The School of Economic Science
The School of Economic Science has had a long association with the Henry George Foundation. Both organisations have their genesis in the philosophic and economic ideology that everyone owns what they create, but that everything found in nature, most importantly land, belongs equally to all humanity. Today the School offers courses in both economics and philosophy in London and more than 50 other locations throughout the UK.
Leon MacLaren, the founder of the School of Economic Science, joined the Georgist movement in 1931 at the ‘Tax Land Values’ bureau; this had been funded by the widow of Lewis Jacobs, the founder of the Henry George Foundation (HGF). Leon MacLaren was very active in what became known as the ‘Young Group’. His father, Andrew MacLaren MP, had been a longstanding and very active participant in the Henry George movement. From 1933, both father and son served on the executive committee of ‘The English League’ a Georgist organisation supported by the Henry George Foundation.
At the 1936 International Union conference held in London, delegates from the USA’s Henry George School of Social Science impressed everyone with their successful course format. This was based on the work of George R Geiger, a Professor of Philosophy and son of Oscar Geiger, the founder of the US organisation. The US course was conducted through a series of questions, somewhat in the Socratic style. The conference resolved that this style of course would be taken up in the UK by the Henry George Foundation, with Leon MacLaren leading the London courses.
Two different approaches emerged later, leading to Leon MacLaren forming a new organisation, the Henry George School of Economics. Their first public courses were offered to an enthusiastic public in autumn 1937, with continuing support from the HGF and Andrew MacLaren. These expanded in 1938, with the Henry George Fellowship being formed from 100 students who had completed the course. In 1942, the Henry George School of Economics was renamed the School of Economic Science, reflecting a developing difference of emphasis in the teaching.
Leon MacLaren continued to develop the courses, writing ‘The Nature of Society’ as a School of Economic Science text book. The last chapter of this book reflects his search for something not altogether accessible within the realm of economics, which led to an interest in philosophy. After coming in contact with the Study Society in 1953, he discovered the teachings of Ouspensky and his teacher Gurdjieff. He was taken by the similarities between diagrams developed for the economics courses and those used by Ouspensky.
The first public courses in philosophy started in 1955, at a time when interest in economics courses was diminishing; this was immediately successful. Since then, the School of Economic Science has expanded to many centres in the UK and affiliations around the world have developed.
The arrival of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in London in 1961 brought the next stage of development, meditation. The School of Economic Science organised his Albert Hall appearance in that year. Meditation was soon taken up by all the senior students of the School.
Closer contact with eastern philosophy was established in 1965, with significant meetings taking place between Leon MacLaren and Sri Shantananda Saraswati; these continue through both of their successors Donald Lambie and Sri Vasudevananda Saraswati.
Philosophy Studies studies continue. Introductory courses in practical philosophy, designed to be of real value in everyday life in their own right, are offered three times a year. For those wishing to continue their enquiry, further philosophy classes are available to study more deeply, and, after a time, to practise meditation. Other subjects are studied from time to time, some available as public courses. The studies in art led to the founding and subsequent support of Art in Action, a major annual arts festival organised and run by people studying in the School of Economic Science.
Economics with Justice:
The courses in economics have been re-inspired through the philosophical studies and fresh explorations of the fundamental aspects of the work , in particular the importance of natural law. ‘Economics with Justice' courses for the public are offered in London and other locations.
A journal Economic Monitor is published by the faculty, and several back copies are available on-line.
The School of Economic Science provides some support forthe Henry George Foundation through hosting it’s library and various meetings, including the weekly HGF library group meeting, and through co-hosting courses and events.