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The UCL Institute for Global Prosperity aims to transform how we make decisions, the kinds of evidence and reasoning on which our decisions are based, and the tools (cultural, policy, legal) we have at our disposal.

UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

One of today’s pressing concerns is how to build, enhance and ensure the sustainable prosperity of human societies across the globe. A prosperity beyond material measures of individual wealth, where society is underpinned by the principles of fairness and justice.

Current economic models, for example, bring prosperity for some, but not for all, creating stark inequalities.  Added to this are challenges such as an ageing population, migration, sustaining the environment and managing climate change.

We need a complete understanding of what long-term prosperity and wellbeing is and how it can be achieved.  Professor Henrietta Moore, who will head up the Institute explains: "Sustainable prosperity is the major challenge of our age. We need to pull together intellectual and imaginative resources for the sake of generations to come."

To confront this task a radically different kind of knowledge is required. It needs to be produced and driven by problems, outside and in-between established disciplinary ‘containers’ and in a way that it enables the development of different kinds of models and metrics, identifies hidden interrelations and hitherto overlooked global socio-political and socio-economic dynamics. It needs innovative thinking to ask the right questions and to find appropriate answers.

The Institute for Global Prosperity sets out to develop such cross-disciplinary knowledge as an evidence-base for novel approaches to achieve sustainable societies. It will launch in October 2014 with social anthropologist Professor Henrietta L. Moore, UCL chair of Culture, Philosophy and Design, as its founding director.

Our programmes

We're planning to offer a Masters in Sustainable Global Prosperity, beginning in September 2016. 

When we have more detailed information we'll post it on the site.  You can also register your interest below and we'll email you with details when they're available.

Register your interest

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Our research

At root the challenge of sustainable prosperity is a social one. It is about the challenge to find ways to envision and co-ordinate human actions to deploy scarce resources in a manner that is sustainable over the long term and benefits all in a fair manner. It is about the challenge to transform how decisions are made, the quality of evidence and reasoning on which they are based, and the tools (cultural, economic, policy, legal) we have at our disposal to implement our decisions.

The Institute for Global Prosperity follows a unique approach to the production of knowledge that will transform our knowledge of and approach to sustainable prosperity based on four principles:

  1. Multidisciplinarity across the social sciences, and between the biological and earth sciences and the social sciences
  2. Evidence-based and problem-led research
  3. Co-production of knowledge with users and communities
  4. Comparative global focus

The Institute brings together multi-disciplinary expertise from across UCL and the global academic community. Of particular importance to its approach is the way in which the Institute will integrate non-academic expertise in its approach and into its knowledge generation, by engaging with decision-makers, business, civil society,  and communities.

Our people

The Institute for Global Prosperity will be headed up by leading Anthropologist Professor Henrietta Moore, who will join UCL from the University of Cambridge in October 2014.

The Institute will also draw on expertise from across UCL's ten faculties, and on a global network of leading experts in diverse disciplines in the form of a Global Fellows Programme.  

Professor Henrietta L. Moore
Director of UCL Institute for Global Prosperity
Chair of Culture, Philosophy and Design

Henrietta L. Moore is a distinguished social anthropologist and is actively involved in the application of social science insights to business, the arts and public policy. She is Chair and Co-founder of SHM Productions Ltd, a strategy and insight consultancy based in central London, and currently William Wyse Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge.

Read more

IGP Challenge 2015

IGP Challenge 2015

The Challenge

By 2030 it’s predicted that over half of the world’s population will live in cities. We must start thinking now about securing the future prosperity of London’s inhabitants, as well as those who work and sustain the city. Predictions beg the question, is present-day London – a city built largely in the 18th and 19th centuries – a suitable blueprint for the 21stcentury?

Daniel Raven-Ellison has proposed that Greater London should become a national park.  At the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity we believe that imaginative and provocative ideas like this deserve serious consideration. And we’re inviting UCL researchers, including postdoctoral researchers and postgraduate students to participate in the project by conducting research and suggesting what it would take to realise Daniel’s vision.

The competition opens 16 October and closes at 5pm on 2 February 2015.

Visit the Challenge webpage for more information


Is it possible to end global poverty?

