Professor Jem Bendell

notes from a strategist and educator on social and organisational change

Archive for the ‘Academia and Research’ Category

Despite Everything – Jem’s Quarterly #8

Posted by jembendell on February 7, 2017

What with so much going on in the world to tire our eyeballs and adrenal glands, I’ll keep this Quarterly short. Please read on if you are interested in…

– getting to the root of the malaise in the world, that’s found in our monetary systems

– what environmentalists should do as we realise we won’t beat climate change, or

– some of the latest ideas on meaningful leadership in disturbing times

Otherwise, just delete, walk away from your device, breathe deeply, look at the wind swaying in the branches of the trees, and marvel at the wonder of being alive despite all the troubling stuff going on.

Still here? OK…

Money. It’s the root of all evil. Or rather, the way it’s issued. Things are changing fast, sometimes aggressively, as with demonetisation in India. What happens with money will shape the future of humanity. If there’s one free course you do this year it should be ours, starting Feb 19. Sign up here. Once you have done that course you can join us for our free Money and Society Summit in London in April. You will meet awesome people and be gently inducted into the global network of people who have had the veil taken from their eyes.

The summit is part of my University’s celebration of our 10th anniversary, where IFLAS is doing 10 free events. It will be the 2nd summit we have done, the first was in Bali (someone’s gotta). The video of the super speech my MOOC co-author Matthew is here.

You can also get qualified in this field with the Sustainable Exchange certificate course in London, for 5 days from April 19th. You can attend that for 600GBP without enrolling in the University (here). Or you can enrol, do assignments, and receive University credits of 20 points at Masters level, for 795GBP GBP for UK or EU students, and 1167GBP for others (here)hands up

OK, enough sales talk. In November I had the privilege of giving a keynote speech to a group of climate scholars. It was a bit scary as I decided to talk about climate change as a tragedy, not challenge, and what that means for our future work. My background notes on the talk are here. Things are bad. I don’t hold back. I will post this link on our Sustainable Leaders Linked In group, so it would be good to hear your thoughts on the issues raised, over on that thread.

So what does meaningful leadership look like in disturbing times? I discussed this with consultant Mark Drewell in that enclave of contrarian cultural creatives who still drink great coffee and homebrews. The town of Totnes.  He has had some “fun” chats with police about the coming collapse. As a paid speaker, not arrestee. We recorded it on Facebook Live, so you can see the recording here. That followed my first three attempts at IFLAS live conversations. Lynne Franks, is the PR and womens leadership guru, also known for inspiring the TV show Absolutely Fabulous. We discussed a bunch of things which we labelled “Eat, Pray, Lead” because we were so pleased with ourselves for catching up in Ubud. I also discuss with long term Bali resident Stephen, who is a world expert on complementary currencies. We discussed why development NGOs and donors aren’t very good at backing such innovations, so what next. I then caught up with fellow “Young Global Leader” Toshi, who founded and runs a dynamic NGO bringing eco tech to rural poor communities around the world. We discussed leadership. You can hear him here and feel useless by comparison. Or inspired. Yep, let’s try inspired.

Leadership is a theme that my university works on in various sectors, such as health and education, so we summarised our research and outputs in 2016 here.

If you want to work in developing leaders then the best course you can do for that is, obviously, an MA with me, at IFLAS, and it happens to be less than 8,000 pounds, and can be done with just 4 week-long visits to the UK. The feeder courses have got rave reviews, with people becoming new colleagues as a result (“best educational experience ever” said one senior manager of an environmental group). If interested, then the course info is here, and please contact me after looking at it.   

Our MBAs are also focused on leadership and we launched our alumni network for them recently, bringing together hundreds of our executive students from around the world. We encourage ongoing reflective practice, and so I shared some thoughts on the books I read during 2016, and invited the alumni to do the same. My thoughts on those books are here. I recommend doing it as a gratifying exercise as well as a learning one.

That link to sign up to our phenomenal online course: http://mooc1.communityforge.net

Time to go look at some wind in some trees…

Until April,
Thx for reading, Jem

Upcoming public talks and workshops.

London, April 22, Money and Society Summit, University of Cumbria London Campus, chairing and facilitating. Info here.
Barcelona, May 10-14, Complementary and Community Currency Summit, two papers plus co-facilitating PhD student workshop. Info here.
Lancaster, July 18, Critical Perspectives on Leadership, University of Cumbria. Limited external participation. Request attendance via pete.boyd@cumbria.ac.uk
Brussels, October 12-15, multiple panel presentations at the International Leadership Association conference, on Leadership in Turbulent Times. Info here.

Posted in Academia and Research | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

The Accidental Columnist

Posted by jembendell on January 9, 2017

I just completed an audit of my 2016 outputs, as required of me by the University of Cumbria. It covers things like applications made, bids won, keynotes delivered, papers presented, conferences co-organised, and so on. Looking back, I discovered I wrote 15 opinion editorials (op eds). From The Telegraph to Open Democracy, Huffington Post to the World Economic Forum, over the past 12 months I offered contexts for current affairs that drew on my grounding in critical social theory and political economy.

Prior to 2016, I restricted myself to publishing on topics that I research academically and only those non academic outlets that closely align with my field, such as Guardian Sustainable Business. So something happened last year, to make me broaden my engagement. I think this reflects what is happening with a number of my peers in the sustainable business and finance fields, as we realise the need to engage more broadly on matters of economy, politics, society and culture.

My splurge of opinion arose from irritation, rejection and then collaboration. A year ago, the mainstream media debate on Trident was so mood-driven, without a serious discussion of the issues, that while on a business trip, sitting in a hotel lobby, I penned an opinion piece for the Portsmouth Evening News. I’m from the city, and it’s a Naval town, so I thought a great place to stimulate more informed debate. And I was a bit bored and lonely in that lobby. The News rejected my piece, saying they should have a debate between me and Admiral Lord West instead (which is here). So I reached out to Jo Confino at the Huffington Post, and his support meant I unleashed a stream of writing. Fortunately another friend, Marc Lopatin, was once a professional journalist and ghost writer, and could school me in how to appear less boring in print. Yep, those lessons are ongoing.

