Leading researchers and practitioners in multiple dimensions of consumerism and well-being -- sociologic, economic, technologic, cultural, and political -- to examine the real meanings of prosperity
Clark University will host the annual international conference of the Sustainable Consumption Research and Action Initiative (SCORAI), The Future of Consumerism and Well-Being in a World of Ecological Constraints, from June 12 to 14. The conference will include presentations by scholars working in the field of sustainable consumption, policy briefings by national and international experts, keynote lectures, and plenary dialogues.
In the wealthy countries of the global North there is growing recognition that technology alone—in the form of efficiency gains, new products, and energy sources—will not bring about necessary drastic reductions in resource utilization and ecological impacts. In addition to technological changes, fundamental shifts will have to take place in how people satisfy their needs and wants through material and energy consumption, conference organizers acknowledge.
The SCORAI conference at Clark aims to improve understanding of the driving forces behind consumerist lifestyles in the wealthiest parts of the world; to generate insights about moving toward individual and societal well-being in a society aware of ecological limits; and to build on recent developments to establish a vibrant, global research community focused on sustainable consumption.
Conference organizers are Clark University Professor of Environmental Science and Policy Halina Brown, and Clark Senior Research Scientist Philip Vergragt, with Professor Maurie Cohen of New Jersey Institute of Technology, John Stutz, vice president of Tellus Institute of Boston, and Jeffrey Barber, president of Integrated Strategies Forum in Washington, D.C. Brown, Vergragt and Cohen also are co-editors of “Innovations in Sustainable Consumption: New Economics, Socio-technical Transitions and Social Practices” (Edward Elgar Publishing, April 2013). Clark President David Angel will also address the conference attendees.
“Beyond a certain level of national wealth, economic growth in itself does not improve life or sustain the Earth,” says Professor Brown. “We are working to figure out how to grow and in what areas—not to continue feeding a frenzied consumer society, but facilitate a transition to sustainable, equitable prosperity and societal well-being.”
More information about the conference and a schedule of its events can be found here.
Keynote speakers include:
- John Fullerton, former Managing Director of JP Morgan and Founder of the Capital Institute, an online collaborative space for exploring the effect of economic transition to a more just, resilient, and sustainable way of living through the transformation of finance.
- Sheldon Garon, the Nissan Professor of History and East Asian Studies at Princeton University and the author of “Beyond Our Means: Why America Spends While the World Saves” (Princeton University Press, 2012).
- Carol Graham, the Leo Pasvolsky Senior Fellow in Global Economy and Development at the Brookings Institution and College Park Professor at the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, and the author of “The Pursuit of Happiness: An Economy of Well-Being” (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) and “Happiness Around the World: The Paradox of Happy Peasants and Miserable Millionaires” (Oxford University Press, 2010).
The conference’s plenary speakers include Juliet Schor, professor of sociology at Boston College and the author of “Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth,” the national best-seller “The Overworked American: The Unexpected Decline of Leisure,” and “The Overspent American: Why We Want What We Don’t Need”; John de Graaf, the national coordinator of Take Back Your Time, an organization challenging time poverty and overwork in the United States and Canada, and the co-author of the best-selling “Affluenza: the All-Consuming Epidemic, and What is the Economy for, Anyway”; and Bob Massie, President of the New Economics Institute based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, a leader in the new economy movement, former head of Ceres and co-founder of the Global Reporting Initiative and the Investor Network on Climate Risk.
Approximately 120 participants are expected to attend the conference, hailing from the United States, Europe, Canada, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia.
In April, Clark University students, with support from the New Economics Foundation, organized and hosted a New Economics Summit titled “Connecting the Dots: Pathways to a New Economy.”
Founded in 1887 in Worcester, Massachusetts, Clark University is a small, liberal arts-based research university addressing social and human imperatives on a global scale. Nationally renowned as a college that changes lives, Clark is emerging as a transformative force in higher education today. LEEP (Liberal Education and Effective Practice) is Clark’s pioneering model of education that combines a robust liberal arts curriculum with life-changing world and workplace experiences. Clark’s faculty and students work across boundaries to develop solutions to contemporary challenges in the areas of psychology, geography, management, urban education, Holocaust and genocide studies, environmental studies, and international development and social change. The Clark educational experience embodies the University’s motto: Challenge convention. Change our world. www.clarku.edu