30 March 2015

Professor Henrietta Moore has contributed to a world-wide debate on the goal to end poverty by 2030. The economic growth rhetoric simply does not hold in practice, which means that innovative ways to tackle poverty have to come from somewhere else.

You can watch and listen to Prof. Moore speaking with BBC World's Linda Yueh on the BBC.

New paradigms for a prosperous London: inspiration from communities' co-creation

30 March 2015

By Maria Evangelina (Eva) Filippi

What can entrepreneurial courage, urban communities’ participation and sustainability endeavours bring about together? A great number of benefits to the social, economic and environmental agendas that put pressure on London, as an RCA discussion group showed.

The leaders of EcoMotive, LeapAD and Repowering London were brought together last Wednesday as part of the RCA Sustain Talks cycle. These initiatives are dealing with different contemporary urban challenges, from affordable housing provision to sustainable food waste management and energy generation. They all share a common denominator, namely: the understanding of these urban challenges as a real opportunity for innovation and change that transcends ‘normal’ ways of tackling every-day problems.

EcoMotive, a Bristol-based social enterprise, facilitates custom-build and self-build projects as a new housing paradigm. LeapAD is a cross-sector partnership developing small-scale urban anaerobic digestion (AD) pilot projects that aim to turn food waste into clean renewable energy, reducing carbon and methane emissions and supporting local food growing. Repowering London is an organisation seeding solar energy co-ops across Brixton, Hackney and Vauxhall, with the ultimate goal of building energy resilient empowered communities.

Besides the evident benefits in terms of environmental sustainability and resource-use efficiency, these projects advocate for more radical changes towards social justice – concentrating on tackling youth unemployment, supporting social diversity, and empowering disadvantaged minorities – and a new economic system that underpins social-natural relations: the creation of an organic circular economy from the ground up, for example.

The event was rounded up with a Q&A session, which resulted in a lively discussion with the audience about the main barriers to these kinds of projects. The administrative bureaucracy of City Councils with its costly and lengthy procedures combined with citizens’ apathy (that is, a generalized feeling that many residents want change but without taking part of that change) sat at the top of the list of priority changes.

A consideration of the quintessentially local nature of community-based projects also highlighted the question of scale. How might a great initiative in one neighbourhood translate to another, or be scaled up?

As an urban lab, London is catalysing original bottom-up approaches for localizing the planning and management of socio-ecological resources. The extent to which these projects can turned into something more than piecemeal endeavours depends on us. RCA Sustain Talks are precisely set out to provoke big ideas and networked initiatives.

Join the next talk on Designing Regenerative Agriculture on 15 April.

'What should the UK do about foreign aid?' Professor Henrietta Moore highlights some surprising uses of aid money

20 March 2015

As the UK Government nears the passing of a bill to ringfence 0.7% of the UK's gross national income for foreign aid, the questions about its use and its effectiveness in bringing about an end to poverty are inevitably brought to the fore.

The altruism of the UK Government, who will be the first nation in the G7 to honour a financial commitment asked for in 1970, is brought into doubt by suggestions of aid money being used to exercise 'soft power' over developing nations.

Professor Henrietta Moore brings to bear some of the surprising uses of aid money, including being used as financial incentives for major supermarkets to buy in African produce, in order to bring about a fair and intelligent debate on this contentious issue.

Read the full article on BBC News.

Showcasing a contested future: musings on Nesta's FutureFest 2015

19 March 2015

By Dr Tuukka Toivonen

Is the future to be celebrated or dreaded? The beauty of Nesta’s 3rd FutureFest conference was that it tried hard to err neither on the side of exuberant techno-optimism nor on that of gloomy doomsday scenarios. Instead, it made a point of showcasing a deeply contested future that cannot be tamed with catchy prefixes such as ‘digital’, ‘smart’, ‘resilient’ or even ‘sustainable’. As such, it delivered an event with both strong public appeal and a critical consciousness—a genuinely rare achievement.

As was to be expected, FutureFest came embellished with some ingenious artistic and technological offerings, from a brain-controlled virtual reality machine called Neurosis to a sensual robot with nimble fingers that gently explore people’s faces. It was nevertheless clear from the start that the uncertain future of our digital democracies occupied the core of the conference agenda.

