On September 7, ISET hosted the president and executive chairman of the Ayn Rand Institute, Dr. Yaron Brook, for a presentation. The topic of the presentation was Free Speech and The Battle for Western Culture. During the presentation, Dr. Brook explained why and in what ways free speech is under attack and why it is important to defend this fundamental right.

At the beginning of the presentation, Dr. Brook highlighted that free speech is a core value of civilization, and is what Western civilization stands for. One of the most important events in the history of civilization was the adoption of the Declaration of Human Rights, the first political document that recognizes human rights. However, he claimed that there has been years is an obvious restriction of free speech in recent years: Newspapers cannot publish cartoons relevant to the news, just because they fear violent reprisals; Dr. Brook also claimed there were even greater restrictions of free speech at universities, which cannot invite speakers if the guests do not hold common political views.

On the 25th of May, ISET was pleased to host the environmental economist and founder of the consultancy company GIST Advisory, Pavan Sukhdev, for a presentation. Starting his career as a physicist, Mr. Sukhdev got interested in the challenges of environment protection. This led him to investigate economics, particularly aiming at understanding the significance of businesses as a driver of the changes that we see around us as well as third party impacts, which are known as externalities in economics. Mr. Sukhdev highlighted corporate externalities as being the “biggest free lunch in human history”. Created by private companies, externalities cause huge damages. Companies earn profits at the expense of public losses, reaching from 10 to 15 trillion dollars or 15-20% of global GDP. A study by the NGO “Trucost” found that in 2010 five sectors, namely electricity, oil and gas, industrial metals and mining, food and construction are responsible for about 60% of environmental cost. Yet, as pointed out by Mr. Sukhdev, the private sector operates in the scope of legal framework and can therefore be influenced and regulated by the society.

ISET continues its student policy paper seminar series for the institute's second-year students. This time, Ketevan Bochorishvili, Natia Maisuradze, Nami Surguladze, Orkhan Suleymanli and Nijat Guliyev presented their joint paper on agricultural development.

The students opened by that the slow growth in agricultural sector of Georgia is a subject of ongoing debate. Their cross comparison of agricultural indicators showed that while agricultural development in Georgia predictably lags behind that of Germany and the United States, it also falls behind Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, and the Kyrgyz Republic. While 50 percent of employment is in agriculture, agriculture accounts for just 10 percent of the country's GDP, which clearly shows the utter inefficiency of agriculture in Georgia.

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