Our Topics 2019

Why discuss the topics: Well-being, Growth, Crises?

We aim to discuss diverse approaches to sustainable social and economic development. In the past, economics has seen growth as a matter of output and employment, the higher the better. However, modern societies are increasingly concerned with the well-being of humans in such a system. The global challenges of unstable financial markets, automisation and climate change have led to a shift in perception of what is important. Hence, economic discourse has to be held to create an economy that works for everyone and protects our planet. This is the reason why SHIFTING PARADIGMS 2019 focuses on Well-being, Growth, and Crises.


As much as individual life choices differ, the main aim remains: well-being. Well-being can be defined in terms of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, which shows basic factors such as nourishment and sleep to be important. Higher up in the hierarchy are security, health and good relationships and culminates in personal development such as achievement and creativity. Economics focuses on well-being in monetary terms with annual calculations of Gross Domestic Product and GDP per capita. Although, this is an important measurement it does not seem representative of people’s lives. Economies such as the one in Bhutan measure well-being in terms of Gross National Happiness instead of output. The introduction of alternative measures shows the growing importance of well-being in economics. What is missing is a clear concept how to achieve this. Formulating such a concept is a task not only modern economists but mankind as a whole needs to solve.


Economic growth is one of the main macroeconomic objectives defined as a steady rate of increase of national output. It is a measure of welfare. Economic development is measured not only in monetary terms but also other dimensions such as health, social security and education. The most common example is the Human Development Index. The measurement, meaning and understanding of sustainable economic development are of great importance. However, measurements of economic growth are no longer sufficient as economic growth is much broader. With the demand for climate change, an economic system that depends on infinite use of resources and creation of output is no longer sustainable. Some countries are in need of economic development while others entered a mode of overproduction. Therefore, it is important to think about the current economic development. Sustainable economic development is one solution. It is the development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.   


Every crisis is always damaging to the economy in various aspects: social, economic, political, technological and environmental. The last economic crisis in 2008 was not predicted although economists had claimed to be able to predict economic scenarios in a scientific manner. The crisis impacted lives, leading to unemployment, homelessness and poverty. Moreover, the current crisis of widening inequality as well as climate change pose enormous challenges to our global security. Thus, economics has to find solutions that not only predict crises but most importantly how to tackle and ultimately prevent them. Many thinkers from different schools of thought have proposed solutions for these issued. Hence, an interdisciplinary dialogue is of great importance in order to actively work together against such catastrophic events.