Themes 242 posts

The CUSP work programme is organised around five core themes: (M)eaning and moral framings of the good life; the role of the (A)rts and culture in delivering of prosperity; (P)olitical and organisational dimensions of sustainable prosperity; (S)ocial and psychological understandings of the good life; and (S)ystems analysis to explore narratives of sustainable prosperity.

The MAPSS themes are drawn together through collaboration and cross-cutting projects, such as An Economy That Works, Investing In the Future, and our work as secretariat for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth.

CIRCONOMÌA | Circular Economy Festival w Tim Jackson and Kerry Kennedy, Milan/Pollenzo 24-25 May 2018
On 24 and 25 May 2018, Tim Jackson will be joining Kerry Kennedy, human rights lawyer and daughter of Robert Kennedy, for a series of dialogues on prosperity, inequality and human rights at the 3rd Circonomìa festival in Italy. Under the theme of  "growth without prosperity, prosperity without growth", Tim and Kerry will be discussing the legacy of Robert Kennedy's historic speech at the University of Kansans on the failings of measurement and vision that, after 50 years, still haunt both economic policy and our everyday life.
Making connections, experiencing flow, and countering consumption: crafting is more fun with less stuff | Blog by Sue Venn
One of the research projects within CUSP is concerned with how wellbeing can be enhanced through immersing oneself in challenging activities, leading to a state of ‘flow’. BBC Four's recent MAKE! Craft Britain programme is a perfect showcase of that concept. The programme is connecting people to traditional crafts, past and present generations — and, importantly, to those with whom we are crafting.
Defining and promoting carbon literacy | Seminar w Rachel Howell, 28 June 2018
Given government policies and public discourse aiming to change everyday behaviour so as to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, individuals are increasingly encouraged to understand how their activities contribute to such emissions, and how they can reduce their personal carbon footprint. This seminar proposes a definition of 'carbon literacy' and compares this with other, related concepts.
‘Secular stagnation’ meets the ‘GDP fetish’ | Blog by Tim Jackson
Tim Jackson introduces his new CUSP working paper ‘The Post-Growth Challenge’, in which he discusses the state of advanced economies ten years after the crisis. Our attempts to prop up an ailing capitalism have increased inequality, hindered ecological innovation and undermined stability, he argues.
The Post-Growth Challenge — Secular Stagnation, Inequality and the Limits to Growth | Working Paper No 12
Sluggish recovery in the wake of the financial crisis has revived discussion of a ‘secular stagnation’. These conditions have been blamed for rising inequality and political instability. Tim Jackson contests this view, pointing instead to a steadfast refusal to address the ‘post-growth challenge’.
The Energy-missions Trap | Journal Paper by Martin Sers and Peter Victor
The requirement to reduce emissions to avoid potentially dangerous climate change implies a dilemma for societies heavily dependent on fossil fuels. As renewable capacity requires energy to construct there is an initial fossil fuel cost to creating new renewable capacity. An insufficiently rapid transition to renewables, it turns out, will imply a scenario in which it is impossible to avoid either transgressing emissions ceilings or facing energy shortages.
T h i s is not all there is: Thinking utopias as ideas and practices | Blog by Will Davies
'Utopias' is one of the cross-cutting themes in CUSP, spanning our various research programmes. In this blog, Will Davies is reflecting on what the concept of utopia can offer in terms of its prefigurative potential, and how it is informing our interdisciplinary research.
Thinking About Global Prosperity Measures | Seminar with Matthew Davies, 24 May 2018
In recent years the search for post-GDP metrics has spawned a proliferation of composite indexes that aim to measure national prosperity, progress, happiness etc. In this seminar Matthew Davies will briefly introduce these indexes and how they are constructed, and then examine a range of complex issues that surround them.
Confronting inequality: basic income and the right to work | Blog by Tim Jackson
Ten years after the financial crisis, inequality in advanced economies is still rising. Tim Jackson presents the findings of a new CUSP working paper to explore potential solutions.
Chasing Progress | CUSP Newsletter April 2018
Fifty years after Bobby Kennedy’s speech highlighting the limitations of the GDP as a measure of progress, it’s appropriate in this issue to highlight our new working paper outlining a different way of measuring economic welfare – based on ideas from the theory of change literature. A second recent working paper confronts the thorny question of inequality in the face of declining growth rates and explores the potential for (and limits of) redistributive policy options such as the basic income...
Confronting inequality in a post-growth world – Basic income, factor substitution and the future of work | Working Paper No 11
Piketty argued that slow growth rates inevitably lead to rising inequality. If true, this hypothesis would pose serious challenges for a ‘post-growth’ society. Fiscal responses to this dilemma include Piketty’s own suggestion to tax capital assets and more recent suggestions to provide a universal basic income that would allow even the poorest in society to meet basic needs.
