World-renowned French economist, academic, researcher, author, columnist and public intellectual, Prof Thomas Piketty will accept an honorary doctoral degree in Economics – Philosophiae Doctor (Honoris Causa) – from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Friday, 2 October 2015 during a youth engagement at its Auckland Park Kingsway Campus.
The University’s Faculty of Economic and Financial Sciences is conferring the honorary doctoral degree on Prof Piketty, in acknowledgment of his contributions to knowledge concerning issues of inequality and poverty. Prof Piketty will deliver the 13th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, which is hosted by UJ in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
“Inequality is undoubtedly one of the pressing issues of our age, internationally and even more so in South Africa. Inequality is not only an economic problem, but also a political and social one. It is for his work on inequality that Prof Piketty is best renowned. His has garnered international acclaim after his book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, became a best seller and elevated the issue of inequality in both intellectual and policy discourses. The book has had a major impact on academic research as well as political debates, with numerous pieces subsequently published debating his arguments. This research has profound implications for South Africa, as one of the most unequal countries in the world,” says Prof Fiona Tregenna, SARChI in Industrial Development at UJ.
His work traces the rising inequality to the rate of return on capital outstripping growth rates. He draws out the policy implications of these findings, arguing for redistribution through a progressive global tax on wealth.
At just 44 years of age, Prof Piketty is arguably one of the best known academics in the world at present, whose impact has extended well beyond his discipline of economics as well as far beyond the academy. “Prof Piketty powerfully mirrors the guiding principles of the University of Johannesburg – its respect for diversity and human dignity, its call to nurture an inclusive, transforming and critical scholarship, university community, nation and human society,” says Prof Tregenna.
During the youth engagement Prof Piketty will ask students the poignant question – Should we care about inequality?
The Deputy Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, youth development, Mr Buti Kgwaridi Manamela, together with UJ’s Prof Fiona Tregenna (SARChI in Industrial Development) and Prof Chris Landsberg (SARChI inAfrican Diplomacy and Foreign Policy) will facilitate the engagement.