Themes 273 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.

The Political Economy of Capitalism | INET workshop w Simon Mair, 27 August 2018
CUSP researcher Simon Mair will be presenting research at the forthcoming INET workshop on Political Economy of Capitalism. Titled ‘Capital and Environmental Crisis: insights from Adam Smith’, the paper sets out to explain two stylised facts of the modern economy: that the economy is becoming more energy efficient but economic growth is still tightly coupled to energy use, and that at a global scale different energy carriers are complements not substitutes.
Dialogues in Turbulent Times | CUSP at 2018 International Degrowth Conference, Malmö, 21-25 Aug
CUSP researchers Simon Mair, Ben Gallant and Ellen Stenslie will be presenting papers at the 6th International Degrowth Conference for ecological sustainability and social equity in Malmö. Apart from being a space for scholarly debates, degrowth conferences aim at promoting cooperation of various groups in the development of scientific, social and political proposals towards ecologically sustainable and socially just transformation.
The Nature of Prosperity: measuring progress; redefining purpose — London, 24 Oct 2018
Confirmed speakers at our fourth Nature of Prosperity event include Kerry Kennedy, human rights lawyer and daughter of RFK, Clive Lewis, Shadow Treasury Minister, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive at the New Economics Foundation, and Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
Business Strategies Beyond Growth | CUSP co-hosting workshops at AOM 2018 in Chicago, 10-14 Aug 2018
In the context of limitations on growth, and an emphasis on sustainability, businesses need to rethink how they operate. This was the challenge being explored in workshops co-hosted by CUSP at the 78th Annual Meeting of the Academy of Management in Chicago, Illinois, USA.
A Cultural Shift towards an Ecological Democracy | Blog by Marit Hammond
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.
Embracing the Unthinkable | Guest blog by Alan Simpson
The UK is becoming an angry, divided and insecure country, Alan Simpson writes. Right now, it doesn’t have to be that bad. But we don’t have much time to play with. Another world is still (just) possible, but we need the courage to build it, now.
Vacancy: Postdoctoral Fellow for CYCLES (University of Canterbury, NZ)
We are seeking a part-time Postdoctoral Fellow to join our NZ based team of researchers working on our international CYCLES study: a study of the lifestyles and embedded experience of young people aged 12-24 in urban communities.
A review of EROEI-dynamics energy-transition models | Journal Paper by Craig Rye and Tim Jackson
The need for an environmentally sustainable economy is indisputable but our understanding of the energy-economy interactions (dynamics) that will occur during the transition is insufficient. This raises fascinating questions on the future of economic growth, energy technology mix and energy availability.
Work: a situation vacant | Blog by Richard Douglas
We need a new defining idea for political economy, writes Richard Douglas. Could we find it in the idea of economic activity as service? (This article originally appeared in Issue 6 of The Mint.)
Growth for the sake of growth | Guest blog by Federico Demaria
“Growth for the sake of growth” remains the credo of governments and international institutions, Federico Demaria finds. The time is ripe, he argues, not only for a scientific degrowth research agenda, but also for a political one. (This article is a transcript of Federico’s address to the European Commission, in preparation of the 2018 Post-Growth conference at the EU Parliament, 18-19 Sept 2018.)
Politics for the ‘New Normal’ | CUSP newsletter July 2018
This July edition of our CUSP newsletter features the first in our new series of policy briefings on An Economy That Works, an upcoming journal article from Marit Hammond, making a renewed case for ecological democracy and Victor Anderson's working paper on protecting the interests of future generations. We have just unearthed the unpublished transcript from our 2016 public meeting of the APPG with Caroline Lucas, Jørgen Randers, Graeme Maxton, Kate Raworth and Federico Demaria discussing the End of Growth. It still makes for fascinating reading.
Protecting the Interests of Future Generations | Working Paper No 14
Even the most perfect democracy can only represent the wishes of people currently alive. But how can the interests of members of future generations be safeguarded in political systems? This paper outlines different ways in which this could be achieved through reforms to the UK political system, and then looks in more detail at examples in other countries.
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.
Beyond 5%: why autonomy matters for workers’ wellbeing | Blog by Simon Mair
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.
How hard is it to score the seventeenth goal? | Blog by Victor Anderson
Partnerships are central to the achievement of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) but partners need to be proactive and willing. Summarising our recent contribution to the first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs, Victor Anderson explains why the UK’s progress has so far been limited as a result.
Monetising nature: a metaphor too far? | Blog by Aled Jones
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.
