My name is Jaco Schipper. On 23rd of October 1979 I was born in Leiden, the Netherlands. After finishing primary school in Valkenburg, a small town next to Leiden, I went to highschool in Leiden. After graduating high school in 1998, I went as an 18-year old to Utrecht to become a student at the University Utrecht.
After suspending my study twice, I graduated in August 2007, holding a Master’s degree in international economics and economic geography. After finishing my fixed curriculum in 2002, I suspended my study to head the board of student society Biton in the academic year of 2002-2003. A year I dearly remember.
In 2004, after having made preparations to study the regional economic impact of foreign firms in Kenia, the unfortunate news came that my mother suffered a fatal form of cancer. After taking care of her needs for almost a year, my mother passed away September 2005. I decided to finish my study and did so in August 2007.
International Economics & Economic Geography
In the early nineties the study “international economics and economic geography” (IEEG) was initiated at the University Utrecht. The economics sections of the Law, Geography, Psychology and History Departments cooperated to eventually form the Utrecht School of Economics (USE). I enrolled during the first stages of its emergence in 1998.
In the Dutch education-system of that time, students had to get their propaedeutics. As a means to study IEEG, I received my propaedeutics Social Geography. In social geography, the variety of subjects deal with spatial expressions of any human behavior. IEEG specifically focuses on economics and its geographical features.
From economic and mathematical models of micro- and macro-economics to the regional clustering of industrial activities, and overlapping and contradictory insights between these, have been subjects of study. These multiple approaches to economics made my curriculum very colorful and very diverse.
In the second year, mathematical models of micro-, macro- and business economics were central. In the third year, it was all about industrial clustering and economic geographical patterns, whether this concerned local, (supra-)regional, (supra-)national, or global patterns. In the fourth year, students had the opportunity to specialize in a specific domain, with an explicit geographical approach.
Whereas economic theory is mostly concerned with mathematical modeling in order to abstract economic mechanisms, it is geography that focuses on dynamics. Models are static representations of economic reality and offer no, or a very limited degree of room for dynamics to be included.
My choice for a specialization was readily made: globalization. As a young child I was always interested in subjects of general interest to society. To characterize this interest with a question, I questioned how we can make our residence on this planet more comfortable. In the context of economics it is a question of how human kind can achieve a global dispersal of prosperity and well-being.
Studying economics with an adjacent field of research has proved itself a very fascinating education. Beside geographical approaches to economics, I consciously chose to explore historical and psychological approaches to economics. In hindsight, all these years in Utrecht offered me what I hoped to find: a field of research that allowed me to understand this world (slightly) better. Economics is about people, and not so much about mathematical equations. Apparently, you have to learn and understand math to come to this conclusion.