The school where I work is an incredible place to be, especially this time of year. The capacity of giving and thoughtfulness know no bounds, as does their holiday spirit! Our sustainability initiatives are extending and being integrated into long-standing programming: something as simple as hot chocolate mornings requiring students to bring their own mugs, to our Sustainability Council running a workshop for students to create their own sustainable gifts.
But I wonder about how far-reaching these can go – what is the potential for our students to deepen their education of a sustainable future? One way to tackle this is through environmental studies, geographic courses, and even the study of ethics. There is a growing trend of individuals taking government and businesses to court in order to hold them to account for their unsustainable practices and their (even worse!) lack of action. This raises a lot of questions.
This book provides some answers 🙂
Doughnut Economics, by Kate Raworth brings the reader through “7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist”. The book begins with an interrogation of the foundations of economic theory, and of the “Rationale Economic Man” and how, over the course of two centuries “…from the 1770s to the 1970s, as economic man’s depiction morphed from a nuanced portrait to a crude cartoon – what had started as a model of man had turned into a model for man.” (Raworth, 86) She views this as the fundamental flaw that has lead to our current climate crisis: a crisis of consumption.
You would be interested in this book if:
(1) You teach economics, geography, or run investments clubs at your school
(2) You are interested in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
(3) You are looking for creative ways to reimagine how the world might work
(4) You are interested in problematizing the study of economics
Also, you would be interested in this book if you enjoyed “Factfulness” (see my review HERE) in the way that it provides a new lens through which to see, digest and understand the world’s biggest challenges and highly effective ways to start solving those challenges.
In her book, Kate Raworth relies heavily of images and imagery to invoke a new status quo, a way to rethink something that we don’t really spend a lot of time thinking about: why we behave the way we do with money and finance.
Check out this video for a quick glimpse into 1 of the 7 ways we need to change our thinking: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkg2XMTWV4g
7 Ways to Think like a 21st Century Economist:
(1) Change the Goal: move away from GDP as a measurement
(2) See the Big Picture: we do not have a self-contained market, we have an embedded market
(3) Nurture Human Nature: we are not an ‘economic rational man’, we are complex, social and adaptable humans
(4) Get Savvy with Systems: Gone are the days of supply and demand, we have ushered in an economic system of dynamic complexity
(5) Design to Distribute: we know that growth of economies do NOT result in homeostasis of markets; rather, we need to be distributive by design
(6) Create to Regenerate: we know that growth of economies do NOT result in a rising tide that lifts all boats, it results in a rising tide caused by climate change. Therefore we need to integrate a regenerative framework into our economies
(7) Be Agnostic about Growth: understand that there cannot be infinite growth, so we need to reset and reprioritize for a new normal
I wonder how many of us have given thought to our economic model at this scale? I wonder how we can start to inform and work with our students on these 7 ways of thinking?
More importantly, I wonder when this research and this thoughtful argument against consumerism, GDP-dominated policy, and infinite economic growth will become part of our curriculum? OR When will educators take this on?
Who’s with me?