Understanding the ‘New Normal’—The Challenge of Secular Stagnation | An Economy That Works, Briefing Paper No 1
This first in our series of briefing papers on building An Economy That Works explores the underlying phenomenon of ‘secular stagnation’ – a long-term decline in the rate of growth of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The paper examines the evidence, explores the causes and discusses the implications of what some now call the ‘new normal’.
Exploring the natural capital debate—Creating a space for conversation about conservation across boundaries? | Blog by Fergus Lyon
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).
Everything is extraordinary: Prosperity and the qualities of attention | Guest blog by Dan Nixon
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?
Rebound Mitigation — Environmental policy making in the context of rebound effects | Seminar w David F Vivanco, 19 July 2018
In this talk, David will introduce preliminary results of the Effective environmental policies in Europe in the context of rebound effects (EFFECT) project, which aims at developing an innovative analytical framework for capturing rebound effects.
Measuring Up – how the UK is performing on the SDGs | Report
UKSSD publishing first comprehensive assessment of the UK’s performance against the SDGs. With support from CUSP on SDG 17, highlighting a significant danger of the UK quality of life getting worse if action is not taken.
Making Tomorrow Work | CUSP Newsletter June 2018
‘The past is not always a reliable guide to future performance’ – so they say. But sometimes it can hide surprising lessons.
The Return of Character: Parallels Between Late-Victorian and Twenty-First Century Discourses | Journal Paper by Nick Taylor
There has been an increasingly common trend in the UK to identify character skills and traits as the basis for various individual successes and achievements. In education policy and employment services, character has been linked to the making of successful, morally aware, employable and socially mobile citizens. This article explores the late-19th-century use of character discourses, focusing on the economist Alfred Marshall.
Katniss Everdeen, Utopia, and The Future of Work | Blog by Simon Mair
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.
The Future of Work—Lessons from the History of Utopian Thought | Working Paper No 13
This paper aims to contribute towards the development of a political economy of work fit for purpose in a world of social and environmental limits. In order to get beyond today’s dominant conceptions of work in a growth-based capitalism, Simon Mair, Angela Druckman and Tim Jackson explore the role of work in historical utopias.
Enjoyable, meaningful lives without economic growth or jobs? | Guest blog by Alison Kidd
How will people live enjoyably and meaningfully in a world of less economic growth? Do the care, craft, culture and creative activities which CUSP is exploring offer a promising alternative prosperity? Behavioural psychologist Alison Kidd recently studied the activities of 325 UK people to find out what they found enjoyable and meaningful to see if she could get clues.
Social Darts | Blog by Mark Ball
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
From stranded workers to enabled workers—Lessons for a successful low carbon economy | Blog by Lucy Stone
From stranded to enabled workers — the transition to renewable, low carbon economies is a huge opportunity to create more stable, healthy sources of employment, a new Agulhas report finds, but it needs smart management. CUSP Fellow Lucy Stone is highlighting some of the key findings.
Climate Justice as economic mobilization | Seminar w Stefan Jacobsen, London 21 June 2018
Drawing on a newly published book, this talk will give a brief outline of the economic ideas that have been central in the buildup of a global movement for Climate Justice (CJ) since the 1990s. Jacobsen argues that although campaigns against the dominance of carbon markets and for divestment strengthened the CJ movement in raw numbers, these approaches also marked a move away from earlier demands for radical equality as part of transitioning away from fossil fuels.
Economic Theory for the Anthropocene | Workshop w Ioana Negru and Gaël Giraud, 3 July 2018
In the 10 years since the financial crisis, heterodox theories of the economy have flourished. On 3 July 2018, as part of a workshop, CUSP and the Institute of Advanced Studies at the University of Surrey are pleased to invite you to two talks by leading economists in the field.
Against all odds? Modelling the low-carbon transition | Blog by Martin Sers
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.
Can a play start a conversation and generate multi-disciplinary projects? | Guest blog by Shirley Wardell
Few people understand how money works, and yet it has a vital part in our lives. In her new theatre play ‘Balance’, former Positive Money consultant Shirley Wardell tries to address this issue by making the topic relevant to people who watch the play — and to those who act in it.
Making Connections | CUSP Newsletter May 2018
Our theme this month is making connections: taking our lead from Sue Venn’s blog on the relationship between the craft (the art of making) and sustainable prosperity. This month also features a blog from Will Davies summarising our collective work across CUSP on the role of utopian thinking. And two papers make economic connections. Martin Sers and Peter Victor’s paper on the energy emissions trap and my new CUSP working paper on the ‘post-growth challenge’.
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-Emissions 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.