Writing is only one form of public engagement, and often with limited impact. But writing demands that you clarify your thoughts and what you think could be useful to say. So it’s a start in a process of broader engagement.

I will publish less in 2017, as I have started writing a book. I will also be finishing academic papers (those things no one reads but we academics have to produce).

In reverse chronological order:

Bendell, J. and M. Lopatin (2016) Democracy Demands a Richer Britain, Huffington Post, 02/12/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016m) Pro-Competition Regulation can Help Fintech and Virtual Currencies Fulfil Potential, European Financial Review, 22/10/2016, See here

Bendell, J. and M. Lopatin (2016) Why New Labour And Talk Of Austerity Must Go, Huffington Post, 13/10/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016l) Businesses Like Apple Need Politicians Who Can Stand Up To Them, Huffington Post, 09/09/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016k) Drug Pricing Threatens Political Flashpoint For Labour, Huffington Post, 24/08/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016j) Monty Python’s Lessons for Leaders: or how spirituality & leadership are close at hand, Huffington Post, 19/07/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016i) Stopping Blair Trashing International Law Means Justice Can Come, Huffington Post, 07/07/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016h) Leadership after Brexit must involve this, Huffington Post, 29/06/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016g) Does capitalism need some Marxism to survive the Fourth Industrial Revolution? World Economic Forum, 22/06/2016. See here.

Bendell, J. (2016f) Our Planet Needs a Purposeful Private Sector, confirms UN, Huffington Post, 20/06/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016e) Carry on flying: why activists should take to the skies, Open Democracy, 22/05/2016, See here.

Bendell, J. (2016d) Financial technology start-ups need power of the EU behind them, The Telegraph, 17/05/2016. See here.

Bendell, J. (2016c) London’s Fintech Boom Needs the EU, Huffington Post, 10/05/16. Listed here.

Bendell, J. (2016b) How can we fund the Sustainable Development Goals? World Economic Forum, 21/03/2016, See here.

Bendell, J. (2016a) Retiring Trident Is a Defence Imperative, Huffington Post, 24/01/16. Listed here.

FOR A ROLLING LIST OF MY PUBLICATIONS, INCLUDING PAPERS, BOOKS, AND UN REPORTS, SEE HERE.  

Posted in Academia and Research | 1 Comment »

Engaging the Climate Tragedy

Posted by jembendell on November 26, 2016

When discussing the sorry state of efforts to address climate change with professionals working on this topic, across sectors, I often hear a reluctance to question whether it is too late to avert catastrophic climate change, or what such a view might mean for the focus of our work. Various objections to this view are raised and prevent open discussion or an evolution of work. Therefore, I decided to deliver a speech at a leading climate business and finance event in Australia, at Griffith University, to seek feedback on my argument that we must now shift focus.

In my keynote, Nov 29th, I’m outlining the following:

  1. There has been some progress on environmental issues in past decades, from reducing pollution, to habitat preservation, to waste management.
  2. Much valiant effort has been made to reduce carbon emissions over the last twenty years.
  3. There have been many steps forward on climate and carbon management, from awareness, to policies, to innovations.
  4. Larger and quicker steps must be taken and can be now that there is COP21 and major Chinese engagement on the issue.
  5. To support the maintenance and scaling of these efforts is essential.
  6. Small steps have been taken on adaptation to climate changes, such as flood defences and planning laws.
  7. Yet these steps on climate mitigation and adaptation are like walking up a landslide. If the landslide had not already begun, then quicker and bigger steps would get us to the top of where we want to be. But the latest climate data, emissions data and data on the spread of carbon-intensive lifestyles tell us that the landslide has already begun.

That the ground is already moving beneath our feet is summarised thus:

  1. The politically permissible scientific consensus is that we need to stay beneath 2 degrees warming of global ambient temperatures to avoid dangerous and uncontrollable levels of climate change, with impacts such as mass starvation, disease, flooding, storm destruction, migration and war
  2. If the world does not keep further anthropogenic emissions below a total of 1,300 billion tonnes we won’t keep average temperatures below that 2 degrees warming.
  3. If we are not already on the path to dramatic reductions we will not keep within this limit.
  4. We are not on such a path, with emissions still at around 50 million tonnes of CO2 a year and the decoupling of growth from emissions minimal.
  5. The uncertainties on the edge of scientific consensus do not suggest a respite, with some increased carbon sequestration through increased vegetation not as significant as the methane emissions not factored into most models, and where Arctic warming is already progressing beyond even the most extreme predictions.
  6. Therefore, we are set for disruptive and uncontrollable levels of climate change, bringing starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war.
  7. The implication is that we need to expand our climate work into a deep adaptation agenda, including resilience, relinquishment and restoration while learning why this tragedy is occurring.

I will explain more about that deep adaptation agenda in a moment. I realise that at this point the reader, or listener, might feeling a bit affronted, disturbed, or saddened. In the past few years, many people have said to me that “it can’t be too late to stop climate change, because if it was, how would we find the energy to keep on striving for change?” With such views, a possible reality is denied to permit a continued striving which has its rationale, therefore, not in serving the expressed goal but in maintaining self-identities related to espoused values. This form of denial is different from outright climate denial, but is also unhelpful, as John Foster argues well in his book After Sustainability (2015).

It is emotionally difficult at first, but we need to move beyond that pretence if we are to remain relevant. In doing so, we open ourselves up to discuss a ‘deep adaption’ agenda as well as exploring why this tragedy has begun and why we have been so poor at responding effectively. I will make some brief comments on these topics before concluding with some thoughts on how we evolve our research accordingly.

