The Crash Course in Economic Sustainability For Non-Economists

June 5-9, 2013 – Fairfield, IA

Facilitated by: 

John Ikerd & Lonnie Gamble

·      Do you teach courses or conduct other educational programs related to sustainability?

·      Do you feel less confident and comfortable with economic concepts than with the ecological and social aspects of sustainability?

·      Do wish you could take a course to learn the essentials of economic sustainability without a lot of the charts, graphs, and economic jargon?

·      Do you wish you could take such a course but feel you don’t have the time or money?

If your answer is yes to more than one of these questions, you should consider participating in The Crash Course in Economic Sustainability for Non-Economists in Fairfield, IA, June 5-9, 2013.

Most people know there is something fundamentally wrong with what they have been told about economic sustainability. However, they don’t know enough about economics to challenge the fallacies of conventional economic thinking. The Crash Course will reinforce your intuition and common sense with logic and reason.
Most economists have either ignored economic sustainability or have made it so complicated that it takes a PhD in economics to comprehend.. They assume human imagination and creativity are capable of solving any problem we may create and finding a substitute for any resource we may degrade or deplete. Or they complicate the issue by trying to “internalize the externalities” by assigning economic values or prices to the negative social and ecological impacts of economic activities.  Either way, most economists claim all we need to achieve sustainability is the economic incentive to do so. If this were true, our economy quite likely would already be sustainable, which it is not.

As a result, most people who conduct sustainability education programs skip lightly over the economic dimension of sustainability, hoping their students won’t ask too many questions. Some may refer their students to various sources that claim economic sustainability is actually more profitable than economic extraction and exploitation, or at least would be if we used government policies to “get the prices right.”

As a result, the sustainability movement continues to suffer from economic illiteracy. The Crash Course in Economic Sustainability addresses this problem directly and decisively.

·      You will learn that you don’t need to be or become an economist to understand the basic principles and concepts essential for economic sustainability.

·      You will be provided with a basic text book and discussion guide that explains the essential principles and concepts without resorting to economic jargon, charts, and graphs.

·      You will learn that economic sustainability is inextricably interrelated with social and ecological sustainability, while economic value is fundamentally different from social and ethical values.

·      You will discover that any thoughtful person, in collaboration with other thoughtful people, can learn the essentials of economic sustainability in a matter of days, not weeks or years.

·      In the process of collaborative learning, you will learn ways of sharing what you have learned with your students or colleagues, without being self-conscious about what you have yet to learn.

The conveners of the Crash Course, John Ikerd and Lonnie Gamble, have extensive experience with educational programs related to both economics and sustainability and have facilitated a number of similar collaborative learning experiences. That said, you will also learn from other members of the class and from others in the community, as much of the learning will take place outside the classroom in community of Fairfield, IA.

Fairfield is a thriving, entrepreneurial community that is also paving the way for numerous sustainability initiatives in Iowa. In 2003, a report by the National Center for Small Communities selected Fairfield as a recipient of The Grassroots Rural Entrepreneurship Award, saying that the city “has become recognized as one the nation’s most entrepreneurial small towns.” Mayor Ed Malloy describes the city’s agenda for sustainability as “aggressive,” and includes a Green Strategic Plan covering everything from conservation, local farms, local food, alternative transportation, and bike paths and trails.

 We hope to see you at the Crash Course in Fairfield this summer!


Sponsored by: Maharishi University of Management Sustainable Living Department

Green economy: does it include you?

In honor of World Environment Day, in honor of EcoFairfield, and in hopes of winning a trip to Brazil this summer (yay!) for the annual WED conference organized by the United Nations Environment Programme since 1972, today I blog about the theme of the conference this year: Green Economy. Does it include you?
World Environment Day -June 5th-The Green Economy is a fuzzy and complex concept. My definition of it includes triple-bottom-line businesses, cooperatives, private industries, non-profits, and charities; political reform (revolution?), fair-trade and global markets; as well as timebanks, volunteerism, barter, and gifting circles; women’s empowerment, agroecological practices, and renewable energy technologies.

EcoFairfield 2012

But more than these elements, vital to a green economy is a shift in thinking and understanding how things influence one another within a dynamic whole, and then prioritizing accordingly. The Green Economy is not a one-size fits all solution but many different solutions applied appropriately. The Green Economy is not one ideology but the healthy balance of many.
To paraphrase Michelle Long, instead of a global village, a Green Economy is a globe of strong, healthy interconnected villages.
What we have today is a global village in which a country’s Gross Domestic Product is considered
by most to be the only indicator of standard of living. GDP’s focus is Market Value a.k.a. Money. It ignores income disparities and depletion and degradation of natural resources. It counts your parent’s divorce, hurricane Katrina, and the alarming rate at which we are losing our soils as “gains”.

Contrast this scenario with a globe in which nations strive to boost Gross National Happiness which measures factors conducive to happiness. Here, in this world, you are guaranteed care when you fall ill, and proper education, here mothers won’t die from childbirth if preventable, and you won’t go hungry. GNH is even a useful comparative indicator; research supports the notion that markers of individual and social well-being are remarkably trans-cultural. Pinker likes to say that because we are all relatives, it’s not all relative.

And though I celebrate globalism, I acknowledge unchecked globalization is seriously un-sexy. Ignoring labor rights, human rights, and damages to the environment in international agreements leads to a world of corporate hegemony. A tricky balance needs to be resolved between globalism and localism. Imo more localization is needed. Localizing efforts lead to diverse, harder, better, faster, stronger villages and communities.
As Fairfieldians would say: there is unity in diversity.
So does the green economy include you?
Only you can say and somehow you already have the answer. Are you interested in seeing your town flourish in every way imaginable? More specifically, do you want to see more and better movies offered at the local movie theatre? Top that how about watching locally directed and produced media? Have you ever wanted to be an actor? Are you a videographer? photographer? screen writer? Think about all the new gigs that would be available, now multiply that to include every industry!
Also, what is that small business idea that whispers to you while you try to sleep? And to speak about food, aren’t the veggies and fruits from the farmer’s market just oh so ripe and delicious!? Ever thought about growing your own? Wouldn’t it be fun to manage a community garden along with your neighbors? And exchange seeds? And have potluck parties?
The questions are endless. But the main one still is: Does it include you? You with your valid worries and problems; ambitions, needs and responsibilities; and a set way of doing things: Does this so-called Green Economy include you?
I bet the better question ought to be:
Do you want to be left out?
EcoFairfield 2012
Serve. Connect. Inspire.
Because our locals are awesome!
Fabiola Domenique
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Further Reading
 UN International Year of Cooperatives
And if you are curious here are the contest guidelines: