The School for Wellbeing
The School for Wellbeing is based at the Department of Political Science, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand. It was founded in 2009 together with the Sathirakoses Nagapradipa Foundation, Thailand and the Centre for Bhutan Studies, Bhutan. The School is an independent think tank that analyses and supports the reasearch in policy development and social movements of human well-being issues. It organises public dialogues, debate, seminars, conferences and an annual Summer Course. The aims are to provide a learning space for studies and an evidence-based research platform.
The school started as an independent think tank in 2009. It was the result of the follow-up process to the 3rd international conference on Gross National Happiness (GNH) held in Thailand, 2007. Before the School for Wellbeing took off, a round-table on measuring progress of societies was held together with OECD. This led to a separate National Progress Index programme supported by Thai Health Foundation and still underway.
The School for Wellbeing took a more unexpected path, and invited Nobel laureate Joseph E. Stiglitz who delivered public speeches for the business sector, UNESCAP and at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This was soon after the Stiglitz-Sen-Fitoussi Report was released and a social enterprise affiliated with the school published the full report in Thai language, as well as a popular version to facilitate public debate. In this debate Nic Marks co-author of The Happy Planet Index (also translated into Thai) played an important role, as well as, later, Robert Biswas-Diener; and earlier Matthieu Ricard author of Happiness. A Guide To Developing Life’s Most Important Skill.
By now, under the influence of resource persons Vandana Shiva (Earth Democracy) and Helena Norberg-Hodge (The Economy of Happiness) who both spoke in Bangkok, the School for Wellbeing started a programme titled Towards Organic Asia (TOA), supported by CCFD-Terre Solidaire (France). The TOA action-research working group is preparing a project comparing wellbeing impacts of organic and industrial agriculture. The purpose of the project is to initiate and facilitate public policy dialogue dealing with contrasting visions on food security. For this reason a set of appropriate indicators will be proposed and discussed, taking into account not only technical agriculture criteria but also the 9 domains of the GNH Index, as developed and applied in Bhutan. The Centre for Bhutan Studies is a founding partner of the school. As well as new views on full cost accounting (integrating externalities) and the so-called natural capital approach taking into account the economic value of environmental, social and cultural capital. The set of indicators will be debated vis-à-vis the rice-bowl index developed by seed and chemic giant Syngenta, which leads a consortium of business partners under the name New Vision for Agriculture dominating almost the full global food supply chain, scaring many farmers and producers’ associations. The School aims to co-create a fair platform for academic debate including the relevance of indicators for sustainable development and the wellbeing impacts of various business models: big business versus networks of small-scale social enterprises.
The point of view of the School for Wellbeing think tank is that developing indicators makes sense only once applied to real policy development dilemmas. Application by means of multi-stakeholder scenario-building exercises and open dialogue will send strong signals to policy makers in all sectors: governments, the business sector and civil society.
We seek partners in Asia, Europe and elsewhere in the world, who are interested in critically supporting this project. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org