A deep adaption agenda will involve increasing resilience, relinquishment and restoration Resilience involves people and communities better coping with disruptions. Examples include how river catchments can better cope with rains, or how buildings can better cope with floods. What I’m calling relinquishment, involves people and communities letting go of certain assets, behaviours and beliefs where retaining them could make matters worse. Examples include withdrawing from coastlines or giving up expectations for certain types of consumption. Restoration involves people and communities rediscovering attitudes and approaches to life and organisation that the hydrocarbon-fuelled civilisation eroded. Examples include re-wilding landscapes so they provide more ecological benefits and require less management, or increased community-level productivity and support.

There will be increasing discussion about what is to be learned from the tragedy of climate change, and honest inquiry existing alongside strategic attempts at framing disruption, degradation and loss to maintain one’s relative power in society.  Disruption, degradation and collapse will be framed by different people as a resulting from foreigners, capitalism, industrialism, individualism, consumerism, patriarchy, anthropomorphism, secularism, liberalism, progressivism, and atomism (where we see things as separate). We are even seeing framing of disruption by religious fundamentalists, who, to my knowledge, don’t discuss climate but seek to respond to the disruption it has already caused. One study by Columbia University argues that in Syria, the worst drought in 100s of years, made worse by climate change, led to 1.5 million people being displaced from their lives in rural areas and increased food prices in cities. Some radical Islamists were able to thrive in this situation with their explanations of cause and solution, replacement stories of personal identity and purpose, and offers of sustenance.

My own analysis is that the West’s response as restricted by the dominance of neoliberal economics since the 1970s. That led to hyper-individualist, market fundamentalist, incremental and atomistic approaches. By hyper-individualist, I mean a focus on individual action as consumers, switching light bulbs or buying sustainable furniture, rather than promoting political action as engaged citizens. By market fundamentalist, I mean a focus on market mechanisms like the complex, costly and largely useless carbon cap and trade systems, rather than exploring what more government intervention could achieve. By incremental, I mean a focus on celebrating small steps forward such as a company publishing a sustainability report, rather than strategies designed for a speed and scale of change suggested by the science. By atomistic, I mean a focus on seeing climate action as a separate issue from the governance of markets, finance and banking, rather than exploring what kind of economic system could permit or enable sustainability.

Given this context, while the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the culture they reflect are helpful for non-climate related matters, given the systemic nature of the impacts of global warming, they may be ill-focused. Instead “minimum survival goals” would be more appropriate, to reduce the rate of increase in starvation, destruction, migration, disease and war. We don’t need consensus on that, but a shift right now from those who have a professional income, skill set and network to work on matters broadly related to climate change and its effects.

The implications for researchers working on climate issues, whether on campaigning, policy, business, finance, include asking the following questions:

On other’s research:

“How might these findings inform efforts for a more massive & urgent transformation to resilience & relinquishment in face of collapse?”

On one’s own research:

“If I didn’t believe in incremental incorporation of climate concerns into current organisations and systems, what might I want to know more about?”

“How might neglected theories of political economy suggest I inquire into this or related topics?”

To explore some of these ideas further, my recent writings may be of interest, on implications for the future of the climate debate, on what sustainability leadership involves, on how we need to heal capitalism, and how we need to ask ourselves tough questions if we consider ourselves climate activists. Better still, these publications will help you explore this emerging “post-sustainability” paradigm:

Benson, M. and Craig, R. (2014) ‘The End of Sustainability’, Society and Natural Resources 27; 777-782

Foster, J. (2015) After Sustainability (Abingdon: Earthscan from Routledge)

Hamilton, C. (2010) Requiem for a Species (London: Earthscan)

Hamilton, C. et al. (eds.) (2015) The Anthropocene and the Global Environmental Crisis (Abingdon: Routledge)

Jamieson, D. (2014)  Reason in a Dark Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press)

Mulgan, T. (2011) Ethics for a Broken World  (Durham: Acumen)

As the point of no return can’t be fully known until after the event, ambitious work on reducing carbon must increase. But a new front of work on deep adaptation is as important today. Understandable emotional traumas from realising the tragedy that is coming, and in many ways upon us already, shouldn’t prevent us from exploring what this probable reality could mean for our choices now. Moreover, from social psychology, there is some evidence to suggest that by focusing on impacts now, it makes climate change more proximate, which increases support for mitigation.

In my talk at Griffith I explore more about the nature and future of leadership in light of this assessment of the climate tragedy.

More on the event is here.

Posted in Academia and Research, Sustainable Development, Talks | Tagged: | 3 Comments »

Do a PhD part-time from anywhere with me: Jem’s Quarterly #7

Posted by jembendell on September 22, 2016

Studying for a PhD can seem like a terrible idea. All that isolated reading and writing, and for what: to disappear into your own world of abstraction? Well it doesn’t have to be that way. Three or more years to explore questions that are deeply important to you, in ways that draw upon a range of scholarship, is an incredible once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. So I look for people who are less concerned about a career in academia or getting the  letters PhD, and more interested in inquiry. I am seeking 2 new PhD students to start next year in the general field of “leadership” or “leadership development” or methods by which individuals can support social change through organisations or networks.

TALKING ABOUT MY BOOK

TALKING ABOUT MY BOOK

I will say more about the PhD in a moment. In the past quarter the future of money and investment was a significant theme of my work. 60 people completed the 4th cohort of our free course on Money and Society. Alumnus of this online course are gathering in Indonesia in December. The next cohort starts in February and you can enrol here. Back home, this summer we hosted retreats for the Finance Innovation Lab and the Positive Money campaign, two initiatives that share our view that the financial system must be transformed to enable more fair and environmentally friendly economies.

The impact investment group I work with has made a significant move forward with a 100 million dollar investment for one of its ventures, to bring a tech smart approach to the Australian superannuation (pension) sector. The potential to enhance business analytics and engagement on environmental, social and governance factors is large. Trimantium also plans an IPO for a business that helps incumbent firms to embrace the disruptive potential of digital technology.