The choice of Edward Snowden (who appeared via a video link from Russia) as the headline act of Day 1 underscored Nesta’s willingness to take the theme of democratic futures quite seriously and to embrace its many controversies. Snowden’s key message was stark and urgent: Citizens will grow increasingly disempowered vis-à-vis their governments and large corporations that have developed formidable surveillance abilities. Real digital democracies can arise only if the privacy of online communications can be credibly protected through techniques such as end-to-end encryption.

Arguing with the future

It’s impossible to provide a balanced overview of all FutureFest highlights here—there were a total of 35 sessions on the first day alone, organised into four parallel streams—but let me highlight a few other voices from Day 1 (I did not attend Day 2).

Geoff Mulgan (Nesta’s CEO) set the tone for the two-day extravaganza through a fast-paced opening presentation in which he invited participants to ‘touch, taste and argue with’ the future. He hoped FutureFest attendees would leave the event feeling empowered to ‘shape things to come’ as active citizens.

Taking to the stage immediately after Mulgan, Baroness Helena Kennedy QC reminded us that democracies, facing an era of rapid change, cannot rely purely on law as their foundation but require ‘a template of values’ and the ability to make on-going efforts to share power. Neither Mulgan nor Kennedy thus proposed any easy answers to present dilemmas but instead put forth a view of democracy as a living organism that needs to be continuously re-shaped and re-created to remain viable.

Meanwhile on the ground floor, the ‘After the Happiness/Wellness Agenda’ debate engaged an audience of about 150 people in discussion on whether happiness research should guide policy and whether happiness was a suitable arena for policy intervention to begin with. Many sceptical voices were heard (‘we now have a vast happiness industry selling its own distorted versions of happiness to us’; ‘it’s offensive to interfere so paternalistically in people’s behaviours’) while the four panellists highlighted that much of public policy continues to ignore even the most basic lessons from happiness research (e.g. that human interaction is among the single greatest boosters of happiness).

A subsequent debate on whether the future needs elites heated up even further, though with at least the panellists agreeing that it might be hard to entirely do away with elites even in the age of crowd-sourced constitutions. Adrian Wooldridge posited that ‘“people” as such can’t make important decisions as they comprise contesting interest groups—what we will need is pluralistic elites’. Owen Jones made the simple yet profound point that governments must proportionally present the lived experience of their citizens. The problem is, according to Jones, that politicians in the UK come predominantly from the affluent professional classes, rendering issues such as (social) housing into blind spots as elites fail to relate to citizens’ realities. Helen Kennedy’s spirited insistence that women’s lived experiences, in particular, should be better represented by the system, provoked a roaring applause.

Straight talk

After discussions such as these that, while lively, remained within conventional limits, Matthew Herbert’s talk—that began with a description of the political potential of sounds, including those made by 25,000 chicks being born at exactly the same moment on a mechanised farm—felt refreshingly authentic. Herbert (a musician by background) gave us a vivid sense of just how disturbing the gap between stated sustainability aspirations and actual practices is within today’s capitalism. In a world of privatisation, financial crime that goes largely unpunished, ‘flattened’ language and Apple’s incredible dominance, we have little power and the best we can do is try to crowdfund alternative worlds (hence Herbert’s ‘Country X’ project).

Interrupted briefly and somewhat awkwardly by Ije Nwokorie’s optimistic take on how automation could make us all more creative, the activist tone continued with the designer star Vivienne Westwood who called for an end to ‘vulture capitalism’. She started with a slide displaying a largely unliveable planet—that with current rates of global warming seems a realistic prospect—and spoke bluntly about capitalism as a system controlled by a handful of short-sighted elites and about development as a huge Ponzi scheme.

A spectacular confusion?

After a day full of such contrasting views on the future of democracy, capitalism, the Internet, money, wellbeing and innovation, no FutureFest attendee could have left Vinopolis thinking that the future remains uncontested. For many, it might have all been just a bit too much to take in during a single day. But then again, in order to shape the future of our ‘digital’ democracies we may need to have a vivid sense of just how overwhelming the task will be.