Forging connections: Review of The Progress of this Storm and General Ecology | By Richard Douglas
How should we understand the relationship between nature and society, now that we have entered that condition known as the Anthropocene? Two new books offer radically opposing views on this question—though, as Richard Douglas finds, both remain prisoners of post-Kantian metaphysics.
The People’s Projects | Feral Spaces Project shortlisted for Public Voting
The arts and learning project ‘Feral Spaces’ by CUSP Fellow Laurel Gallagher is shortlisted for public voting. The voting is open from 16-30 April. If successful, the Feral Spaces group will provide art activities for young people, using disused local spaces and recycled materials, to promote appreciation of the local environment.
Filling the finance gap for early stage green innovations | Blog by Fergus Lyon
The green economy of the future will be shaped by the innovative enterprises emerging today. But picking the winners of tomorrow is notoriously difficult. Small entrepreneurial businesses wanting to contribute to the transition to a low carbon and sustainable economy may have the desire to scale up, but without the trading track record or the assets for collateral, they may be turned down by banks and other investors.
Can the financial system work for the economy, people & the planet? | Lecture by Nick Silver
The current financial system developed to serve capitalism 1.0, a world of mass employment based on producing physical goods. This world is ceasing to exist – this talk will discuss the trends that are causing the change, and how finance needs to change to serve the economy of the future.
System Error | New documentary w Tim Jackson investigating the paradigm of ‘economic growth’
Why are we so obsessed with economic growth, knowing that it has devastating effects on our finite planet (and ultimately us)? SYSTEM ERROR looks for answers to this principal contradiction of our time and considers global capitalism from the perspective of those who run it.
A Theory of Change Approach for Measuring Economic Welfare Beyond GDP | Working Paper No 10
It is widely acknowledged that GDP is not a suitable measure of economic welfare. In this paper, Simon Mair, Christine Corlet Walker and Angela Druckman propose a novel framework for indicator development: the ‘Theory of Change’ approach — a causal model approach in which the relationships between system inputs, activities, outputs and outcomes of the economy are explicitly articulated, and can be used to identify theoretically sound indicators for economic welfare.
The Politics of Enclaves: Launch of Economic Science Fictions | London, 2 May 2018
Economic Science Fictions is a new volume of essays exploring the overlap between the economic imagination and science fiction, in economics, fiction, design fiction and utopian (and dystopian) political economy. To celebrate the publication of the book, this event will explore the politics of enclaves from the perspective of urban design and science fiction, so as to cast different light on the anxieties and hopes of the present.
The role of government policy in financing early stage green innovation | Journal Paper by R Owen, G Brennan and F Lyon
This paper focuses on the role of the public sector in addressing finance gaps for longer-term investment requirements from seed investment through to early growth commercialisation of green innovation activities. Peer reviewed literature is identified from international studies, complemented by illustrative policy documents where evidence of impact is reported.
Anthropocene Dreams — Review of The Ends of The World | By Jana Bacevic
If the Anthropocene had an intellectual mixtape, The Ends of the World would be a worthy candidate, Jana Bacevic finds. The book presents perspectives on the end of the world beyond the Western-centric view, to include those for whom the world has already ended; providing valuable lessons. 
Economic Science Fictions | Edited by Will Davies
From the libertarian economics of Ayn Rand to Aldous Huxley’s consumerist dystopias, economics and science fiction have often orbited each other. In Economic Science Fictions, CUSP co-investigator Will Davies has deliberately merged the two worlds, asking how we might harness the power of the utopian imagination to revitalise economic thinking.
‘Everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile’ | Blog by Tim Jackson
Fifty years on from Robert Kennedy’s historic speech on the limitations of the GDP at the University of Kansas in March 1968, Tim Jackson reflects on the failings of measurement and vision which still haunt both economic policy and our everyday life.
CUSP Newsletter | March 2018
This edition links to the videos from our Nature of Prosperity event on 16 Feb. You'll find our new green finance report, the culmination of our year long study with the Aldersgate Group, which sets out 30 clear policy recommendations to increase the rate of green finance in the UK. In July, we will be holding a workshop on Economics for the Anthropocene and are inviting papers. We’re also looking for people to take part in our study of work in the cultural sector.
Towards the New Normal — How to Increase Investment in the UK’s Green Infrastructure | Report
Strategic government intervention can maximise opportunities for private green infrastructure investment, our 'Investing in the Future' project report with the Aldersgate Group finds, setting out a full list of recommendations for government and industry.
Green Shoots from the Green Investment Bank, or a lost opportunity? | Blog by Fergus Lyon
The Green Investment Bank (GIB) was the UK government's flagship programme for the green economy. Investing into longterm low carbon infrastructure projects, it was set out to lead by example and attract private funds to follow suit. But what do we know about its actual impact?