I published a few articles on spirituality, leadership and politics in the Huffington Post. My next keynote is in November, at Griffith University in Brisbane, on the topic of the kinds of leadership we won’t need to stop making the climate crisis worse. You might need to read that sentence again.

Now back to that PhD opportunity. At the University of Cumbria, it doesn’t cost a fortune, you engage a contrarian intellectual tradition of the Lake District, and can come on our great leadership courses but don’t have to be based here all the time, nor do it full time. You also receive a PhD accredited by Lancaster University (a top research Uni). We don’t have funding to offer at this moment. If interested, please write one page only on what issue you are interested in, what literature you know of that relates to that, and why you want to do a PhD. Before that, please read some of my thoughts on “sustainability leadership” here.

In Q4 I will be focusing on a new research project on perceptions of world leaders on what forms of leadership, and leadership development, are necessary to address global challenges. We are seeking an additional sponsor for the report launch at a high level event next year, so if you can help, do get in touch. Below follows a box of info on what is happening at Cumbria Uni which may be relevant if you are based nearby or passing through.

Thanks for reading, Jem

Professor of Sustainability Leadership, Institute For Leadership And Sustainability (IFLAS) and Non-Executive Director, Trimantium Capital. Next update is in 3 months.

Sign up here to receive my Quarterly Bulletin

 

Some relevant offerings from the University of Cumbria

The intersection of governance, ethics and investment – Julie Hutchison IFLAS Open Lecture 4th October, 530pm, Ambleside Lake District Campus, Cumbria University, Ambleside, UK. Info here.
Leading Wellbeing in Rural Contexts – One Day Conference by the Brathay Trust and University of Cumbria. 1st November 2016, Ambleside, UK Info here.
Participatory Mapping as a research Method – Dr Chris Loynes lunchtime research seminar 30th November, 12.00-13.00 Kitching Room, Ambleside Lake District Campus, University of Cumbria, UK Participatory mapping is an approach to collecting, interpreting and analysing data about the places people inhabit. Come and make your own maps of your landscapes and see how they can work as a research tool. Register: Letty.Ashworth@cumbria.ac.uk

The University of Cumbria is always taking applications for its suite of MBA programmes which involve specialisms in sustainability, delivered in partnership with the Robert Kennedy College. Info here.

Posted in Academia and Research, Sustainable Development | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Wild Over Algorithms: Jem’s Quarterly 5

Posted by jembendell on March 14, 2016

I ignored it for a while. But as a Prof, it was time to submit to Google Scholar and let their algorithms pass judgement on my work. So I’ve an h-index of 20 and an i10-index of 35, from over 2000 citations. Have I lost you yet? Well at least most of my publications are now in one place. My latest thoughts are on the “Impasse in Western Leadership” which I presented at a conference on leadership in Asia in January.

I continue to work with Dr Neil Sutherland and Richard Little on a collection on leadership and sustainability that arose from the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival last summer. On April 9 the team at IFLAS are hosting a reunion in Ambleside, which will be a great weekend to share relevant initiatives. These ideas relate to our new MA in Sustainable Leadership Development, which is designed to fit around the work of busy leaders. It kicks off with a week in the Lake District this September.

I now work part time with the University of Cumbria, and am adapting what I know to offer wilderness retreats for leadership development. Working with Georgia Wingfield Hayes, our first Leading Wild retreat is in Costa Rica in January next year. We conceived the Leading Wild retreats because we know the most powerful learning is difficult to enable in typical corporate formats. I like hosting learning where we are ready to let go of what brought us success and think afresh about the situation we face. A wilderness retreat invites that approach. 25% of revenues will go into forest conservation. It’s also 25% off if you book now!

Somewhat sooner, if you are in London on April 13th, please join us near the Docklands for a lecture by the founder of the Positive Money campaign, Ben Dyson. At 530pm he will talk about how government issuance of digital cash could kick start the UK economy and pay down the debt. It’s an opportunity for participants in our free online course on Money and Society to gather. Over 120 are currently completing this MOOC that I developed with Matthew Slater (Global Ecovillage Network) and 8+ will study our Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange in April. This will be co-tutored by Leander Bindewald, whose PhD at IFLAS on the (misleading) discourses of money is getting interesting. I’ll be sharing some of our ideas in a keynote at the Guild of Independent Currencies conference in Liverpool on April 20th.

In February I visited Melbourne to work with my colleagues at Trimantium Capital. They ran an event at Parliament House on the future of superannuation (pension) investments for a more sustainable Australia, and introduced tech investors from Silicon Valley to a range of Australian start-ups. En route back to the UK, I visited the Indian Institute of Directors, to discuss with board directors how we can encourage cultures and systems for firms to seek disruptive innovation for sustainable development. In 2016 I will be doing more work on “impact investing”, to promote the necessary transition to a better economy.

At the Indian Institute of Directors course for non executive directors, where I lectured

At the Indian Institute of Directors course for non executive directors, where I lectured

I’ve listed my future event attendance below… maybe see you in London, Lancaster, Lake District, Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Tokyo, Brisbane, Melbourne, or Boston?

Thanks, Jem

Sign up here to receive my Quarterly Bulletin

Upcoming Lectures, Panels and Event Attendance

Leading Wellbeing: from theory to practice, Co-host of workshop on sustainable currencies, Ambleside, April 9. Link.

The Guild of Independent Currencies Annual Conference, Keynote, Liverpool, April 20th, Link.

Global Prosperity Institute, UCL, Participant, London, May 10. Link.

The World Economic Forum on ASEAN, in Kuala Lumpur, June 1-2. Link.

HELP University, Lecture on “Leadership Lessons from WEF”, Kuala Lumpur, June 3 (tbc)

University of Geneva, CSR Leadership lecture, CSR Summer School, June 30. Link.

Finance Innovation Lab, Fellows Retreat, Ambleside July 1-3.

Cumbria Research and Enterprise Conference, Lecture on Sustainable Enterprise Zones, Lancaster, 8 July.

Positive Money Leaders Retreat, Lectures on Leadership and Currency Innovation, Ambleside, September 9-10.

