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Why some cities are ‘rebel cities’—interview with Yaz Brien about Bristol’s resistance scene | by Joost de Moor

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?


This Must be the Place: An interview with Dan Lyttleton | By Mark Ball

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.


No hard feelings: Why environmental scholars can’t afford to dismiss children’s views of the good life | Blog by Anastasia Loukianov

“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.


The value of disused urban spaces for young people | Blog by Laurel Gallagher

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.


Making transformation tangible: We all need to work together | Blog by Katherine Trebeck

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”.


Investing psychic (not material) energy: flow experiences and sustainable prosperity | Blog by Amy Isham

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.


CUSP Summer School 2018: Finding your place in the world of sustainable prosperity | Blog by Ellen Stenslie

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.


Trusting sustainable food production | Blog by Fergus Lyon and Lovisa Näslund

In a transition to a more sustainable future, we need to dramatically change how we produce and source food, and develop systems that encourage consumers to purchase the sustainable foods that are available.


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.


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.)


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.


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?


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.


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.


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, 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.


‘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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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. 


‘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.


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.


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.


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.


Finance in the Anthropocene | Blog by Nick Taylor

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.


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