With a team of over 50 people, CUSP is a busy research centre, engaged in a variety of projects. We produce working papers, journal articles, blogs and public events, we respond to government enquiries, commission essays, and contribute to the publication of books. CUSP is also involved in numerous research cooperations with other institutions. On this page you’ll find updates from the various engagements of the centre. Subscribe to our monthly newsletter to receive a regular digest in your inbox.
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.
We’re delighted to be joined in Westminster by Kerry Kennedy, US human rights lawyer and daughter of RFK, Clive Lewis MP, Shadow Treasury Minister, Miatta Fahnbulleh, Chief Executive of the New Economics Foundation, Michael Jacobs, Director of the IPPR Commission on Economic Justice, and Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Entropy Law still matters. CUSP director Tim Jackson responds to Michael Liebreich’s essay on the ‘The secret of eternal growth’.
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).
The second in our series of briefing papers on building An Economy That Works explores inequality in the UK. It examines the evidence for rising inequality over the last fifty years, estimates the economic welfare lost to society from an unequal distribution of incomes and addresses the critical question of managing inequality in the context of declining growth rates.
The discourse around ‘natural capital’ potentially offers a way to integrate decisions about the commons effectively into economic decisions. Investing in the commons is key to protecting the flow of services provided to society by natural capital. Recent exploration of the potential for investing in natural infrastructure has highlighted numerous mechanisms, which could help turn this proposition into a reality.
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?
One Hundred Islands is an installation that has been created through a collaboration between The Bare Project Theatre Company and the CUSP. The installation responds to the concept of denial: in particular the denial of the immediate need for change. Why are we failing to act? Is it that we won’t listen or that we are unable to?
Change is in the air. Just a week after the IPCC’s game-changing report on meeting the 1.5o target was published, the UK government brought out its latest Global Strategic Trends (GST) review. Compiled under the unlikely tutelage of the Ministry of Defence, the review is a sobering read, recognising, with little uncertainty, that climate breakdown, environmental destruction and increasing inequality are key security threats. Perhaps more surprisingly, GST 2018 openly discusses the growth dilemma, drawing on a background paper commissioned from us last year.
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’. (An earlier draft of the article was published as CUSP Working Paper No 12.)
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. Supported by the Centre of African Studies at University of Cambridge, the exhibition is on show until 21 December 2018.
On 15 October, the UK Ministry of Defence’s think tank, the Development Concepts and Doctrine Centre, published it’s sixth Global Strategic Trends report. ‘The Future Starts Today’ draws on a range of analysis across academia, business, government departments and nations from across the globe, including commissioned research by CUSP Director Tim Jackson.
Coming at an interesting time for the city, Dan Lyttleton’s new photo book This Must be the Place prompts discussions of Stoke ‘free from cliches’. Given CUSP’s continued interest in the city, Mark Ball sat down with Dan to talk about his new book, the role of photography, and Stoke.
As part of the 2018 ZEIT Wirtschaftsforum, CUSP Director Tim Jackson and Deutsche Bank Chief Economist David Folkerts-Landau were invited for a debate on the dilemma of growth, the relevance of GDP growth for wellbeing, and the political feasibility of a postgrowth agenda.
“What can children tell you about the good life? Oh popsicles are great, raisins suck.’’ — conversations like this can make for a good laugh, but exemplify an almost systemic scepticism towards children’s legitimacy in social debate, CUSP researcher Anastasia Loukianov finds. There are compelling reasons, she argues, for working alongside young people in defining what it might mean to live well in a world of planetary limits.
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.
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.
CUSP researchers at the PSA Specialist Group Environmental Politics organising a networking event for policymakers, academics and environmental NGOs to discuss environmental policy-making in a shifting political landscape.
Our approach to economics and development needs fundamental transformation. A new global initiative is making connections between the diverse institutions and movements working on that task. Facilitating collaboration and knowledge exchange, the key aims of the new alliance are “to amplify and connect, to build and to promote the building of a wellbeing economy”.
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.
Research suggests that the excessive focus on the acquisition of material goods promoted by our consumer society may be detrimental to well-being. Current Western lifestyles, which promote unsustainable patterns of production and consumption, therefore risk failing to bring citizens the happiness they seek.
Scientists, politicians, and policymakers gathering in Brussels for landmark conference: Hosted at the EU parliament, the multi-stakeholder event is exploring visions and solutions for a post-growth economy in Europe.
The Social Enterprise World Forum 2018 is an international event for social enterprises from all over the world to come together, share wisdom, build networks and explore how to create a more sustainable future. In its 10th year, this gathering of social entrepreneurs, community activities, support providers, policy makers and academics will be exploring ideas of alternative enterprise from around the world.
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.