Forum of Young Global Leaders Annual Summit, Tokyo, October 18-21 Link.

Griffith Centre for Sustainable Enterprise, Open Lecture on “Leadership for Sustainability”, Brisbane, last week of October (date tbc). Link.

The New Metrics Conference, Keynote on “Sustainable Impact Investing,” Boston, November 15-16  Link.

Leading Wild, Retreat Co-Host, Corcovado, Costa Rica, Jan 3-8, 2017 Link.

Posted in Academia and Research, Corporations, Sustainable Development | Tagged: | 1 Comment »

2015 Publications

Posted by jembendell on January 29, 2016

In 2015 my research focused on currency innovation, leadership and corporate social responsibility. I shared some of this research via publications. Here are the links…j-wn2CSbMMczqXXYTG5TFemn3De1qB1wC1UgJVIKg34,5WewfNosQC6fP5dUNe-oD1hg7Icy5uBVH1QSITeVogE

My published academic outputs from 2015

On monetary reform and currency innovation…

Ruddick, W., Richards, M. and Bendell, J. (2015) ‘Complementary Currencies for Sustainable Development in Kenya: The Case of the Bangla-Pesa’ International Journal of Community Currency Research, 19.  ISSN 1325-9547. Download here.

Bendell, J., W. Ruddick and M. Slater (2015) Re-imagining Money to Broaden the Future of Development Finance: What Kenyan Community Currencies Reveal is Possible for Financing Development, Working Paper 2015-10, United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD), Geneva. Download here.

On leadership…

Bendell, J and R Little (2015a) ‘Searching for Sustainability Leadership’, IFLAS Occasional Paper No. 1, University of Cumbria, UK. Download here.

Bendell, J. and R. Little (2015b) ‘Seeking Sustainability Leadership’, Journal of Corporate Citizenship, Issue 60, pp. 13-26(14). Download here.

On corporate social responsibility…

Bendell, J. (2015) ‘What if we are failing? Towards a post Crisis agenda for the Global Compact’, in McIntosh, M. ed (2015) Business, Capitalism and Corporate Citizenship: A Collection of Seminal Essays, Greenleaf Publishing, Sheffield. Download here.

UNCTAD (2015) Enhancing the Contribution of Export Processing Zones to the Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), New York and Geneva. Co-authored by J. Bendell. Download here.

My mainstream articles about this research

On monetary reform and currency innovation…

Bendell, J (2015) From castle to cage: what to do about the housing crisis? Open Democracy, 22 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) What happens to democracy in a cashless society? Open Democracy, 8 April 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) Could electronic parallel currency ease Greece’s big cash freeze? New Scientist, 6 July 2015. Download here.

Bendell, J (2015) 4 sinister threats that loom for the cashless society, New Scientist, 3 June 2015. Download here.

On leadership…

Bendell, J (2015) To save growth, we must leave fossil fuels in the ground, World Economic Forum, 30th November. Download here.

On corporate social responsibility…

Bendell, J (2015) Could enterprise zones help us achieve the Global Goals? World Economic Forum, 14th December. Download here.

But not just official publications…

Like many of us, I blogged on these issues both here and at www.iflas.info and also shared my research via 12 public talks in 5 countries.

To be able to do this research and share it I’m grateful to colleagues at the University of Cumbria, UNCTAD, UNRISD, Impact International, WEF, Grassroots Economics, Community Forge, New Scientist, Greenleaf and Open Democracy.

It is difficult to know what the impact of my publications are. Citations, like via Google Scholar, give you a bit of a feel for that (ooh, an i-10 index of 35!), but that takes time.

Looking back on 2015, I think the main impact on people’s learning and unlearning via the Leading Wellbeing Research Festival and the free online course on Money and Society (which starts again on Feb 21st 2016).

Posted in Academia and Research, Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Cutting Love – 4th Quarterly

Posted by jembendell on December 14, 2015

Every 3 months I send an update. In my 4th I focus on listing some links for resources and events, before a few thoughts on “cutting love.” You can sign up to receive this Quarterly Bulletin.

First up, the culmination of a year’s efforts, today the UN publishes a paper I co-wrote on how Ewtonterprise Zones can contribute to the new Global Goals for sustainable development. These zones are popular with some governments, from India to the UK, but they aren’t without criticism, in terms of what they achieve. Now with changes in trade rules, Zones are going to have to come up with new ways of staying competitive. We argue that embracing social and environmental excellence is a clever response. I explained this in my article for the World Economic Forum. I was pleased to present the preliminary findings at the public forum of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Geneva in October, and the report is launched this week in Nairobi at the ministerial. You can read it here (pdf). I’m grateful to Dr Tony Miller at UNCTAD and also for colleagues at the University of Cumbria for supporting me to do this work.

In September I stepped back from Director of the Institute for Leadership and Sustainability (IFLAS) so I can focus on my research and teaching as a Professor of Sustainability Leadership (as part time) as well as new role with an impact investing fund. I’m pleased Dr Caroline Rouncefield is the Acting Director and joins an Institute with 5 MBAs growing well (over 2000 international students), as well as co-delivery of an MSc in Strategic Policing and a new MA in Sustainable Leadership Development. One of the last projects I worked on was to initiate a partnership with the National Trust, to promote innovation in the heritage and conservation sectors, which was recently launched with some fanfare. Our Deputy Director Dr David Murphy will lead on the project for IFLAS.

Trimantium Capital are the Impact Investors that I’ve joined the board of. Headquartered in Melbourne, Australia, it is making waves for attracting hundreds of millions of dollars into a fund directed at financial services and health technology with a clear social and environmental purpose. As the Paris climate summit started, I shared what some of us impact investors are thinking about the future of fossil fuels, in a WEF article.

