Surrey to host £6m int’l research centre | Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP)


The University of Surrey has received a £6m research grant from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to establish a multi-disciplinary international research centre, called ‘The Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity’ (CUSP). Among this Centre’s other academic partners are five UK universities (Anglia Ruskin, Keele, Goldsmiths College London, Leeds and Middlesex) and two universities from Canada (York) and New Zealand (Canterbury).

Led by Professor Tim Jackson and working in collaboration with a variety of academic and non-academic partners, CUSP will launch a five-year multidisciplinary research programme in January 2016.

Vision, aim and the programme

CUSP will aim to explore the complex relationship between prosperity (our aspirations for the good life) and sustainability (the social and environmental constraints of a finite planet). As Professor Jackson puts it, “Our guiding vision for sustainable prosperity is one in which people everywhere have the capability to flourish as human beings – within the ‘safe operating space’ of a finite planet. CUSP’s work will be to elaborate that vision, test its viability and explore its social and economic implications.”

Thus, CUSP will explore not just the economic aspects of sustainable prosperity, but also its social, political and philosophical dimensions. It will address the implications of sustainable prosperity at the level of households and firms and will explore sector-level and macro-economic implications of different pathways to prosperity. It will pay particular attention to the pragmatic steps that enterprise, government and civil society should take in order to achieve a sustainable prosperity.


The CUSP work programme comprises five themes (‘MAPSS’ framework):
• Theme M explores the moral framing and contested meanings of prosperity itself.
• Theme A explores the role of the arts and of culture in our society
• Theme P addresses the politics of sustainable prosperity and explores the institutional shifts that will be needed to achieve it.
• Theme S1 explores the social and psychological dimensions of prosperity.
• Theme S2 examines the complex dynamics of social and economic systems on which sustainable prosperity depends.


Spanning numerous academic disciplines, the Centre will take the form of an international network, drawing together expert partners from academic and non-academic institutions as co-producers of the work programme.

The academic partners include:
University of Surrey (Prof Tim Jackson, Dr Kate Burningham, Ian Christie, Dr Angela Druckman, Dr Birgitta Gatersleben)
Anglia Ruskin University (Dr Aled Jones)
Keele University (Prof Andy Dobson)
Goldsmiths College London (Dr Will Davies)
University of Leeds (Prof Kate Oakley)
Middlesex University (Prof Fergus Lyon)
Canada: York University (Prof Peter Victor)
New Zealand: University of Canterbury (Prof Bronwyn Hayward)

Among CUSP’s non-academic partners are the Aldersgate Group and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP). The Aldersgate Group, an alliance of leaders from business, politics and society that drives action for a sustainable economy, will formally be co-investigators on the project, establishing a vital link to industry and policy. As part of Theme S1, CUSP will engage with UNEP in a major study of young people’s lifestyles across the world. Other partnerships include a wide range of business and cultural organisations.

This collaboration will be widened further through an international network of CUSP Fellows hailing from a variety of academic and non-academic institutions.


As part of its exploration of practical actions and proposition of supportive policies, CUSP will engage with business, government and civil society.

In order to engage a wide-range of stakeholders in debate and foster practical innovations in pursuit of sustainable prosperity, the Centre will develop an international Sustainable Prosperity Dialogue, to be chaired by Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Graphic developed using elements from the websites and social networking of CUSP and the University of Surrey


Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity (CUSP) website

News post on the University of Surrey website

CUSP on:
• Twitter @CUSP_uk
• LinkedIn
• FaceBook

University of Surrey | Centre for Environmental Strategy

Anglia Ruskin University | Global Sustainability Institute

Goldsmiths College London | Political Economy Research Centre (PERC)

University of Leeds | Cultural Production and Media Policy research group

Middlesex University | Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR)

University of York (Canada) | Faculty of Environmental Studies

Aldersgate Group

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

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