"When Guðni Th. Jóhannesson was elected president he made me promise that I and his colleagues in the project "The Economic Crisis, Remember" ( „Hrunið, þið munið“ ) would organize a conference on the 10 year anniversary of the economic collapse in Iceland. We are in fact honouring that promise, but at the same time putting an end to the data acquisition for this project." This is how Jón Karl Helgason, describes the reasons behind the conference that takes place at the University of on 5 and 6 October.
The aim of the conference is to communicate and discuss the results of recent research on the events leading up to the collapse of the Icelandic banking system in 2008 and its aftermath. Numerous research scholars from diverse fields of study, within and outside of the University, have studied the economic collapse in their research ever since Geir H. Haarde, Prime Minister at the time, uttered the phrase "God bless Iceland" on 6 October 2008. There are around 100 talks in over 20 seminars on the agenda discussing the extensive changes and serious impact of economic collapse to Icelandic society, as well as the lessons that can be learned from it. All five University Schools and the Rector's Office are represented in the organizing committee. These are: Berglind Rós Magnúsdóttir (School of Education), Jón Karl Helgason (School of Humanities), Kristín Loftsdóttir (School of Social Sciences), Magnús Diðrik Baldursson (Rector's office), Ragnar Sigurðsson (School of Engineering and Natural Sciences) and Rúnar Vilhjálmsson (School of Health Sciences). Jón Bragi Pálsson is project manager for the Organizing Committee.
The idea for the conference came from the website "The Economic Crisis, Remember" („Hrunið, þið munið“, launched by Jón Karl and Guðni Th., then a history professor, now the President of Iceland, and other members of faculty in 2015. They had both taught courses at the University of Iceland covering the economic collapse, Guðni within the field of history and Jón Karl in literature. "When I heard about Guðni's course we decided to establish a brand new Icelandic bank, albeit a data bank. The bank originally stored all of our students' coverage of publications linked to the Collapse, such as works of fiction, plays, films, and non-fiction books. However, in the years that followed more and more University lecturers from other University schools have made generous deposits; especially from the School of Social Sciences," says Jón Karl.
The data bank has grown as the years have passed and now includes an overview of laws and regulations; convictions affiliated with the bank collapse; as well as various reports on the matter. This material was gathered by Björg Thorarensen, Law Professor, and Andrés Fjelsted. "The idea behind the data bank is to give the public and research scholars a new perspective and to facilitate further research," says Jón Karl who has had help from many of the University staff, especially Kristín Loftsdóttir, Markús Þórhallsson, Einar Kári Jóhannesson and Xinyu Zhang.
The Conference "The Economic Crisis, Remember" will be opened in the University of Iceland's Aula in the Main Building at 1 P.M. on Friday. The President of Iceland Guðni Th. Jóhannesson will address participants and the keynote speaker, Ralph Catalano, professor in public health at Berkley University in California, will discuss the effects of recessions on public health.
Numerous seminars will be held during the two conference days discussing matters such as protests; literature and the arts in light of the crisis; social inequality following the economic crisis; its impact on health, schooling and, of course, politics in Iceland; the interplay of the economic crisis and tourism in Iceland; and finally the nation’s drawn-out discussion on Icesave. Both domestic and international research scholars, artists and others participate in the conference.
Attendance is free of charge and everyone is welcome. The programme in English can be found here.