Looking ahead from the winter, at IFLAS we will turn our efforts towards to the IFLAS Spring School, for two weeks in both London and the Lake District. It kicks off our new MA, but can also be attended as a stand-alone course. Lots of mid-career execs do our courses and become co-conspirators on future projects. The Spring School will also involve a reunion of participants in the Leading Wellbeing Festival, on April 9th in Ambleside, which will also be the annual meeting of the Cumbria Environmental Network. If you are interested in the new MA or the Spring School, please fire off an email to iflas@cumbria.ac.uk

Some of the ideas behind the MA are contained in a co-authored paper just published by the Journal of Corporate Citizenship (JCC). I’m grateful to Richard Little at Impact International for having schooled me in critical leadership thinking these past 3 years. I also presented the paper at the International Leadership Association in October and will share some similar ideas at the ‘Lead in Asia’ conference in Bali on the 21st January.

The 2nd cohort of our Mass Open Online Course (MOOC) on Money and Society went well, with around 100 people completing all 4 assignments over the month. That means they can now progress to the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange, with the 5 day residential happening in our London Docklands Campus in April (as part of that spring school I mentioned). This labour-of-love for me and course co-tutor Matthew Slater, this free course is “bloody brilliant” and “mind bending”. The next cohort starts on Feb 14th and runs for a month online. Read more and sign up here.

Since my last update I was pleased to receive an award for my past work on cross-sector collaboration for sustainable development. The award made the local news, and my paper on the future of such partnerships (think disruption and revolution) is available here.

That’s nothing compared to being made an honorary fellow of the University of Cumbria. In November, my friend Funmi Iyanda became the first African Woman to be recognised in this way by the University and gave a powerful speech in Carlisle Cathedral. Her talk really reflected our ‘transmodern’ times, where we purposefully and playfully mix old and new ideas from all corners of the world to discover ways of rethinking progress today. Read her super speech here on the IFLAS blog, which is now also home to a regular series of articles on leadership themes.

In October I was pleased to host Professor James Wilsdon’s at our Lancaster Campus to discuss the future of how we are going to be assessed as academics. James is the chair of the Campaign for Social Science. As the University sector has been blasted by austerity measures over the past years and will continue be, James does important work reminding everyone why it’s good that we do what we do and how to do it better. Britain has an incredible heritage of intellectual leadership of international importance, based on the country’s love of learning and its institutions of research and education. Sadly we have now become the most expensive place in the world to get a degree, while many Universities cash in on their heritage in the form of sponsored buildings and uninspiring pack-em-in courses.

Unfortunately just the week after the celebrations in the Cathedral, a large part of Carlisle went underwater due to a storm that damaged many towns, villages and roads in Cumbria. The increased frequency and intensity of extremes of weather is in line with predictions from climate models. The events in Cumbria made climate change that much more personal, as explained in a first hand account by IFLAS Advisory Board member Becky Willis. The beginning of climate chaos is already upon us, with weird weather fuelled by a raised global ambient temperature of 0.8 degrees Celsius over the past century, along with seas warmer by 0.7 agrees and higher by 8 cm, on worldwide averages. The most concerning thing is the extremes, with the north-pole being about 5 degrees warmer than hundred years ago. After the floods people have begun to ask why the investment in flood defences and watershed management wasn’t increased in line with the known growing threat from a disturbed climate. The answer, again, is austerity. The floods are a reminder that you can’t ignore nature because of your politics.

Looking across the country, the cuts in government spending can be seen as cuts in a nation’s commitment to its shared assets. Whether it is flood defences, education or care for the disabled, all the things being cut are the things that reflect a country’s capacity to love itself: to care for its towns, its people, its culture and its future. When a government is cutting back on love, people must fill the void, as has been the case in Cumbria, with a wonderful community spirit emerging. If you want to help support people who have been flooded, please see the Cumbria Foundation or Spirit of Cumbria.

Although an agreement in Paris is important, the key is implementation. To make changes quickly, finance and trade ministers will need to shift incentives, hence the reason for my WEF blog. Ultimately we will need to redesign of our monetary systems, to allow us to thrive without requiring exponential economic growth, as I explain in the free intro to my last book.  A COP21 climate agreement is a piece of the puzzle; but the puzzle is already burning. We will have to live with the weather that’s coming and that calls for us to go deeper in our discussions and planning, as I described for Open Democracy earlier this year.

If any of these topics interest you, then do engage in the Sustainable Leaders linked in group, or see my latest musings at www.jembendell.com

I hope you have a good holiday wherever you are,
Jem Bendell

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Explaining UK Parliament on Syria: Or, what did Stella say?

Posted by jembendell on December 3, 2015

The UK’s Parliament just voted to attack Daesh targets in Syria, which will involve bombing densely populated cities, and with no expressed plan for how this will enable decent people to retake control. The Kurdish forces arent anywhere near, the UK says it wont collaborate with the Syrian government, and the rebel groups are disparate and many allied officially or informally with Daesh.  Maybe the secret plan is to secretly collaborate with Russia and the Syrian government, as that would be too awkward for the Government to admit given that they wanted to bomb the government army just a couple of years ago. So it’s a bit of a mess.

Instead of the recent focus on airstrikes, Britain would have been best to make a concerted effort to show solidarity with the victims of terrorism in France and elsewhere by:

a) allying with other states on cutting funds and arms to Daesh
b) delivering better coordination of intelligence and policing across the EU
c) making amends for helping cause the rise of Daesh by accepting hundreds of thousands of Syrian and Iraqi refugees asap

So what happened?

Could it be that tabloid-regulated politicians, lacking context on commercial drivers of militarism, with a racist lesser-level of concern for the lives of Middle Eastern civilians, voted to be treated nicer on telly?

Well, we can only understand the politicians in the UK through understanding the role of mass media in the UK. The media has constantly sought to keep a focus on superficial and reactionary debate, relegating thoughtful analysis to a few columnists who have niche followings.

