UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Pathways to Prosperity 1: Global Legacies

Availability & prerequisites

This is a core module on the MSc Global Prosperity programme. It is also available to all UCL postgraduate students. There are no specific pre-requisites.

Module content

The dominant economic cultures of the 20th century have produced both immense material wealth and deep social and ecological dilemmas. The key assumptions of these cultures – embodied in indicators such as GDP and the belief that limitless economic growth is both possible as well as desirable – continue to shape our lives. How did these global cultures and their underlying structures develop? In what sense are today’s grand challenges – including climate change, unemployment and inequalities of income and wealth – related to these entrenched ideas and institutional configurations? What role did ‘development’ play in exporting these ideas to the Global South?  And how are these cultures responsible for the deep existential crisis of Western democracies that has followed?

Through core lectures and readings, interactive seminars and a series of speaker events, Pathways to Prosperity I: Global Legacies is designed to unpick the history of these unsustainable cultures. You will be challenged to think critically about both the successes and pitfalls of 20th century economic, cultural and social practices while creatively considering how they might be productively reconfigured to suit new ecological, social, political and economic realities, in the context of humanity’s search for sustainable global prosperity.

Illustrative module outline

1.       Visions of sustainable global prosperity

2.       Rethinking economics

3.       Rethinking global development

4.       Legacies of colonialism

5.       Local and global inequalities

6.       The Anthropocene

7.       Student presentations

8.       (Un)sustainable transportation

9.       The global food production system

10.   Pathways to prosperity: from legacies to futures

Indicative reading:

Atkinson A.B. (2015) Inequality: What Can Be Done? Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Commission on the Measurement of Economic Performance and Social Progress (France), Joseph E. Stiglitz, Amartya Sen, and Jean-Paul Fitoussi, eds. Mismeasuring Our Lives: Why GDP Doesn’t Add Up. New York: New Press, 2010.

Crutzen P.J. (2002) Geology of mankind – The Anthropocene, Nature 415: 23.

Escobar A. (2012) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, N.J: Princeton University Press.

Graham S. (2000). Constructing premium network spaces: reflections on infrastructure networks and contemporary urban development, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 24(1): 183–200.

Jackson T. (2016) Prosperity without Growth: Economics for a Finite Planet (revised edition). London: Routledge.

Moore H.L. (2015) Global Prosperity and Sustainable Development Goals: Global Prosperity and SDGs, Journal of International Development 27(6): 801-15.

Piketty T. (2014) Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Raworth K. (2012) A Safe and Just Space for Humanity: Can We Live within the Doughnut,  Oxfam Policy and Practice: Climate Change and Resilience 8(1): 1–26.

Sachs J. (2015) The Age of Sustainable Development. New York: Columbia University Press.

Social Prosperity Network (2017) Social prosperity for the future: A proposal for Universal Basic Services. London: Institute for Global Prosperity. Available at: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/igp/sites/bartlett/files/universal_basic_services_-_the_institute_for_global_prosperity_.pdf

Stiglitz J. E. (2012) The Price of Inequality: How Today's Divided Society Endangers Our Future. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.

Stuart T. (2009) Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal. London: Penguin.