Indeed, FutureFest-goers were invited to contemplate an incredible range of complex issues (including, but not limited to, the fact that a huge share of existing occupations may soon disappear; that schools and parents should teach all kids to code; that everyone will need to become competent at technologies of de-centralisation, from blockchains to cryptocurrencies; that economic turmoil will prevail and possibly get worse; and that artificial intelligence will develop so rapidly that it may learn how to perform even ‘creative’ jobs on our behalf). It’s a lot to digest—a spectacular confusion of trends, possibilities and complications to say the least. And rather ironically, at least if we are to believe Paul Dolan on the main drivers of happiness (essentially, deep immersion in one task at a time and enjoyable human interaction), this confusion will almost certainly make us unhappier as technologies of distraction really take off. Until, that is, we ourselves become extinct through catastrophic events that possibly include the speedy rise of a superintelligence that may turn human happiness into a non-issue in a matter of days.

Living principles, experimental citizens

Assuming for a moment that there is still something to be done about the future, what does FutureFest’s inventory of dilemmas imply about the broader challenge of bringing about sustainable prosperity in our societies? The following two points represent my own main take-aways:

(1) Any kind of sustainable prosperity will be extremely difficult to achieve amid frenetic socio-technical changes without continuous reflection on core principles and without their continuous updating and active re-sharing (an insight which this year’s FutureFest organisers appeared to want to communicate clearly through inviting Helen Kennedy and the oracle-like Edward Snowden who stated that ‘sometimes it may be irrational [selfless] commitment to democratic principles that nations need in order to survive’); and

(2) New organisational techniques (new ‘orgware’) are quite probably needed to help societies deal with all the complexity and accelerating change while re-inventing democracy. These might range from mindful listening as a core democratic method (as suggested at FutureFest by both Owen Jones and Matthew Herbert) to innovation hubs, labs, civic hacking collectives, de-centralised online organisations and smarter event formats.

The final point—devising smarter public events—may sound mundane but could be the easiest and cheapest technique to implement. Why not use events like FutureFest and various university-based conferences to ignite self-organising teams of citizens who (serendipitously) find they share an interest in a particular challenge? Why not encourage them to form into ‘mobile civic labs’ of some sort to produce solutions that can then be presented at the following year’s (or month’s) event? Notwithstanding experimentation with digital participatory platforms, FutureFest 2015 largely missed this opportunity to actively ‘incubate’ networks and groups of motivated citizens. Perhaps in the next few years we will finally witness the birth of a genuinely participatory large-scale innovation conference, fulfilling Mulgan’s dream of public empowerment through direct engagement—and constructive disagreement—in the face of contested future.

Later in the year, the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity will be co-hosting a two-day conference that will implement these kinds of innovative incubation methods. Putting digital participatory platforms to use, the conference will engage citizens across generations and geographies.

Sign up to the IGP newsletter to receive updates on the conference and other projects.

The Commonwealth: a giant laboratory for new economic and social models

Monday 9 March 2015

The concept of a Commonwealth seems somewhat antiquated. Its member states are slowly distancing themselves from the former British Empire, apparently in agreement that the Commonwealth is due to be consigned to history books and declared an irrelevant concept for the present day.

Professor Henrietta Moore argues that the Commonwealth is 'perfectly placed to become a giant laboratory for the new economic and social models we need to adopt if we’re going to tackle some of the biggest problems faced by humanity.'

Read the article in the Independent.

The end of development: Henrietta Moore debates the relevance of 'development' in the 21st century, to be broadcast on BBC World Service and BBC Radio 4

Monday 2 March 2015

In a lecture delivered as part of the BBC World Service's 'A Richer World' season, Professor Henrietta Moore argued that the top-down model of development is outdated. The 21st century, its particularities and peculiarities, requires a new set of ideas about how to improve others' lives.

Prof. Moore's lecture was delivered at Oxford University's Blavatnik School of Government. It will be broadcast on BBC World Service on Saturday 7th March at 19.06 and will be repeated on Sunday 8th March 12.06 GMT.

The lecture will then be broadcast on BBC Radio 4's Analysis on Monday 9th March at 20.30.