Some politicians feel these types of critiques of their thought processes to be churlish and and not respectful of the depth of their thinking. Yet it is not cynical, it is scientific. There is masses of research from social pyschology, linguistics and critical sociology that shows how dominant discourses are shaped through mass media and act on us at a subtle level so that we think we are coming up with our own ideas and feel good about ourselves. We create explanations and narratives to personally cope and progress within dominant narratives in our society. That is why education must always involve attempts at creating critical consciousness, so that more of us become aware of the way dominant duscourses, combined with interest in one’s self esteem, shape our perceptions of issues.

So of course some politicians have an emotionally difficult time convincing themselves of ethical reasons for being able to look good on telly and tabloid. An apparently quite decent chap, Tim Farron looked particularly sweaty, as if different bits of his soul had been squabbling all night. Yet it does appear many politicians have voted suitably in line their own career strategies. For Conservative MPs that’s easy, just stay within the herd of the Tory mainstream. In the case of Labour, some career trajectories require it to return to a wishy washy party of right wing foreign and economic policy with some slightly lefty social initiatives to get the party activists engaged and Guardian readers onside. Why respond to how the majority of one’s constituents and party members are against something when you can switch the focus onto a few abusive people? I wonder if Stella and Chukka’s future autobiographies could copy paste Blair’s autobiography description of the anti-war electorate as a “demonic rabble”. A greater critical consciousness amongst MPs might help them to realise what thought processes they are going through. Sadly most I meet want to talk about “narrative” as if what is right and true is what can be explained quickly to a journalist. Yet the question of narrative should come second, once you have worked out your views.

Some MPs have claimed that they were swayed by last minute oratory (as if they were neutral on fighting fascism before 930pm on December 2nd 2015). It’s not a claim that stacks up if you look at their pre-debate focus on how to make any bombing as caring as possible and suggests once again that MPs play loose with the truth if they spot a handy narrative like “Hilary moved me” (not Clinton folks, we have our own ‘warmongering’ Hilary too :-)). It was quite depressing to see skills of oratory and rhetoric used in a mendacious way in Parliament today. Everything that Hilary Benn said could have led to a conclusion to do something helpful rather than counterproductive bombing without a credible plan. That MPs who voted for the Iraq invasion of 2003 and still havent apologised profusely and slopped off to the back benches, were able to step forward to influence views on Syria shows once again how remiss the mass media has been in holding rulers to account.

What is worse, they still get to pretend to know and respect international law! The UN Charter forbids military action against or within other member states unless invited by that member state, in this case by the Syrian government, or unless an explict resolution is passed mentioning chapter 7 of the Charter. The resolution 2249 says “take all necessary measures, in compliance with international law, in particular with the United Nations Charter” .. Yes, the UN Charter! None of the Security Council members mentioned military action in their comments on the resolution. I learned about this stuff as I was working at the UN in 2002 and 2003, when these matters were high on the agenda. So, as the Syrian government didnt request it, MPs voted for an illegal bombing. We know from the past 14 years that the Foreign Office plays fast and loose with international law… but MPs shoudnt’ be so gullible, unless they want to be.

What is heartening is that despite propagandist mass media, the majority of Brits were against this action for the reason that to sacrifice civilians without having a coherent plan for how to achieve stability in Syria is an unethical judgement to make and likely counterproductive in our efforts against terrorism at home and abroad. Fortunately the lives of British service men and women arent likely to be endangered if good coordination is achieved with the other counties involved, but there is still a risk.

The other glimmer is that hundreds of MP voted against the suck-a-bomb-and-see plan, including the leader of the opposition. They are not cowed by the tabloids. Now the push from them and the public needs to be towards A, B, and C above, and to prepare against the racist hysteria and anti-democratic agenda that will be promoted when the next Daesh murders occur in the UK. We might also press for any strikes to be focused on oil exports, rather than in the cities.

A broader challenge is how to transform British media, as for all the talk of “strong leadership” from MPs and the media in the UK, we just witnessed how many of our politicians arent able to lead themselves, let alone others. So I remain convinced that those of us who mobilise critical social theory in our research, education and training, in all walks of life from politicians to business managers to the police, have important work to do.

 

 

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Towards a Multi-Currency Eurozone

Posted by jembendell on July 6, 2015

The New Scientist magazine has published my views on the creation, in Greece ,of parallel currencies to the Euro, at both local and national levels. Unfortunately the mainstream financial press continue to mislead the public about the potential for a multi-currency system.

Even the basics are poorly reported, such as how the major bailouts for Greece were for the creditors, mostly German and French banks, not for the Greek government or citizens (as even the IMF recognises). But when it comes to the possibility of governments issuing their own parallel currencies, mainstream journalists move into a mode of lampooning and scaremongering.

Typically we see reports of banking analysts scoffing at proposals for new Government-issued currencies as ‘extreme measures’ of ‘money printing’ that are ‘liable to devaluation.’ It is only possible for such views to sound credible because most of us do not understand the way the banks currently create our money. In advanced economies, well over 90 percent of money is issued by commercial banks when they make loans. As the Bank of England had to correct economists last year: new loans are effectively new money. This process is difficult to justify when a bank’s privilege to create money from nothing and lend it to government for a nice profit starts to clash with democracy, as it may now be doing, given the protests against austerity. The mainstream media continues to avoid representing the informed views of those who completely reject a system where banks create money from nothing and use it to buy government bonds and charge interest on them, even at a 44% interest rate, as happened in 2012. It is why in 2011 at a European Broadcasting Union organised TEDx event I called on over 300 people in media to offer more insight on monetary issues.

In the last few years, the fame of the digital currency Bitcoin has helped people to see that there are alternatives to official money. However, the answer for Greece and other countries facing austerity is not Bitcoin, or any currency that the average citizen has to buy with their scarce funds of official money. Instead, what is needed are new currencies that turn the future value that citizens can produce into a form of IOU today: the types I mention in the New Scientist article. There are many such innovations around the world, with particularly exciting initiatives in Kenya, as I explained at the United Nations recently.

