Our systematic failure to address existential anxiety robs society of meaning and blinds us to the suffering of others; to persistent poverty; to the extinction of species; to the health of global ecosystems. With this think piece, Tim Jackson adds to an eclectic set of essays, published in honour of Wolfgang Sachs.
With so much attention focused on what agreements come out of COP24, protesters should be seizing the initiative to attack the root causes of climate change, CUSP PhD researcher Christine Corlet-Walker finds. (This blog first appeared on The Conversation, 30 Nov 2018).
Richard Douglas introduces his new CUSP working paper, in which he uses ‘Listening Rhetoric’ to attend to the moral vision which environmental sceptics are keen to defend. The key to understanding their rejection of environmentalism—and doing more to counter the appeal of their arguments—lies in recognising their preoccupation with defending a moral vision of modernity, he argues.
XR is a rather potent campaign, CUSP researchers Joost de Moor, Brian Doherty and their colleague Graeme Hayes find, yet creating a movement that can have the impact XR aims for will require confronting the political as well as the moral challenges posed by climate change. (This blog first appeared on the openDemocracy website, 27 Nov 2018).
Grassroots activism is widely considered a vital element in society’s shift to becoming more just and ecologically balanced. What is it about certain places/cities that makes them more conducive to the emergence and sustainability of environmental activism?
Since 2016, CUSP Fellow Laurel Gallagher has been developing youth-led placemaking projects in semi-wild disused urban spaces. Workshops invite young people to explore disused spaces, re-imagining them for their own purposes while experts bring the tools and skills needed to transform young people’s ideas into reality. In this blog, Laurel summarises a few of the project findings.
As the negative well-being effects of materialistic lifestyles continue to be documented, it is crucial that we start to uncover ways of living well that do not rely so heavily on material inputs. Summarising her recent journal article with Birgitta Gatersleben and Tim Jackson, Amy Isham considers how choosing to invest our attention and effort into the creation of flow experiences might be able to help us to achieve sustainable prosperity.
Right before the calendar moved into autumn, we hosted our second CUSP summer school, bringing together young researchers for three days to share ideas, build friendships and have conversations that cut across (and sometimes challenge) the academic disciplines and experiences. In this short blog, Ellen Stenslie shares a few reflections.
Democracy – as the political embodiment of a commitment to listening to the whole society equally, and facilitating fair participation in shaping its future – is not an inconvenience, but the only conceivable foundation for sustainable prosperity.
A recent trial of 4 day week in New Zealand inspired a 5% increase in life satisfaction. As celebrated as the results are, such measures are unlikely to contribute sufficiently towards more sustainable economies, Simon Mair argues, reflecting on the limits of such reforms within our current system. He wonders what it might take to get beyond 5% to something more utopian.
Natural Capital Valuation is a fiercely debated approach to account for nature in business and management decision processes. A new report by Aled Jones and colleagues finds that without extra checks in place to accompany the valuation frameworks, there is a real risk that biodiversity loss actually worsens as monetisation tools are embedded — and that they are not being used as intended.
The search for innovative ways of tackling sustainability and conservation challenges while supporting local communities and livelihoods has brought together a group of researchers from Colombia, Mexico, Peru and the UK. Summarising the workshop, Fergus Lyon is reflecting on how the concept of natural capital can be used (and abused).
The way we pay attention affects our wellbeing and our relationships. But it also connects to our freedoms, our political decisions and our deeper sense of purpose. This post considers: what is the link between our attention and our prosperity?
What is the future of work in a world of social and environmental limits? Drawing lessons from utopian fiction, and introducing the latest CUSP working paper, Simon Mair wonders if we can avoid ending up in the Hunger Games.
Leisure doesn’t always make business sense, and success doesn’t mean turning a profit. Against the logic of expansion and abundance, Stoke has something major metropolitan cities do not, Mark Ball finds. His research looks at the connections between leisure, wellbeing and sense of place — and currently involves playing a lot of darts
Can renewable energy supply grow rapidly enough to both, cover societies growing energy needs and displace fossil fuel use sufficiently to keep carbon emissions below some “safe” level? — the leading question of a recent CUSP paper in Ecological Economics. In this blog, Martin Sers is summarising the findings.
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.
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.
‘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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
Risk is our society’s dominant way of governing the future in order to tame uncertainty. This is the case not only for financial crises but also for our responses to global environmental crises. The dominant risk management approach focusses on the prospect of financial devaluation and instability induced by climate change. But the kinds of calculation that are ultimately most pressing relate to how we might consider the financial system as an ecological regime itself.
What can prosperity possibly mean in a world of environmental and social limits? This question lies at the heart of CUSP’s five year research programme on sustainable prosperity. We wanted to know how ordinary people in different contexts might answer this question, so we set out to ask them. What we found was fascinating.
While some investors put pressure on some companies to act in a more sustainable or socially just way, as yet this is at the margin. In this post, Charles Seaford suggests that this pressure could move centre stage, and that changes to, and clarifications of, fiduciary duty could play a part in this.
The people who make our clothes are paid very low wages. We instinctively feel that this is unfair, but it can be hard to articulate why this is. Even harder, is saying what can be done about it. Summarising his recent journal article with Tim Jackson and Angela Druckman, Simon Mair uses the living wage as a basis for claims about fairness, and discuss regional collective bargaining as a solution to unfair wages.
