Themes 336 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.

Beyond the choke hold of growth: post-growth or radical degrowth?—Tim Jackson in conversation with Giorgos Kallis
The 2018 Post-Growth conference at the European Parliament marked a milestone in the history of the post-growth debate. In this interview, Riccardo Mastini discusses the possibilities and challenges for imagining a world beyond growth with two key post-growth thinkers—Tim Jackson and Giorgos Kallis. 
Social Innovation: Local Solutions to Global Challenges | CUSP at #ISIRC2019 conference
Fergus Lyon leading a conference stream at the 2019 International Social Innovation Research Conference (ISIRC) in Glasgow. The conference organisers invite abstracts for papers and panel proposals—closing date for submissions: 28 Feb 2019.
SMEs and Climate Change—the Communication Challenge | Webinar w Chris Shaw, Tina Fawcett, Sam Hampton and Richard Blundel, 28 Feb
Small and medium-sized enterprises face many competing pressures—so how can we encourage owners and managers to engage with the issue, and re-position their businesses for a lower carbon future? Join us at this lunchtime webinar for practical advice on communicating more effectively with (and within) SMEs. The webinar is part of the ESRC Growing Greener project, co-led by CUSP Fellow Richard Blundel, with advisory support from CUSP Deputy Director Fergus Lyon.
Vacancy: Researcher in Productivity Mapping
CUSP researchers are leading a team from the University of Surrey and the University of Loughborough to map links between energy and productivity in the UK. We are looking to recruit a research assistant to review the existing literature on energy and productivity in a UK context.
Helping the dairy processing sector go ‘green’
CUSP Co-Investigator Angela Druckman, along with her Surrey colleagues Devendra Saroj from Civil and Environmental Engineering and Rosie Cole of Surrey Business School, have supported Food Forward Ltd in a successful funding bid.
Circular economy must remain a priority for Europe beyond the 2019 elections | Blog by Nick Molho
The Circular Economy Package and Plastics Strategy have set a high-level framework to improve the resource efficiency of the European economy. But to be effective, this framework must remain a policy priority for the next European Commission and Parliament, argues Nick Molho.
The Burning Question | BBC World Service Debate w Tim Jackson and Michael Liebreich
In Autumn 2018, CUSP Director Tim Jackson responded to an essay by Michael Liebreich, sparking a month-long debate on social media. BBC Business Daily brought Tim and Michael together to discuss the 'burning question' face-to-face: Is eternal economic growth feasible (and desirable) on a finite planet?
System Error | 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.
Hugh Montefiore and our present moment | Blog by Richard Douglas
The hypothesis Richard Douglas is investigating in his CUSP research is that political resistance to environmentalism stems in part from a defence of modern ideas of infinity. The notion that there are inescapable limits to material progress, he argues, threatens the modern faith in humanity’s ability to control its own fate and journey into an unbounded future.
Managing Without Growth—Slower by Design, Not Disaster (2nd edition) | By Peter Victor
Revised second edition of Peter Victor's influential book. Human economies are overwhelming the regenerative capacity of the planet, this book explains why long-term economic growth is infeasible, and why, especially in advanced economies, it is also undesirable. Simulations developed with Tim Jackson, show that managing without growth is a better alternative.
Higher Wages for Sustainable Development? | Journal Paper by Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson
In this paper, Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson explore how paying a living wage in global supply chains might affect employment and carbon emissions: Sustainable Development Goals 8 and 13.
Investment for a sustainable and inclusive economy—Proposed changes to UK law | Report
Delivering an effective investment industry has been largely delegated by politicians to regulatory bodies, on the assumption that the measures needed have little relevance to wider social and economic issues. Charles Seaford argues that this assumption is false, and that politicians could usefully consider what may have been seen as purely technocratic issues.
The Politics of Selection | Journal Paper by Daniel Hausknost and Willi Haas
Institutions for transformative innovation need to improve the capacities of complex societies to make binding decisions in politically contested fields, a new journal paper by CUSP researcher Daniel Hausknost and his colleague Willi Haas argues, proposing the design of novel institutions that integrate expert knowledge with processes of public deliberation and democratic decision-making.
