The piece focuses on events that took place at the recent United Nations conference on “gross national happiness,” . It focuses specifically on reactions to the proceedings by the scattering of “young participants [who] looked on with a clear sense of urgency as mainly graying dignitaries, economists, scholars and others pondered ways to gauge progress that go beyond traditional monetary measures,” .
One of the youth who shared their thoughts with Revkin on the conference was Michael Sandmel. Michael was also recently involved with the Transition to a New Economy conference put together by students at Harvard (held March 30 – April 1 2012). Sandmel had this to say regarding the sentiment of youth:
“We had around 140 attendees from universities around the country [at the New Economy conference]. Many of us study in mainstream neoclassical economics departments where interdisciplinary ecological-economics, and the questioning of G.D.P. growth as a primary (or, depending on who you ask, desirable) objective, is still very much fringe thinking. I don’t attempt to speak for all of my peers, but I know that many of us share an enormous frustration with the way in which our supposedly leading institutions teach us about the economy in a way that is myopic, ahistorical, and devoid of nearly any critical conversation about sustainability or human well being.
This is particularly troubling as we regularly see our schools accredit future leaders in business, finance, and government, sending them into a world of 21st century problems with a 20th century toolkit. Many of us have been involved in our local Occupy movements, including Occupy Harvard, and have been trying to use the crisis as an opportunity to push an agenda of plausible alternatives to unsustainable and inequitable finance-dominated capitalism. Many of us will be getting together again in June for the Strategies for a New Economy conference at Bard College and will be in Brazil for the Rio+20 conference and the events surrounding it,”