To access the broadcast visit the BBC Radio 4 Analysis page.

The Greater London National Park City conference shows strong support for the green initiative

Tuesday 24 March 2015

The Reimagine London conference held at the Southbank Centre last week saw planning practitioners, campaigners, academics and politicians gather to show their support and share their ideas for what a Greater London National Park would look like and how it would work.

Attendees and speakers included Sir Terry Farrell CBE, Judy Ling Wong CBE and Chief Executive of the John Muir Trust Stuart Brooks.

The idea of making London the first National Park City has gathered momentum since it was first conceived by National Geographic explorer and Geography teacher Daniel Raven-Ellison last year. Daniel’s vision features London as a biodiverse landscape boasting enough substantial natural resources and cultural capital to be worthy of a new title: a National Park City.

The point of the National Park City, is seems, is to inspire innovation. The campaigners know that, free of any precedent, the Greater London National Park initiative can define a National Park City, what it aims to achieve and how it achieves its aims. Its foundation is people power. UK Director of the Black Environment Network Judy Ling Wong said: ‘The Greater London National Park goes beyond pure natural conservation to social wellbeing. It has enabled us to reach into our hearts to realise the possibility.’

To learn more about the Greater London National Park City initiative, visit the Greater London National Park* website.

'Let's be honest about immigration': Prof. Henrietta Moore's article in the Telegraph demands a reconsideration of the dominant immigration narrative

Friday 20 February 2015

In an article for the Telegraph, Professor Henrietta Moore debates the appropriateness of media responses to immigration. She uses the facts to bring to bear a less-discussed question: why are so many people globally on the move?

If we are to address immigration, Prof. Moore calls for a deeper understanding of 'why people would be willing to uproot their whole lives and move to a strange land in the first place'.

The question, of course, turns the burden of responsibility on the 'global north' and our resource-demanding habits.

Read the full article on the Telegraph website.

The Humanities in Europe Interview Series features Henrietta Moore

Tuesday 17 February

As part of an interview series curated by the Centre for the Humanities at Utrecht University, Professor Henrietta Moore speaks about the significance of interdisciplinary research. She touches on her solutions-based approach to research, preferring to be released from disciplinary categories.

'Why Scandinavia is not the model for global prosperity we should all pursue': Professor Henrietta Moore highlights the flaws in a seemingly ideal system

Monday 1 December

According to major wellbeing and prosperity indexes, Scandinavian countries are thriving, prosperous societies with low inequality. One might be tempted to ask why the rest of the world is not emulating their models?

In an article for the Guardian Professor Henrietta Moore reframes the question. She asks: 'Should we all be aiming to be Norway? Indeed, is that goal even desirable?'

Prof. Moore presents an alternative narrative for Scandinavia, which tells a very different story from that usually put forth. She touches on issues of sustainability and over-reliance on non-renewable energy sources, and highlights their carbon impact. The unique nature of the Scandinavian nations as small, homogenous populations is cited as another reason not to emulate their model.

Prof. Moore implicitly calls for a more holistic and balanced attitude to models for prosperity.

To read the full article, visit the Guardian Sustainable Business page.

Professor Moore Announces the IGP Challenge 2015

Thursday 16 October

Professor Henrietta Moore has announced the Institute for Global Prosperity Challenge 2015, which gives UCL researchers the opportunity to shape Greater London and to win £1,000.

The competition, which opened 16 October and closes 2 February, invites research teams to progress a vision for Greater London that has been proposed by Dabiel Raven-Ellison. Daniel's idea is to turn Greater London into a unique type of national park: a National Park City. The National Park City is an urban habitat, where wildlife, the built environment and cultural heritage are valued equally.

The team of researchers who find evidence for the benefits of the national park and come up with an innovative means of organising, structuring and funding the park will be invited to co-author a report with the Institute for Global Prosperity and the Greater London National Park inititive.

For information on eligibility and how to apply, visit the Institute for Global Prosperity Challenge webpage.

Two new events series launches the Institute for Global Prosperity

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Renowned social anthropologist Professor Henrietta Moore, head of the newly formed UCL Institute for Global Prosperity, opens up the debate on the most pressing challenge of our age – achieving long-term prosperity for the whole of humankind – with two new events series.

