Couple in their garden, reading and making music, Mexico
Couple in their garden, reading and making music, Mexico

What is Prosperity?

What can prosperity possibly mean in a world of environmental and social limits?  This question has guided Tim Jackson’s research for over thirty years. Rejecting the simplistic idea that more is always better, and that economic growth is an infallible route to the ‘good life’, Tim has always been fascinated by a much broader vision of a shared and lasting prosperity, in which people have the potential to flourish as human beings, without increasingly damaging the finite planet we share with other species, and on which we depend for a home.

It was to explore these ideas and elaborate the underlying vision that Tim founded the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) in 2016. This task clearly has material and economic dimensions. But it also demands an understanding of human psychology, of social relationships, of political economy. It has moral and philosophical dimensions. It draws on the role of creativity and the ingenuity of the human spirit. CUSP’s multidisciplinary team includes philosophers, economists, sociologists, cultural scientists, engineers, psychologists, political scientists and artists.

Supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), CUSP pays particular attention to the pragmatic steps that need to be taken by enterprise, government and civil society in order to achieve a sustainable prosperity.

The work of CUSP draws heavily on previous research led by Tim at the University of Surrey. From 2006 to 2012, he led the Research Group on Lifestyles, Values and the Environment (RESOLVE), which achieved international acclaim as a pioneer of research on sustainable lifestyles. In 2010, the work of RESOLVE was expanded to create the Sustainable Lifestyles Research Group (SLRG), again hosted by the University of Surrey and funded by the Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), ESRC and the Scottish Government. From 2013 to 2016, Tim held an ESRC Professorial research fellowship on Prosperity and Sustainability in the Green Economy (PASSAGE).

Further reading

Jackson, T 2018: The Post-Growth Challenge: Secular Stagnation, Inequality and the Limits to Growth. CUSP Working Paper No 12. Guildford: University of Surrey.

Jackson, T 2016. Beyond consumer capitalism – foundations for a sustainable prosperity. CUSP Working Paper No 2. Guildford: University of Surrey.

Jackson, T 2013. Angst essen Seele auf – Escaping the ‘iron cage’ of consumerism. In: Wuppertal Spezial (Vol 48), Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment and Energy.