As the full extent of the damages from recent natural disasters are calculated across the Caribbean and the Southern United States and Lloyds of London begins paying out $4.5bn of claims, there is a stronger argument than ever to invest in natural capital as a way of improving resilience, Alex White finds.
In the UK, community health and wellbeing services are experiencing pressures of increasing need and resource constraints. A new CEEDR publication in Research Policy shows how social enterprises can develop innovative responses to help address the challenges faced.
The question of whether it is possible to live better by consuming less is a central one for CUSP. In order to answer this we need a rich understanding of the meanings that ‘stuff’ has in our lives. In this research log, Kate Burningham and colleagues offer insights into their analytical work in progress, summarising initial observations from a recent qualitative interview project with ten 18-22 year olds.
Rapid developments in technology and unpredictable economies are destabilising employment as we know it. What are the possible solutions? It’s not the demand for human labour that is disappearing, Tim Jackson argues, but the institutions and economics to deliver it.
Sustainable prosperity is underpinned by the principle that value creation and increased quality of life can both be decoupled from resource use – making the circular economy a key aspect. In this blog, CUSP research fellow Geraldine Brennan summarises some of her recent findings.
Dematerialisation of the economy – more value from each unit of ‘stuff’ – is a well-established trend in developed countries. Can food retailers and their supply chains accelerate this trend, CUSP co-investogator Charles Seaford asks, or will government have to intervene?
Stoke-On-Trent has set itself an ambitious task with its bid for UK City of Culture 2021. Should it be awarded the promising title then it will face a number of competing priorities and tensions, Jonathan Ward comments on the recent shortlisting, and the city should take it seriously.
The recently published climate risk recommendations by the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD) have been met with high-level and cross-sectoral buy in. The UK government should take note, Alex White argues, and ensure to develop national reporting requirements in line with these best practices.
The social economy has many roles to play in tackling poverty, building inclusivity and promoting sustainability. Ian Vickers summarises recent findings that show its potential is not being fully realised in the UK, despite the opportunities provided by the devolution agenda in cities and other local areas.
The new government will need to have an ambitious and stable low carbon policy at the heart of its project to support the UK’s competitiveness and deliver export opportunities for its businesses, argues Nick Molho, CUSP co-investigator and executive director of the Aldersgate Group.
As part of its involvement in CUSP, the Aldersgate Group is launching a one-year project to understand how to increase private investment in green infrastructure. In her blog, project lead Alex White explains how we will be looking at the most material barriers and considering the solutions to incentivise greater investment in the projects that will underpin the UK’s upcoming policy packages.
Documentary photographer and CUSP fellow Kerstin Hacker is investigating the developing consumer culture of Lusaka (Zambia) and examines photographically the emergence of a new cultural sector. Her project is set out to enable artists to participate meaningfully in the debate around sustainability and prosperity of the sector and the country as whole. In this blog she introduces her work.
At CUSP we’re looking at sustainable finance from various angles. By combining transdisciplinary perspectives, we aim to provide a richer understanding of investment and shed light on issues that have hampered the development of a green economy and more sustainable forms of prosperity.
Climate change is not an easy subject for politicians – they have to turn scientific consensus about the need for action into a workable agenda that can win people’s support. But how do politicians go about this? In this blog, CUSP fellow Rebecca Willis summarises her research findings.
Prosperity isn’t just about earning more and having more, it consists in our ability to participate meaningfully in the life of society. A vital element, Tim Jackson argues, that has gone missing for ordinary people over recent decades. We must question the fundamental structures behind our economies before they will work for everyone.
“When an idea is sketched on a page, it can be examined and discussed much more easily than when it merely exists in people’s heads.” In this blog, CUSP Fellow James McKay introduces his recent project: A dream of a low carbon future.
In this blog, Research Fellow Craig Rye introduces a set of novel analysis techniques, drawn from ecology and physics, to better understand the changing behaviour of recessions and the business cycle (recession cycle) in historical GDP datasets.
The Agenda 2030 forms an ambitious set of long-run goals. Yet, for those most affected, the year 2030 seems like a very long time in the future. How can we make the most of it and involve kids in the SDGs task, Sue Venn asks, reflecting on her participation at a recent Global Goals conference at Ken Stimpson Community School.
Small and medium sized enterprises are a dominant part of the global economy but get less attention than larger corporates in discussions about environmental issues. This opens up a fascinating debate, Fergus Lyon finds, about their role both within the ‘green growth’ agenda and the vision for ‘post-growth’ or steady state economics.
In this blog Angela Druckman explains how CUSP is collating visions of the future, and exploring which types of economic systems may make the achievement of sustainable prosperity more plausible.
To coincide with the launch of a new All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth, Tim Jackson discusses the continuing relevance of the Club of Rome’s groundbreaking report in today’s context and introduces Limits Revisited, a new review of the debate, co-written with environmental writer Robin Webster.
What does the ‘good life’ actually mean to people and how are their visions and aspirations informed by aspects of their social, economic and environmental situation? In this blog, co-investigator Kate Burningham explains how CUSP is approaching research into the social and psychological understandings of the good life.
A shift towards a sustainable prosperity must ultimately be a shift in values, and needs to be understood as such, co-investigator Dr Will Davies writes in this blog, setting out the work programme for our research theme on the meaning and moral framing of the good life.
Arts are communicators of a message, but are an element of sustainable prosperity itself, too, co-investigator Prof Kate Oakley writes in this blog, explaining our research approach to understanding the role of the arts and culture in developing visions for a sustainable prosperity.