Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity


Start date: 1 January 2016
End date: 31 December 2021


The University of Surrey has received funding from the ESRC to establish a prestigious, multi-disciplinary Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP). Led by Prof Tim Jackson, and working in collaboration with a variety of academic and non-academic partners, the CUSP research programme commenced in January 2016. In the meantime, interested readers can follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Sign up for our newsletter >> here.


Visit the CUSP website here >>


The overall aim of CUSP is to explore the economic, ecological, social and governance dimensions of sustainable prosperity and to make concrete recommendations to government, business and civil society in pursuit of it. Specific research objectives will be:

  • to examine the meanings and moral framing of the concept of sustainable prosperity
  • to explore the role of art and culture in achieving a sustainable prosperity  
  • to establish the political economy of sustainable prosperity and propose concrete institutional architectures for it 
  • to understand the social and psychological dimensions of people's aspirations for the good life 
  • to analyse the system dynamics of an ecologically bounded macro-economy and explore viable scenarios for change


Economic and Social Research Council


The goal of achieving a sustainable prosperity has enormous economic, social and political significance for society as a whole. The combined challenges of climate change, resource constraints and financial instability pose serious threats to businesses, to households, to the finance sector, to government and to civil society. There is an urgent need for first-class, multidisciplinary, innovative research on the wider implications of these challenges and on potential solutions to them.  There is also a need to promote an open, creative dialogue on the nature of prosperity and the avenues to achieve it. 

Our guiding vision for sustainable prosperity is one in which people everywhere have the capability to flourish as human beings - within the ecological and resource constraints of a finite planet. Our work will explore not just the economic aspects of this challenge, but also its social, political and philosophical dimensions.  We will address the implications of sustainable prosperity at the level  of households and firms; and we will explore sector-level and macro-economic implications of different pathways to prosperity.  We will pay particular attention to the pragmatic steps that need to be taken by enterprise, government and civil society in order to achieve a sustainable prosperity.   

MAPSS framework

The CUSP work programme is split into five themes (our MAPSS framework).   

Theme M explores the moral framing and contested meanings of prosperity itself. Taking a broadly philosophical approach we examine how people, enterprise and government negotiate the tensions between sustainability and prosperity.   

Theme A explores the role of the arts and of culture in our society.  We will look not only at the role of the arts in communicating sustainability but at culture as a vital element in prosperity itself.   

Theme P addresses the politics of sustainable prosperity and explores the institutional shifts that will be needed to achieve it.  We will work closely with both corporate and social enterprise to test new models of sustainability for business.   

Theme S1 explores the social and psychological dimensions of prosperity.  We will work with households and individuals in order to understand how people negotiate their aspirations for the good life. As part of this theme we will engage with UNEP in a major study of young people's lifestyles across the world.  

Theme S2 examines the complex dynamics of social and economic systems on which sustainable prosperity depends. We will address in particular the challenge of achieving financial stability and high employment under conditions of constrained resource consumption.   

Sustainable Prosperity Dialogue

A core contribution to research impact and to deeper and wider understanding of the challenges of sustainable prosperity will be the design and development of an international Sustainable Prosperity Dialogue, to be chaired by Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge. The aim will be to initiate an international dialogue on sustainable prosperity which will engage both academic and non-academic contributors from across disciplines, sectors and religious (or philosophical) perspectives in debate and foster practical innovations in pursuit of sustainable prosperity. The final shape and structure of the dialogue will be co-designed with our partners in order to dovetail with and reinforce initiatives being developed elsewhere, including Austria’s Growth in Transition initiative, Unilever’s Sustainable Living Plan and the An Economy that Works programme.


The Centre takes the form of a rich international network, drawing together expert partners from academic and non-academic institutions as co-producers of the work programme. The research programme of CUSP is coordinated from the University of Surrey under the direction of Professor Tim Jackson. CUSP’s academic partners include: University of Surrey, Anglia Ruskin University, Keele University, Goldsmiths College London, University of Leeds, Middlesex University, York University (Canada), University of Canterbury (Christchurch, NZ).

We have established a vital link to industry and policy by including as a co-investigator the Aldersgate Group – an alliance of leaders from business, politics and society that drives action for a sustainable economy; and also the World Future Council – an NGO working closely with business leaders to envision An Economy That Works.

Principal Investigator  

Tim Jackson    


Dr Kate Burningham, Dr Angela Druckman, Dr Birgitta Gatersleben, Ian Christie, Dr William Davies, Dr Philip Catney, Dr Marit Hammond, Dr Brian Doherty, Dr Aled Jones, Dr Bronwyn Hayward, Professor Fergus Lyon, Professor Kate Oakley, Prof Peter Victor, Charles Seaford, Nick Molho  

Research Fellows

Dr Sue Venn, Simon Mair, Dr Craig Rye, Dr Jonathan Ward, Dr Robyn Owen, Dr Roberto Pasqualino, Dr Ian Vickers

PhD Candidates

Joanna Kitchen, Sarah Hafner

Administrative Staff 

Gemma Birkett:  Administrative Co-ordinator & PA to Director of CUSP


Linda Geßner: Communications Manager

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Page Created: Wednesday 25 March 2015 13:39:25 by pr0004
Last Modified: Thursday 4 August 2016 11:50:33 by m05197
Expiry Date: Saturday 25 June 2016 13:38:37
Assembly date: Thu Aug 16 12:45:15 BST 2018
Content ID: 142191
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