New Book on “Sustainable Wellbeing Futures”

We have a new edited book coming out in May 2020 entitled Sustainable Wellbeing Futures: a Research and Action Agenda for Ecological Economics. This work is the product of a workshop supported by the Gund Institute for Environment at the University of Vermont, and includes contributions from a broad range of scholars and practioners dedicated to shaping the field of ecological economics. As Hunter Lovins writes:

Ecological economics has given us the vision of an economy in service to sustainable wellbeing for over three decades. This essential volume combines the best ideas from the leaders in the field with the thinking of young emerging scholars to set forth the research and action needed to make a finer future a reality.

Each chapter outlines a research and action agenda for how this future can look and actions for its realization. While it is difficult to categorize ecological economics in the same way one would a normal academic discipline, some general characteristics can be enumerated, including:

  • A core problem of creating a future that is both sustainable and focused on the shared wellbeing of both humans and the rest of nature;
  • An explicit attempt to construct at ‘pluralistic dialog’ with integration across disciplines, rather than territorial disciplinary differentiation;
  • An emphasis on ‘integration’ of three hierarchical goals of sustainable scale, fair distribution, and efficient allocation;
  • A deep concern with the ‘biophysical underpinnings’ of the functioning of jointly determined ecological and socioeconomic systems; and
  • A broad focus on systems and ‘systems dynamics, scale, and hierarchy’ and on ‘integrated modelling’ of ecological economic systems.

These characteristics make ecological economics applicable to some of the major problems facing humanity today in human-dominated ecosystems.  It is not so much the individual core scientific questions that set ecological economics apart – since these questions are covered independently in other disciplines as well – but rather the treatment of these questions in an integrated, transdisciplinary way, which is essential to their understanding and effective use in policy.   We hope that this book is a substantial step in that direction.

Published by Jon Erickson

Blittersdorf Professor of Sustainability Science & Policy University of Vermont

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