press release
Published: 25 May 2016

Can prosperity flourish in a finite world?

By Peter La
  • The University of Surrey’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) launches “Nature of Prosperity” campaign with former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams,  environmental activist Satish Kumar and Caroline Lucas, MP for Green Party.

The University of Surrey’s Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity has launched a major, new public dialogue on the “Nature of Prosperity”, with the former Archbishop of Canterbury, environmental activist, Satish Kumar and Green Party MP, Caroline Lucas, explored one of the most vital questions of our time:  “What prosperity means in an age of environmental and social limits?”

Leading the proceedings for this, the first in a series of engaging debates, was the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams who joined in conversation with the long-time peace and environmental activist Satish Kumar.  Also present at the event was Caroline Lucas (MP and Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Limits to Growth), Professor Tim Jackson (Director of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity at the University of Surrey), Jane Elliott (Chief Executive of the ESRC) and Karen Hamilton (Global Vice President of Sustainable Business, Unilever).

To mark the launch, the University of Surrey launched an innovative campaign to elicit the views of the wider community about the nature of prosperity and early insights from the #prosperityis campaign  were revealed at the event.

As well as being the inaugural event for  “The Nature of Prosperity”, last night’s  event marked the launch of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) at the University of Surrey.  An overview of CUSP’s work programme of ground-breaking research and engagement was unveiled at the event by CUSP Director, the University of Surrey’s Professor Tim Jackson.

“The old model of prosperity through relentless consumption is well and truly broken,” said Professor Jackson, said:  “ But that’s not the end of the story.  CUSP’s big challenge over the next five years is to figure out how we might have more fun, with less stuff.”  

Initially funded for a five year period by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, CUSP’s work programme addressed the philosophical, social and economic dimensions of this challenge. The research programme of CUSP was 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).

Jane Elliott, Chief Executive of the ESRC, said: “Social science is vital in understanding our visions of the good life.  We’re delighted to be supporting CUSP in the development of its research agenda on sustainable prosperity.”

Last night’s event concluded with a performance by  the  innovative charity Streetwise Opera whose aim is to ‘give homeless people a voice’. Streetwise Opera is an award-winning charity producing critically-acclaimed operas using music to help people, who have often faced challenges such as homelessness, make positive changes in their lives.

Professor Tim Jackson, continued:  “Streetwise is showing in practice what we are talking about in principle. Prosperity is about giving everyone, everywhere a chance to flourish.”

The event “The Nature of Prosperity” took place on Monday 23 May at Central Hall Westminster, Storey’s Gate, London, SW1H 9NH. 

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