Professor Moore will open the ‘Soundbites’ series, on 16th October, Professor Moore posing the question ‘Why Prosperity Now?  The soundbites are short public events that provoke debate on a range of economic, social and cultural issues that influence global prosperity. Speakers will ask a searching question, propose an answer and then invite attendees to have their say.

On 13th November, Professor Karel Williams of Manchester University begins the ‘UCL Global Prosperity Seminars’ series. His seminar, ‘The Foundational Economy and the Challenge of Prosperity’, focuses the discussion on Britain and will follow a more traditional seminar format.

Through the Institute for Global Prosperity, Professor Moore aims to cultivate multidisciplinary research practices in order to stimulate relevant debate and original solutions. Equipped with a diverse range of research interests, including new technologies, contemporary art and public policy, Professor Moore hopes to inspire a new generation of academics and professionals to cut across academic disciplines and bridge professional sectors in their endeavour to reveal pioneering resolutions to global problems. She joins The Bartlett from the University of Cambridge, where she is William Wyse Chair of Social Anthropology.

Download the poster for the next event, 'Why prosperity now?' (pdf)

Henrietta Moore honoured by Queen's University Belfast

Friday 4 July 2014

Henrietta Moore has been awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Social Science from Queen's University Belfast for services to the social sciences. 

She says of her award: 'I am thrilled to be awarded an Honorary DSSc from Queen’s University. The study of social science today is a vital part of the academic life of a university, and has the potential to spark real, positive change, both locally and on a global scale.'

Watch the ceremony here: http://bit.ly/VKEu4Z

Henrietta Moore discusses civil society at Hay Festival

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Henrietta Moore appeared at the Hay Festival on Wednesday 28 May to talk about changes in ‘politics from below’ and ask whether there is something genuinely new in kind about the way in which civil society is now operating. 

She was joined by video link by Ricken Patel, the co-founder of the global protest movement AVAAZ. 

Listen to 'The future of civic activism' on UCL's SoundCloud: https://soundcloud.com/uclsound/sets/ucl-also-seen-appearing-in

Professor Moore appears on Radio 4

Thursday 12 June 2014

Henrietta Moore joins Laurie Taylor and Sarah Franklin, Professor in Sociology at the University of Cambridge, to talk about Professor Franklin’s study into the meaning and impact of IVF. Has the creation of new biological relatives transformed our notion of kinship? 

Listen to Professor Moore on BBC Radio 4's Thinking Allowed, from 20.30 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0460j01

The goals for the new Institute for Global Prosperity

Wednesday 21 May 2014

"Together, we want to rethink and re-model the evidence base that is needed, and reappraise the measurements used to understand global societal change. We aim to develop radical new starting points to deal with the challenges of sustainable global prosperity."

Henrietta Moore writes in New Start Magazine, laying out the goals for the new Institute for Global Prosperity.

Read more: www.newstartmag.co.uk/your-blogs/we-need-a-new-model-of-economic-growth

Henrietta Moore discusses the new Institute for Global Prosperity

Wednesday 15 May 2014

"What we need is a robust set of research evidence, and we need to deliver that evidence to those who make the decisions." 

Professor Henrietta L. Moore appears on BBC World Service - Business Daily to discuss the new UCL Institute for Global Prosperity. 

Listen again, from 6 minutes: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ypllb

About us

Our vision

Our vision is of a prosperous global future.  A society underpinned by the principles of fairness and justice and a realistic, long-term vision of humanity's place in the world.  A place where societies co-exist and interact effectively and where key players seek to improve prosperity, locally and globally. 

Our mission

We aim to transform how we make decisions, the kinds of evidence and reasoning on which our decisions are based, and the tools (cultural, policy, legal) we have at our disposal.

This will involve challenging assumptions, re-writing the questions and creating new definitions.  It will involve looking at our basic institutions and considering radical new approaches.

Contact us

Professor Henrietta L. Moore

Director, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 (0)20 3549 5739


Dr Mary Davies

Research Associate, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 (0)20 3108 9919


Joni Browne

Institute Administrator, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity

Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT

Tel: +44 (0) 20 3549 5705