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Announcement: History of the Sussex Manifesto

Professor Sir Hans Singer considered it one of the three most important reports he had been involved in writing. Given Prof. Singer’s illustrious career spanning seven decades from 1936, that is quite an endorsement. The report in question is The Sussex Manifesto: Science and Technology to Developing Countries during the Second Development Decade (1970).

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Announcement: The Multimedia Manifesto

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The multimedia version of Innovation, Sustainability, Development: A New Manifesto, is exactly the same text as the printed  version but helps bring the issues raised to life with video, audio and other materials.

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Technological paradigms and technological trajectories – 1982

Giovanni Dosi – 1982

There is a recognised relationship between economic growth and technical progress; however the intimacies of the relationship includes technical development in relation to the market in which it serves together with the role of institutions ability to influence the rate and direction of technical change, the theories of technical change have been categorised as demand-pull and technology-push. Dosi argues that demand-pull categorises technical progress as the adoption of a given technology from a number of options while technology-push does not consider economic activity. Rather, technical progress results from technical and economic interactions with the resulting specific outcomes termed ‘technological paradigms’ moreover, the selection, promotion and establishment of a paradigm is directly influenced by both economic and institutional dynamics.

Dosi is unable to state that economic and institutional dynamics have a pre-determined outcome and is thus unable to offer a mathematical ‘model’ to either predict of engineer a specific technical paradigm. However, he makes a number of observations; technological paradigms can be considered as a cluster of potential technical solutions to a problem, they have a need for knowledge, skills and experience and they are not necessarily all conquering in their outcome or implementation. Dosi also acknowledges that similarities between science and technology used in his hypothesis may be tenuous and thus not entirely reliable.

Amartya Sen’s Capability Approach – July 1983

At a time when well-being was measured as either opulence (income) or utility (happiness, desire fulfilment), Amartya Sen introduced a more elaborate human development model that included social and psychological dimensions.

Developed in various documents from the early 1980s onwards, the Capability Approach (CA) evaluates well-being in terms of “capabilities”, the real opportunities available to individuals to do and be what they have reason to value. The selection and weighting of these capabilities depend on personal value judgments and constitute a choice between possible life-styles. The development process is hence seen as one of expanding capabilities.

The CA has since emerged as the leading alternative to standard economic frameworks for thinking about poverty, inequality and human development generally and it underpins the Human Development Index used in the UN Development Programme’s annual Human Development Reports.
The CA also constitutes a conceptual framework for sustainable development at a global scale: Sustainable development aims to ensure well-being of present and future generations and this is only possible if worldwide population has enough capabilities to satisfy its needs. In this sense the approach provides a framework to assess individual well-being, evaluate social arrangements and design policies and proposals about social change in society.

See Sen, A. (1983) Poor, relatively speaking. Oxford Economic Papers (New Series) 35(2), 153-169

Last Child in the Woods

Richard Louv’s book, ‘Last Child in the Woods’ illustrates the alarming impact that a growing divide between children and the outdoors has had on childhood development and environmental outlooks. He introduces the concept of ‘nature-deficit disorder’, which claims that as children spend less and less time in ‘unstructured’ natural environments they lose the necessary facet of childhood development; creative imagination and also become more prone to negative trends like attention deficit disorder, obesity and reduced empathy for the environment.

Since its publication in 2005, this book has inspired significant innovations, not in technological change, but instead in the development of advocacy programs for childhood development and environmental conservation. Spurring a national dialogue between teachers, physical and mental health professionals, parents and environmentalists, a number of organizations have now been created with the sole aim of reconnecting children with nature. Some examples include, the ‘Urban Wildlife Refuge Initiative’, which aims at transporting kids to national wildlife parks where they can freely explore and learn about the ecosystems surrounding their cities or the ‘Green Hour Program’, which regularly outlines practical methods of reconnecting kids with nature. In defining and outlining the negative effects of a growing trend, this book has inspired innovation in advocacy programs that will hopefully lead to increased environmental awareness and sustainability.

First issue of the Whole Earth Catalog

“We are as gods, and might as well get good at it.”
— Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalog, 1968.

A self-published occasional ecology magazine, which ran from 1968-1974 (with various successors), The Whole Earth Catalog provided a rallying point for the US environmental movement, ‘where primitive wood stoves and survivalist supplies for counterculture neo-Luddites share the page with personal computers, geodesic domes, and oscilloscopes.’ (Kirk, 2001: 375)
Arguably the point at which the idea of ‘alternative technologies’ began to diffuse into the public consciousness, with the birth of a more nuanced and technologically-literate strain of green politics.

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