The former finance minister of Greece, Yanis Varoufakis, is aware of some of these innovations. He told the Telegraph “If necessary, we will issue parallel liquidity and California-style IOU’s, in an electronic form. We should have done it a week ago.” Better still, he should have done that on Day 1 in office. But it seems the mainstream financial press cant deal with such imaginative ideas. Immediately the Wall Street Journal reported various unnamed sources as guessing the government sacked him for that idea. That’s strange, when previous (less left-wing) Greek governments DID EXACTLY THAT IN 2010, when they issued IOUs for payments of medical supplies as I explain in the New Scientist article. Instead, it seems he stepped aside for the reasons he implied, to stop personality issues being the cause for, or excuse for, a lack of agreement.

Why are the mainstream media so allergic to currency innovation, especially if led by a government? Is it

a) they haven’t got a clue about monetary economics or the history of currency

b) they are so immersed in the delusion that money is wealth that to consider how communities and governments can create their own money threatens their whole world view of how society should function

c) they are deliberately trying to undermine government and community currency innovation in order to please some in the banking sector who do not want nations to escape the debt-enforced transfer of wealth to the few, via austerity and privatisation

d) all of the above

I hope Yannis now has some more time to work on alternative currencies. It is important way beyond the borders of Greece. As I say in the New Scientist:

Although people are focused on what to do in Greece and the Eurozone now, the implications are far wider, inviting all of us to think about the kind of monetary systems we want in a 21st century where humanity seeks to transition to a fairer, more sustainable world….

…Once the Greek government joins their citizens and entrepreneurs in creating alternative currencies that can exist alongside the euro, we will see the emergence of truly multi-currency societies. It would be apt as the birthplace of money, with the drachma over 2500 years ago, for Greece to lead the way into this future.”

In preparing the article I’m indebted to my friend and colleague Tom Greco, who has been in Greece for the past month working with communities, business networks, local governments and some members of the national administration to create a circulating exchange medium on the basis of future tax revenues. He calls them “Tax Anticipation Warrants” but I prefer to dub them The Greco, The idea is this currency:

1. Be spent into circulation by the government,

2. In a form that can be circulated,

3. As payment at par with the euro,

4. To employees, pensioners, contractors, and suppliers,

5. In amounts no greater than anticipated tax and other revenues in a six month period.

6. That they not be given legal tender status,

7. Nor be redeemable for euros,

8. But only in payment to the government for any taxes and dues, at par.

9. That they carry an expiration date to be one or two years after their first issuance.

10. But be exchangeable at par, prior to expiration, for any new warrants that the government might issue in the future.

Godspeed to Tom and other volunteer alternative currency designers in Greece and elsewhere.

Excited? Bamboozled? Take our free course starting 23rd August. www.ho.io/mooc

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Quarterly Updates – sign up

Posted by jembendell on May 12, 2015

I have started producing quarterly updates… yep 4 emails a year on what Im doing. In each on Ill be linking to written outputs and forthcoming events. You can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/beciEb

Here is the text of the latest update:

I want to update you on the festival we are organising this summer on the shores of England’s largest lake. The full programme, which includes over 80 experts, plus lots of outdoor activities is now out: download here. As it is during the summer holidays, we are providing a free children’s programme of professionally run outdoor activities – and babysitting. Half the places have now gone, so book now if you are interested.

The research festival is preceded by a 6 day course on sustainable leadership that I’m teaching. We have some wonderful people joining the course.

In the past months I’ve been on secondment to the UN, and as I’ve been in Geneva I presented my research at a couple of events. In April I presented to the UNECE about the monetary cause of the house price crisis that is affecting many cities. I explained, based on my work in ‘Healing Capitalism’, that the more consolidated a nation’s banking system is, the more their lending is focused on real estate, and so this leads to the asset price inflation of housing. Solutions must involve re-balancing the process of new money creation by commercial banks. That can be achieved by promoting more local banks that focus on lending to businesses (e.g. breaking up RBS) and introducing credit guidance so we move away from a situation where over 80% of new credit creation is for real estate. Other options include removing from commercial banks the priviledge of creating money. Given that, according to research, most politicians dont even realise that commercial banks create over 90% of a nations’ money supply, we have some way to go before sensible policies even begin to be considered. I wrote about these issues in Open Democracy.

In May I presented my research on currency innovation to UNRISD. I drew upon a paper that was published earlier this year where we provide a case study of a local currency created in a slum in Kenya that has already boosted trade by over 20% without indebting anyone nor requiring foreign aid. I noted how the current Financing for Development discussions at the UN have completely overlooked monetary issues and currency innovation. As a result of the discussions, recommendations for including complementary currencies are being submitted to UNDESA.

We had a great response to the Money and Society free online course (a “MOOC”), with over 300 people registering and around 100 completing all assignments and graduating to the alumni forum. Some of the participants joined us on the Certificate of Achievement in Sustainable Exchange in London. The next offering of the free online course starts on August 23rd and runs for 4 weeks, taking about 5 hours of work time per week. Read more about it, and the accredited course, here. Sign up for the MOOC via martin.pyrah@cumbria.ac.uk
Some of my research to develop this MOOC led me to look at trends in financial technology (fintech). In March, I was asked to speak about ethical implications at the main annual conference on fintech in the City of London. I warned that as we move to a cashless society, we risk becoming dependent on oligopolies that have shown themselves to be susceptible to political pressure. I argued that the issues are so important to the future of democracy that the UN, via the ITU, should be involved, not only banking regulators. I wrote up my speech here.

I was out of the country for the UK election, but followed it with interest. As the results came in, I wondered what some contemporary management theories might imply for the future of the opposition parties. So I shared an idea for a Liberal Green Alliance in Open Democracy.

If any of these topics interest you, then do engage in the Sustainable Leaders linked in group, or see my latest musings at www.jembendell.com

In the coming quarter I will be shuttling between Cumbria, London and other locations due to speaking engagements (see below). I hope to see you at the Leading Wellbeing festival in July.

Upcoming talks and workshops:

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