The Paradox of Social Impact Measurement | Seminar w Pablo Munoz, London 27 Feb 2019
Regardless of the established limitations of rendering social phenomenon reliably knowable through measurement, the institutional excitement surrounding social impact is considered to rest upon the capacity to measure and assess its progress. To better understand how social impact can be reliably known, Pablo Munoz and his colleagues study how actors in a pre-rationalized industry understand social impact, and deal with the arrival of measures for social impact.
Could energetic constraints be slowing economic growth? | Seminar w Paul Brockway, Guildford, 7 Feb 2019
Access to cheap and widely available fossil fuels powered global economic growth for over 250 years. However, the last decade has seen a slowdown in the global economy – and people (governments, economists) are looking for answers. Labour productivity is seen as a prime candidate. But are we looking in the wrong place?
System Dynamics Modelling | Workshop, Cambridge 24 Jan 2019
On 24th January, CUSP and the GSI are hosting a workshop on systems dynamics. This will include a presentation by Prof. Jørgen Randers on his new Earth4 global model. The workshop will explore challenges in global and regional systems dynamic modelling of economic, social and environmental systems and in particular we will be looking at some of the challenges encountered in building Earth4.
A Cultural Account of Ecological Democracy | Journal Paper by Marit Hammond
What are the political foundations of an ecologically sustainable society? Can—or must—they be democratic? Absolutely 'yes' Marit Hammond argues, for sustainability is a moving target that requires a reflexive cultural ethos based on democratic values.
Creative Economy: Critical Perspectives | Workshop, Glasgow—1 Mar 2019
Though the creative economy remains a powerful idea in policy circles, concerns about inequality, worker exploitation and the promotion of over-consumption have begun to grow. This one-day workshop looks at some of these concerns, but also at the potential for arts and culture to help us think through these issues and re-frame a more sustainable and human creative economy.
Risk and Uncertainty in the Anthropocene | Call for Abstracts
This conference aims to explore from a multidisciplinary perspective the role of risk and uncertainty in the Anthropocene. It invites papers that explore the specific logics, strategies, forms of knowledge and technologies that different actors are, or should be, using to approach risk and uncertainty.
Circularity Thinking | Book chapter by Fenna Blomsma and Geraldine Brennan
How does one determine which of the many strategies associated with circular economy are appropriate to pursue? In this chapter Fenna Blomsma and Geraldine Brennan apply systems thinking to outline four steps that aid in identifying where and why waste is being generated in the current system, and what the available circular strategies are.
Young lives in seven cities | CYCLES Exhibition, Nov 2018—January2019
In our research we have been listening to young people around the world talk about their everyday lives, including what they like about where they live and what they might like to change. Following our opening on 7 November 2018 as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, the exhibition is on show until the end of January.
How the light gets in | CUSP Newsletter December 2018
We’re delighted to announce that the video coverage from our recent Nature of Prosperity debate is now online. Around the same time we held the second in our series of policy briefings for parliamentarians on the theme of building An Economy that Works, focusing this time on confronting inequality in an era of low growth. A fascinating development over recent weeks has been an increasingly robust online debate between proponents of green growth and those with a more sceptical ‘post-growth’ position. Interesting to see how this debate is bridging some traditional left-right divides.
LowGrow SFC: An ecological macroeconomic simulation model by Tim Jackson and Peter Victor
System dynamics model by Tim Jackson and Peter Victor, developing low carbon and sustainable prosperity scenarios for the Canadian economy out to 2067. The scenarios are not predictions of what will happen, but an exploration of possibilities. Interested readers can explore the implications for themselves in the online beta version of the model.
Escaping the iron cage of consumerism | Blog by Tim Jackson
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.
COP24: climate protesters must get radical and challenge economic growth | Blog by Christine Corlet Walker
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).
The moral vision of environmental sceptics | Blog by Richard Douglas
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.
The Commonplaces of Environmental Scepticism | Working Paper No 17
It is nearly half a century since the Club of Rome’s Limits to Growth report was published. The thesis at its core—that infinite growth is impossible on a finite planet—is a seemingly common sensical proposition. To investigate why the ‘limits to growth’ has not yet led to decisive political action, this paper examines the thought of its most explicit critics in debate, employing Wayne Booth's ‘Listening Rhetoric’, used to understand opposing discourses on their own terms.
