On November 17, 2008, students, faculty, researchers, dignitaries and government officials gathered in the emblematic Agbar Tower in Barcelona for the opening ceremony of the Barcelona GSE.
The event was marked by an inaugural speech by Pascal Lamy, Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), titled "The Economics and Politics of Trade: Inextricably Linked." In it, he detailed the economic underpinning and political realities of international trade, which he describes as “two sides of the same coin.”
The ceremony also featured short speeches by the President of Agbar, Jordi Mercader; the Minister of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government, Cristina Garmendia; the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Catalan Government, Antoni Castells; the Commissioner of Universities and Research, Blanca Palmada; the President of the Barcelona GSE, Andreu Mas-Colell; the Rector of the UPF, Josep Joan Moreso; and the Vice-rector of the UAB, Antoni Méndez. Many prominent figures from the political, academic, and business world of Catalonia and the EU were also in attendance.
WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy addresses the audience
Inspiring Economic Thought
Mr. Lamy began his speech by confiding that the WTO follows “with great interest” the research at the Barcelona GSE, which has inspired many of the WTO economists and was useful in creating the 2008 World Trade Report, "Trade in a Globalised World." As proof, he challenged members of the GSE to “check the number of quotes of your faculty in this now famous publication!”
The rest of Mr. Lamy’s talk centered on what he described as the “inseparability of all aspects of international economic governance.” Speaking at the GSE just two days after the G20 summit in Washington, he emphasized that “managing these linkages effectively and devising multi-faceted solutions is at the center of today’s policy challenges, truly testing the capacity of governments to cooperate effectively with one another.”
In this sense, he said, the Barcelona GSE will be useful in producing the next generation of thinkers ready to tackle the practical policy challenges facing governments. “Institutions such as Barcelona Graduate School of Economics will have a vital role to play in maintaining strong links between conceptually disciplined thought and the challenges of every-day decision-making,” he concluded.
WTO Director General Pascal Lamy (far left) sits next to GSE Director General Eduard Vallory, members of the Cataln Parliament, and the Deputy Mayor of Barcelona
A Promising Year Ahead
Entering its second year of academic operations, the GSE has attracted 126 students—44% more than in the 2007-2008 academic year. The student body is 80% international and represents 30 countries. In addition to increasing the number of matriculated students, the School has also expanded its academic offering in 2008-2009, introducing two new master programs in addition to the four preceding ones.
Throughout the academic year, the Barcelona GSE will continue their research and teaching activity. In addition to the ongoing activity of the GSE Research Network, at the opening ceremony GSE President Andreu Mas-Colell announced the Board of Trustee’s recent decision to dedicate the School’s endowment to attracting top talent to the School. The Barcelona GSE, together with its four founding academic bodies—the UPF, UAB, IAE-CSIC and CREI—creates a leading hub of economics research and teaching in Barcelona and in Europe.
Barcelona GSE students read the annual report of the School as they wait for the ceremony to commence
The “Champions League” of Institutions
In addition to turning out top minds and research in economics, the Barcelona GSE is setting trends in higher education. Cristina Garmendia, the Minister of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government, spoke of the Barcelona GSE as a prime example of the internationalization of universities in Europe, citing the need for graduate programs with a dual "professional and research focus.”
Likewise, Speaking at the opening ceremony, Blanca Palmada, Commissioner of Universities and Research of the Catalan Goverment, called the Barcelona GSE the “jewel” of graduate institutions promoting economics education and research, calling it a “leader” in global education and an inspiration to other programs of its nature.
The combination of “boldness and dynamism” encapsulated by the GSE and combined with its emphasis on “knowledge, education, and human capital” will allow the GSE to “compete in the 'Champions League' of academic institutions,” said Antoni Castells, Minister of Economy and Finances of the Catalan Government. “Barcelona and Catalonia are striving to create new talent and invest in new capital to attract the best talent in the world,” and the Barcelona GSE will “make a big contribution to achieve these goals.”
From left: President of Agbar, Jordi Mercader; the President of the Barcelona GSE, Andreu Mas-Colell; the Minister of Economy and Finance of the Catalan Government, Antoni Castells; the Minister of Science and Innovation of the Spanish Government, Cristina Garmendia; the Commissioner of Universities and Research, Blanca Palmada; the Rector of the UPF, Josep Joan Moreso; and the Vice-rector of the UAB, Antoni Méndez
Politicians, business people, academics and dignitaries from Catalonia and abroad were among the invited guests of the ceremony