If you are interested in innovation and have $1,500 to spare, the place to be the next few days will be at a conference at the Haas School of Business.

The Economist magazine is hosting the gathering, titled Innovation: Fresh Thinking for the Ideas Economy. With its impressive collection of leading thinkers, authors, journalists, academics, designers and businessmen, the conference aims to “expand or overturn established thinking about what innovation is, where it comes from, and how to make it work.

The centerpiece of the event will be an Oxford-style debate. (The Economist is a British magazine after all: none of this Berkeley-give-and-take will quite do.) Using the proposition that government is the engine of innovation, Robert Reich, the former labor secretary, Tyler Cowen, a libertarian economist and blogger, John Perry Barlow, the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Shirley Ann Jackson, president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will debate one another.

In other forums, Jared Diamond, the author of Guns, Germs and Steel, will talk, as will blogger and author Arianna Huffington, the author Scott Berkun, Christina Romer, Obama’s chair for the Council of Economic Advisors, Larry Brilliant, president of Skoll Global Threats Fund, and many others.

Update 3.23.10/16.13: The conference runs through tomorrow and can be followed on Twitter (#ideaseconomy); The Economist is also blogging the conference (hat tip: reader Tim).

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Frances Dinkelspiel, Berkeleyside and CItyside co-founder, is a journalist and author. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant Named Isaias Hellman Created California, published in November...