The subprime financial crisis—10 years after: Was Hyman Minsky a post-Keynesian economist? | Lecture by Marc Lavoie, London 11 Dec 2018
As the subprime financial crisis erupted in 2008, Wall Street analysts started talking of the Minsky Moment. Widely ignored by mainstream economists until then, Minsky's financial instability hypothesis became enormously popular. In his CUSP lecture, Marc Lavoie will outline the main features of this work and discusses whether Minsky was part of the a post-Keynesian school of thought, or not.
Energy and Economic Growth: Why we need a new pathway to prosperity | Seminar w Tim Foxon, Guildford, 6 Dec 2018
Prof Tim Foxon will present insights for a transition to a sustainable low carbon energy future that can be drawn from a study of the role of energy technologies in historical waves of industrial change, published in his recent book Energy and Economic Growth (2017).
The ‘new’ climate politics of Extinction Rebellion? | Blog by Joost de Moor, Brian Doherty and Graeme Hayes
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).
Post-growth thinking as a resource for a European union of sustainability | Working Paper No 15
The European Union is struggling. One-sided fixation on growth, competitiveness, deregulation and export-orientation have led Europe into deep crisis. The need for climate change mitigation, environmental protection and tackling inequality now present ever bigger challenges to the EU. Starting from a historical perspective, this CUSP paper argues, that post-growth concepts have an enormous potential to re-constitute Europe.
Creative Economy, Critical Perspectives | Cultural Trends Special Issue edited by Kate Oakley and Jon Ward
CUSP researchers Kate Oakley and Jonathan Ward are guest editors of a special edition of Cultural Trends. In exploring how the idea of the creative economy persists since the 1980s, papers engage with the topic on a social, political, economic and/or organisational level.
We need a new common consciousness of what’s necessary and possible to curb climate change. | Guest blog by Teresa Belton
Cultural resistance to the need for a fundamental rethink of the way we conduct life is continuously fed by misleading words of charismatic thinkers such as Rutger Bregman and Steven Pinker, Teresa Belton finds. What we need instead are fresh holistic narratives to create a new common consciousness.
Energy Sufficiency—Managing the rebound effect | Report by Steve Sorrell, Birgitta Gatersleben and Angela Druckman
A new report by former SLRG colleagues Steve Sorrell, and CUSP researchers Brigitta Gatersleben and Angela Druckman examines the nature of rebound effects, and asks the question: can greater use of sufficiency policies and actions help to tackle negative rebounds, or will it create rebounds itself?
Giorgos Kallis’ Degrowth | A review by Sarah Hafner
Rethinking our economic paradigms is an urgent and fundamentally important task. Giorgos Kallis’ new book Degrowth is adding to a joint endeavour of postgrowth thinking, CUSP PhD candidate Sarah Hafner finds. It offers both, a justification as well as a vision and new imaginary for the degrowth agenda.
Young Lives in Seven Cities. A Touring Exhibition. | Catalogue
In each city small groups of young people, aged from 12–24, took photos or drew pictures to illustrate ‘a day in our lives’ and then discussed their images with us, focusing on what they valued and what they would like to change. A CYCLES photo exhibition is on show at The Foundry, in Vauxhall, London (until January 2019). These are their images. This is their story.
Engaging the imagination | Journal paper by Kate Oakley, Jon Ward and Ian Christie
This paper explores the potential of 'new nature writing' – a literary genre currently popular in the UK – as a kind of arts activism, in particular, how it might engage with the environmental crisis and lead to a kind of collective politics.
How the light gets in—The science behind growth scepticism | Blog by Tim Jackson
The Entropy Law still matters. CUSP director Tim Jackson responds to Michael Liebreich’s essay on the ‘The secret of eternal growth’.
A government is not a household | Blog by Frank van Lerven and Andrew Jackson
Claims of ending austerity ring hollow, Frank van Lerven and Andrew Jackson write, until we do away the ‘household fallacy’, and realise that public spending can be deployed as a potent weapon against many of the challenges we face today. (This blog first appeared on the NEF website).
Heat, Greed and Human Need | Seminar with Ian Gough, Guildford 1 Nov 2018
Prof Ian Gough is Visiting Professor at the Centre for the Analysis of Social Exclusion and an Associate at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment. Ian’s latest book, and the focus for this CUSP/CES seminar, is Heat, Greed and Human Need. It offers a powerful analysis of the connections between climate change, economic growth and social policy.