been unable to offer viable long-run solutions to today’s problems: the tendency toward economic stagnation, the increasing frequency of financial crises, widening inequality and environmental degradation. Yet undergraduate and graduate economic classes throughout the world continue teaching standard models that have become largely discredited, abandoned by even some leading members of the mainstream tradition.

Lecturer John Summa is one of the brave economists that questions the conventional models inside the classroom. By teaching students alternative branches of economics, Lecturer Summa is empowering future economists to think about the economy in a more complete manner. But despite Lecturer Summa's popular standing among students and excellent teaching record, the University of Vermont (UVM) has refused to renew his teaching contract. This denial of reappointment took place despite a unanimous 5-0 vote by UVM’s own independent Faculty Standards Committee, which reviewed his case.

As a former student of Lecturer Summa, I was shocked and upset when I heard that the University was not renewing his contract. I was deeply influenced by his ability to present alternative economic perspectives. Lecturer Summa did not try to convince me of any single point of view. Instead, he encouraged me to think critically about economics, and therefore, decide for myself what to believe. Please join me in signing this petition that demands the University of Vermont reappoint this valuable teacher. Stand with Lecturer Summa, because voices like his need to be heard, but are becoming fewer in number just when we need them the most. 

“I found John to be a perceptive and self-reflective student of teaching. He was experimenting with some interesting games…getting students out of the classroom for projects, and teaching creatively in general.” – Alec Ewald, Former UVM Honors College Interim Associate Dean

“Professor Summa encourages his students not to passively accept what is taught to them, but to ask questions and be skeptical. His classes taught me to approach readings and research with a critical eye, and made me more able to build well-thought out, defensible arguments.” – Sophia Billias, William Gerston Award Winner, UVM Class of 2015

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