Date of Award

Fall 2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Environmental Policy Studies - (M.S.)

Department

Chemistry and Environmental Science

First Advisor

Maurie J. Cohen

Second Advisor

David Rothenberg

Third Advisor

Michael S. Brownstein

Abstract

It is increasingly acknowledged that in order to reach global and regional sustai nabi l ity goals, economic growth and consumption levels in wealthy developed nations will need to stabilize or reverse. Organizations and projects of a wide variety have emerged and expanded to take on this challenge, and shape the so-called, "new economy". The purpose of this research is to gain a clearer picture of the impacts of efforts to develop a shared new-economy knowledge framework on the broader sustai nabi l ity conversation, and to assess the intellectual institutionalization of same. This thesis focuses in on the influence of four U.S.-based organizations with missions centered on developing and promoting a new economy as a solution to intertwined systems-level crises. Data was collected through interviews of nine individuals affiliated with "new economy organizations" via telephone using a semi-standard questionnaire. Analysis showed a paradigm, rooted in decades-old economic ideas, emerging but underdeveloped. To date, it has not had any noticeable influence on mainstream sustai nabi l ity discourse or dominant economic thinking, and remains politically irrelevant. Recent events present the thrust for a scaling-up of efforts to fully-develop the theoretical framework, a viable model, and proceed with steps to further institutionalize the field. Strategic action, including a concerted branding and messaging effort, and improved coordination with outside groups is recommended so that the paradigm can progress with institutionalization, and garner increased funding and popular relevancy.

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