Newswise — Nobel Laureate Paul Romer will deliver a virtual lecture, “Progress Is Possible...If We Are Willing and Able to Make Course Corrections,” on Tues., Oct. 27 at 5:30 p.m.

Bad news is sometimes a warning that our current course is based on a miscalculation, Romer observes, and at these crucial junctures, perseverance would send us on a march of folly. 

“My work on the economics of ideas gives me confidence that progress is always possible, even when the news is grim,” he says. “The world presents us with possible paths forward that there will always be some that let us move forward. But each one works only for a while. The complexity that generates these possibilities makes it impossible for any person or group to chart a course that will be viable in the distant future. At best, our calculations will be approximately right for a brief period of time.” 

Romer posits that the only way forward is an infinite cycle of “try and revise.” This cycle, he contends, requires a pragmatism informed by imagination, courage, and humility.

“Imagination helps us see new possibilities,” he notes. “Courage lets us try them when we are uncertain. Having committed, humility prepares to revise as new evidence comes in.” 

To illustrate this approach in the large and small, Romer, in his talk, will suggest some course corrections that market economies could make and explain why he changed jobs so many times in his career. 

Romer, an economist and policy entrepreneur, is a co-recipient of the 2018 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences and has spent his career at the intersection of economics, innovation, technology, and urbanization, working to speed up human progress. Romer previously served as the chief economist at the World Bank, where he worked to advance the multilateral institution’s critical research function. He is the founding director of NYU’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, which works to help cities plan for their futures and improve the health, safety, and mobility of their citizens, as well as the founder of the Charter Cities initiative, which introduced a framework designed to help traditionally disenfranchised populations share in the benefits of rapid urbanization. A more complete biography for Romer, who holds an appointment in NYU’s College of Arts and Science, is available at

An RSVP is required by emailing Zoom coordinates will be sent to attendees the day of the event.

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