UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


BGLP0003 - Pathways to Prosperity 2: Society and Livelihoods

Availability and prerequisites 

This is a core module on the MSc Global Prosperity programme. It is also available as an optional module to all UCL postgraduate students. There are no specific pre-requisites although students may benefit from taking BGLP001 - Pathways to Prosperity 1: Global Legacies before taking this module.

Module Content:

You will explore ways in which we can respond to (or attempt to resolve) the challenges and dilemmas set up in Pathways to Prosperity 1: Global Legacies.

The module examines current Global Grand Challenges and the broad responses to these framed by the Sustainable Development Goals. The module argues that to meet these goals and effectively face these Grand Challenges, humanity requires innovative Transitions that reshape the way that we work, live and use the planet’s resources. Many individuals, communities, businesses and governments are already undertaking a diversity of activities which are, or suggest, possible ways to reimagine the future. These practices potentially provide transferable models and lessons to be scaled up or applied in different contexts.

The module, therefore, presents selected transition case studies and through the assessed work encourages you to explore and develop your own alternative case studies. You will share the case studies that you produce resulting in a broad body of empirical studies on which the entire class may draw. It is envisaged that the common lessons learnt from these transition case studies will inform your future careers as researchers, entrepreneurs, policy makers, etc, allowing you to become Transition Leaders. The module is delivered through a range of online content, classes and student-developed case studies.

Illustrative Module Outline 

  1. Global Challenges, Transitions and Futures
  2. The Nature of Global Transitions: sustainability, resilience and change
  3. Case-study 1 Energy and Climate: Energy transitions in Costa-Rica and elsewhere
  4. Case-study 2 Food Production Transitions: Agro-ecology and resilient farming in Kenya and beyond
  5. Case Study 3 Tackling inequalities: Africa’s millennium villages and other innovations from the Global South
  6. Round-Table Discussion on student case studies
  7. Case-study 4 Recycling Resources: Circular Economies
  8. Case Study 5 The future of work: the case of non-linear careers in creative industries
  9. Case Study 6 Alternative forms of finance
  10. Future Horizons: Realizing Global Prosperity and the world in 2030 
  11. Afternoon of assessed student presentations on their transition case studies  

Indicative Reading

UN General Assembly. 2015. Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York: United Nations. https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld

Clemens, M.A. and Demombynes, G., 2011. When does rigorous impact evaluation make a difference? The case of the Millennium Villages. Journal of Development Effectiveness3(3): 305-339.

Eisenhardt, K.M., Graebner, M.E. and Sonenshein, S., 2016. Grand challenges and inductive methods: Rigor without rigor mortis. Academy of Management Journal59: 1113-1123.

Farla, J., Markard, J., Raven, R. and Coenen, L., 2012. Sustainability transitions in the making: A closer look at actors, strategies and resources. Technological forecasting and social change79: 991-998.

Ferraro, F., Etzion, D. and Gehman, J., 2015. Tackling grand challenges pragmatically: Robust action revisited. Organization Studies, p.0170840614563742.

Fletcher, R., 2013. Making ‘peace with nature’: Costa Rica’s campaign for climate neutrality. pp.155-173. In Nag, E. Roger, C. and Held. D. eds. Climate governance in the developing world: From laggards to leaders. Polity Press.

Geels, F.W., 2011. The multi-level perspective on sustainability transitions: Responses to seven criticisms, Environmental Innovation and Societal Transitions, 1: 24-40

Gratton L.  2014. The Shift. The future of work is already here. London: HarperCollins Publishers.

Holt-Giménez, E. and Altieri, M.A., 2013. Agroecology, food sovereignty, and the new green revolution. Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems37(1), pp.90-102.

Kiplagat, J. K., Wang, R. Z., & Li, T. X. 2011. Renewable energy in Kenya: Resource potential and status of exploitation. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews15: 2960-2973.

Kusimba, S., Yang, Y. and Chawla, N. 2016. Hearthholds of mobile money in western Kenya. Economic Anthropology 3, 2: 266–279.

Leyshon A & Thrift N. 2007. The Capitalization of Almost Everything: The Future of Finance and Capitalism. Theory, Culture & Society 24,7-8: 97 – 115.

Markard, J., Raven, R. and Truffer, B., 2012. Sustainability transitions: An emerging field of research and its prospects. Research Policy41: 955-967.

McMichael, P., and Schneider, M. 2011. Food security politics and the Millennium Development Goals. Third World Quarterly 32: 119-139.

Moore, H.L. 2015. Global Prosperity and Sustainable Development Goals: Global Prosperity and SDGs. Journal of International Development 27: 801–15. doi:10.1002/jid.3114.

Moore, H.L. 2015. Can agroecology save us from 'scorched-earth' agriculture? The Ecologist: http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2856550/can_agroecology_save_us_from_scorchedearth_agriculture.html

Nelms T., Maurer B. Swartz L., and Mainwaring S. 2018. Social Payments: Innovation, Trust, Bitcoin, and the Sharing Economy. Theory, Culture and Society forthcoming

Pronyk, P.M. et al. 2012. The effect of an integrated multisector model for achieving the Millennium Development Goals and improving child survival in rural sub-Saharan Africa: a non-randomised controlled assessment. The Lancet379:2179-2188

Rauschmayer, F., Bauler, T and Schäpke, N. 2015. Towards a thick understanding of sustainability transitions — Linking transition management, capabilities and social practices. Ecological Economics 109: 211–221

Rockstrom, J.,et al. 2009. Planetary boundaries: exploring the safe operating space for humanity. Ecology and Society 14: 32.

Smith, A., Voßb, Grin J.J. 2010. Innovation studies and sustainability transitions: The allure of the multi-level perspective and its challenges. Research Policy 39: 435–448

Stahel, W.R., 2016. The circular economy. Nature531: 435. and see other articles in this special issue.

Turnheim, B., Berkhout, F., Geels, F., Hof, A., McMeekin, A., Nykvist, B. and van Vuuren, D., 2015. Evaluating sustainability transitions pathways: Bridging analytical approaches to address governance challenges. Global Environmental Change35: 239-253.