Academic victory for ecological economics

Routledge promotes Nord Professor Ove Jakobsen and his new book.

In his new book, Transformative Ecological Economics, Professor Ove Jakobsen highlights 29 international thinkers who have all contributed to the field of ecological economics.

- The political and academic discussion about different economic systems is more than 200 years old. My book focuses on the main trends in alternative perspectives on economic activities. These represent alternatives to 'the rational man', an idea of man as mainly interested in maximising self-gain and self-value. "Rational man" quickly comes into conflict with humanistic life values and economic pursuit in his service comes at the expense of nature and other human beings. The problem lies in the one-sided emphasis on rationality rather than with rationality in and of itself, Ove Jakobsen says.

Ove Jakobsens new book was published in March 2017 as part of the series 'Routledge Studies in Ecological Economics'.

Routledge is one of the world's leading academic publishers in the humanities and social sciences.

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Bookstand in Budapest. Professor Ove Jakobsen (left) and Senior Editor, Economics, Andy Humphries of Routledge. Humphries says the book was well received during its launching at the 12th Conference for the European Society of Ecological Economics (ESEE) in Budapest June 20-23, 2017.

Professor Ove Jakobsen of Nord University Business School argues that the future completely depends on our choice of economic system.

Economics in nature

- It is possible to change today's economic system. Change is based on several areas of knowledge, or on what is referred to as 'trans-disciplinarity'. Reality is a whole – it does not consist of separate parts, he argues.

Ove Jakobsen argues that humankind must pursue an economy that is in rather than of nature.

- Economic activity in and of itself is not the goal, but rather a means through which a meaningful life for humankind may be realized. An economy balancing nature and humankind creates opportunity for life surplus. All around the world, thousands of initiatives create local economic cycles. These are examples of small-scale production of goods, based on local resources, even based on local currency, which is used in parallel with the official currency, Jakobsen says.

In his new book, Ove Jakobsen is inspired by thermodynamics, evolutionary theory, anthroposophy and Buddhism.

Totally real. – Reality is a whole, it does not consist of separate parts, Professor Ove Jakobsen writes in his new book ‘Transformative Ecological Economics’.

- Everyday utopia

- Perspectives on systems in balance, in harmony, are a core theme of the book. It is also a book about utopias. The dynamic in our understanding of reality lies somewhere between what we know – and the utopian. We need Utopia in our everyday life. Where there is no utopian thinking, there will be no development, he argues.

Ove Jakobsen believes that humankind needs an organic perspective on reality. An organic perspective would have consequences for how we gather, manage and exchange knowledge, in particular at universities.

- Remain on earth

In his book, Jakobsen quotes the Chilean economist Manfred Max-Neef, who once said: "We have reached a point in our evolution as human beings in which we know very much, but understand very little."

Ove Jakobsen and Manfred Max-Neef are not alone in arguing that a paradoxical gap exists between science and understanding in the human world today.

Stephen Hawking argues that despite the technological and economic development globally, differences between humans increase (see The Guardian December 1 2016).

Hawking has recommended leaving the planet before it is too late, preferably within the next 100 years.

That is because insecurity about whether humankind will endure increases with time. If humankind is to survive as an intelligent species, individuals must journey into space, Stephen Hawking argues.

Professor Ove Jakobsen, on the other hand, argues that the solution lies in changing the global economic system.

- Humankind must change how we produce, trade and consume nature. Ecological economics is meaningful for humankind because it increases the quality of life. Increasing life quality is the whole point of economic activity, Professor Ove Jakobsen argues.

- The world today has a short-sighted economic system. This system undermines nature and our existence on earth. An ecological economy implies a decentralized economic system consisting of several smaller units. Large units have too greater distance between production and consumption. Similar smaller, local units have a shorter distance between production and consumption. Large, globally centralised units lead to a concentration of power. They alienate most humans, and they involve heavy consumption of global energy and natural resources. Ecological economy is, in the word's correct sense, sustainable when it comes to its natural foundations. Such a system provides a sensible alternative to today's global economic system, Professor Ove Jakobsen argues.

Fritjof Capra

The Austrian-American physicist Fritjof Capra, a leading academic within the ecological movement, authored the preface of Ove Jakobsen's new book. Capra visited the Centre for Ecological Economy and Ethics at Nord University Business School in May 2015.

Capra became world famous upon publication of his cult book 'The Tao of Physics' in 1975.

- Fritjof Capra is one of the most experienced and central thinkers of the international ecological movement, and I am grateful that he recommends Transformative Ecological Economics, Professor Ove Jakobsen says in closing.

Translated from Norwegian by Elisabeth Bergquist.