Rethinking Prosperity brings together researchers from different academic departments and institutions working on topics that tie into our goal of reframing the “Economy vs. Environment” conversation. Conventional debates about economic growth and environmental sustainability are siloed, and polarized, limiting the scope of needed change in policy thinking, and green economy initiatives are routinely met with fearful threats of lost jobs.
We seek to change the conversation locally and nationally by mapping and seeding easily spreadable ideas about how an economy can work well for more people, within planetary boundaries over the long run. This entails understanding and reframing contemporary debate on economic and environmental sustainability. The central component of our research agenda is to develop tools for conversation mapping by applying big data tools to track and map local, national and global conversations about sustainable economies. We are locating where productive ideas are being discussed, who is talking about them, and where they are getting uptake in media, government and policy circles.
Identifying challenger discourses & networks
Economic growth is the dominant idea of our age. While the concept of ‘sustainable development’ promised economic growth and environmental preservation, ‘sustainable’ became an afterthought to ‘growth’. And sustainability talk in the media is mostly about the environment and little about economics. But trying to communicate about environmental sustainability without addressing the economy is a losing strategy. Thus, we are seeking to understand who is talking about new economic ideas that are in tune with the environment as well as broader human values and to find out where thought leaders and organizations are forming effective idea networks at the local, national, and global level. To conduct this research, we rely upon a number of tools, such as Crimson Hexagon, Silo-Breaker, Issue-Crawler, and Google Ngram.
Convening local environmental leaders and mapping the network
An important part of Rethinking Prosperity is to reach beyond the ivory towers of academia and to change the conversation surrounding the environment and the economy. To accomplish this, we are creating networks and educational spaces for idea development. In addition, we are designing and testing new communication strategies in partnerships involving UW researchers and community leaders.
Sustainable Development in Germany & the United States
Political Science PhD candidate Caterina Rost will track the idea of “sustainable development” in the German and American national policy discourses over time (from the 1960s to the present). The central questions that this project seeks to address are: How do ideas get traction in national policy discourses? How strong, durable, and coherent is the policy regime that the idea of sustainable development provides the foundation for? And what factors explain the variation in the sustainable development narratives in these parallel cases?
To see our most up to date articles, please check out our Rethinking Prosperity blog. The blog articles are written by our fellows, guest authors, and undergraduate students.
Janis Brizga, Deric Gruen, & Viviana Jiménez (2014). “ELEEP Mini-Tour Economic and Monetary Policy Recommendations: July 2014.”
De Graaf, J., & Batker, D. K. (2011). What’s the Economy For, Anyway?: Why It’s Time to Stop Chasing Growth and Start Pursuing Happiness. Bloomsbury Publishing USA.