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Real Prosperity in Sustainable Societies  

Last Updated: Apr 1, 2015 URL: Print Guide Email Alerts

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Concept Statement: Achieving Real Prosperity in Sustainable Societies:
What’s the Economy for, Anyway?

A learning community aimed at understanding how to move beyond current short-term and unstable economic models by find ways to redefine economic and social relations that work better for more people.

Students will participate in gathering multimedia resources, learning to think synthetically about the many dimensions of personal life quality and the politics and economics that affect them. We will also look at what real prosperity means for people living in different societies and cultures. The goal is to create a communication system linking universities and civil society organizations in different nations. Instructors, researchers and students from different disciplines will develop new knowledge and find ways to distribute it to general publics, press, and policy makers at local, national, and global levels. 

  • surveying understandings of prosperity, sustainability, human well being
  • exploring connections among key concepts
    • climate change – global warming – and general environmental quality (air, water, food)
    • energy supplies and technologies (human and economic costs of energy and impact on economy and environment)
    • economic sustainability (resource depletion, energy costs, consumer culture, growth imperatives, economies that employ and support people as workers and members of society)
    • understanding the underlying the cultural value schemes that push individual behaviors, public opinion and policies (e.g., how consumerism and neoliberalism are filtered through different cultural frameworks such as the American Dream in the U.S. or Capitalism with Chinese characteristics)  
    • tying the above to core elements of economic and social organization to human happiness, health and life satisfaction
  • find and compare real world cases of such interlinked thinking and practices
  • derive and assess popular discourses that travel and invite new thinking at both individual and public policy levels
  • understanding political strategies for and obstacles to change
  • learning about how organizations (NGOs, social networks, conventional political and business organizations can embrace the above)
  • improving upon current measures of economic and political success (e.g., GDP) by assessing and adding to various emerging schemes such as Genuine Progress Indicators and Gross National Happiness measures

Bottom line: Develop a dual pronged academic program that explores both the political and public value discourse sides, aimed at promoting public awareness and political capacity. Create student and civil society ambassadors for these ideas: people who will carry persuasive visions into different walks of life and advocate for them in different organizational settings.

Lance Bennett

Professor of Political Science and
Ruddick C. Lawrence Professor of Communication
University of Washington, Seattle, USA
Director, Center for Communication & Civic Engagement

Research Plan

This is a very multi-disciplinary research project.  You may want to divide the resources amongsth yourselves to make sure that you are not duplicating efforts.  Consider:

You may want to use Refworks to maintain your references  One benefit to Refworks is that we can export source (it will generate reference lists for us).

RefWorks & Citation Guides

RefWorks is a web-based personal citation database and bibliography creator that allows you to import, store, and share your research citations and automatically format your bibliographies into whatever style you need (APA, MLA, Chicago, and many more). 


Need Research Help? Ask Me!

Have questions or need research help? Please contact Jessica Albano, the communication research librarian, via email at

We can work:

  • via email
  • schedule an appointment to meet in Suzzallo Library
  • schedule a time during my office hours in the Department of Communication, Communication Commons (formerly the Advising Office, room 118).  Office hours are Tuesdays and Wednesdays 11am to 3pm.

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