Dance Me to the End of Love—An Economics for Tomorrow | Guest blog by Alan Simpson
Any economics that defines the time given to human interaction as negative productivity has lost the plot, Alan Simpson writes in his guest blog. The economy of tomorrow must be built around people and their inbuilt kindness and decency.
Complexity in the global agricultural system | Roberto Pasqualino presenting his latest CUSP/GSI work at Agri World 2018
The complexity of the global agricultural system is a tremendous barrier to the understanding of the impact that policies and business decisions may have on society at both global and national levels. CUSP research fellow Roberto Pasqualino will be presenting the latest work on his world system computer model, testing both climate and policy shocks to assess their possible outcomes and risks in the medium to long term future.
Writing A Better Future | Guest Blog by Denise Baden
Most of us feel it: the future doesn't look too bright. Dark future visions such as the Black Mirror series feed into our anxieties; the global news and climate change discourse create further avoidance. What we need, Denise Baden argues, are positive visions that allow transformative solutions to be showcased and played out—a kind of product placement for sustainability.
Survey: Green investment & Decisions
As part of our System Dynamics work stream, CUSP researcher Sarah Hafner has set up an online survey for investment practitioners to help inform her work on modelling investment decision in a system dynamics framework.
Economic Theory for the Anthropocene—Towards Heterodox Understandings of Sustainable Economies
CUSP and the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey are pleased to announce a call for contributions to a free, one and a half day workshop for researchers to share and discuss their early stage work in heterodox economics. We are inviting contributions that explore heterodox theories of the economy and how they could help us transition to sustainable societies.
Towards the New Normal | Report Launch, 12 March 2018
Increasing private investment in green infrastructure is a crucial way of meeting the UK’s strategic and environmental policy objectives cost-effectively, whilst securing more jobs, and other economic targets. This report by Aldersgate Group and CUSP provides an overview of the challenges and opportunities in the UK’s green finance market and suggests key recommendations for government, businesses and investors.
Carillion may have collapsed, but public-private partnerships can be so much more | Guest blog by Pete Barbrook-Johnson
Concerns around private companies delivering under par public services have long been aired. The collapse of Carillon, a long-standing contractor to the UK government did only worsen the picture. We should take advantage of this public ‘crisis’ in PPP, Pete Barbook-Johnson writes, not to consign them to the neoliberal history books, but to reimagine and improve them.
Sustainable What, Why, and for Whom: Learning from Moral Philosophy | Blog by Will Davies
These are turbulent times, the fault lines within modern capitalism are widening. Yet, Will Davies finds, where one economic model becomes less certain, we can open up a much wider range of questions about what progress, prosperity and welfare actually mean: this is the right moment to interrogate the meaning and moral dimensions of prosperity.
There’s no political pressure to act on climate. So how are MPs responding? | Blog by Rebecca Willis
The electorate are not asking their representatives to act on climate change, research by CUSP fellow Rebecca Willis indicates. This presents a fundamental dilemma for politicians who understand the urgency. How can they square this circle?
Green infrastructure: the landscape of sustainability | Guest blog by Michael Wilkins
Sustainable infrastructure is key to the low-carbon transition, Michael Wilkins argues in this guest blog — it mitigates the effects of climate change and helps protect communities from its impact. Unlocking private finance for this will be vital.
Promethean Planetary Care – Review of Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade | by Nick Taylor
What if geoengineering were envisaged as a utopian project of care? Oliver Morton’s The Planet Remade is a call for enlightened readership. It is an invitation to step up our thinking on the ethical questions around geoengineering.
Measuring up – how the UK is performing on the SDGs | CUSP leading research on Goal 17
CUSP working with UKSSD cross-sector network, developing first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the UN Sustainable Development Goals
Everyday Culture and the Good Life | Working Paper No 9
The purpose of this paper is to prepare the ground for a strand of work in CUSP which aims to look at the role of culture in everyday life, and in doing so to understand how it might operate as an element of sustainable prosperity. The paper considers the basis on which we might start to think about new legitimations for cultural policy and a fuller understanding of its potential for living well with less.
Nature of Prosperity Dialogue: Ethics and Utopias | London, 16 February 2018
CUSP and the William Morris Society are delighted to invite you to a joint symposium on the Nature of Prosperity. The event will offer an afternoon of philosophical conversations on the themes of ethics and Utopian thinking, and how they can inform concepts of sustainable prosperity.
Nature On The Page — Wildlines @ The Leeds Library w Kate Oakley, 15 Mar 2018
On 15 March 2018, CUSP researcher Kate Oakley will be joining an expert panel of writers and naturalists to explore the process of putting our experience of the natural world down on paper. Who gets to write about nature, and why? Is there a place for politics in nature writing? Does the north have the nature-writing it deserves? And why does nature writing matter?