#003 Doughnut Economics

A conversation with Kate Raworth, systems thinker & new best-selling author

 
 

Kate Raworth is one of the world's most brilliant and needed systems thinkers. Her new book 'Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist' is already a best-seller and has been described by George Monbiot as 'brilliant, thrilling and revolutionary'.

 
Kate Raworth. Pic: supplied.

Kate Raworth. Pic: supplied.

Suddenly, people were coming up to me and saying ‘Oh, you’re the doughnut lady!’ And you think ‘What?! What just happened here, overnight?’ This diagram just went viral within the world of sustainability. And I realised, when it comes to mindsets, I realised how powerful pictures are.
— Kate Raworth
 

Tim Jackson, the author of Prosperity Without Growth, says it ‘reclaims economics from the dust of academia.’ Indeed, Kate initially walked away from economics due to the disconnect between how it was being taught, and today’s ‘real world’ concerns. This book is the synthesis of her work since she felt compelled to return to the field, having recognised it as the ‘mother tongue’ of modern society. 

Her experience mirrors that of an increasing number of people in this regard, including myself. So it was great to have an opportunity to speak with her about how her doughnut – yes, of all things - can help us rethink and recreate our economic system for today’s world – to leave no one languishing in the hole, while keeping planetary boundaries safely intact. 

This isn’t just for economists. It’s for all of us. It’s about how we live and organise ourselves – and ultimately how we get to the heart of creating the world we’d rather see. And Kate’s art is not just how to think about this stuff, it’s how to communicate it. 

In literally re-drawing economics for the 21st century, Kate is asking us to engage with how people make sense of things, and by extension how we can make new sense of things. “I realised, when it comes to mindset, how powerful pictures are…. Far more than we give them credit for, they shape the way we think.”

All this gets to the heart of system change - shifting the mindset and the very goals of the system. Though in this case, we’re not so much charged with shifting goals as, tellingly, creating one – to go beyond growth and GDP as proxies for society’s progress, to tracking what’s actually important to us. “We have an economy that needs to grow, whether or not it makes us thrive. We need an economy that makes us thrive, whether or not it grows.”

So if the doughnut is the goal, how do we get there? Kate offers a kind of map, where the obstacles are undeniable, but not inherently insurmountable. And hearing about her interactions with mainstream institutions, and the many ways people of all walks can and are driving this change, feeds a sense of something significant happening here. 

Kate joins Anthony online from her home in Oxford.

Production by Ben Moore & Anthony James.


Get more:

Kate’s website includes brilliant animations & how to buy her book.

The Rethink Economics movement that began with a global student revolt against how economics is being taught in universities.

Kate will be speaking online at the 2nd National New Economy Conference in Brisbane 1-3 September 2017.

 

Music:

Never Give Up On A Good Thing, by George Benson.

Let Them Know, by the Public Opinion Afro Orchestra.


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