On September 27, 2019, the Center for Sustainable Business Practices at the Lundquist College of Business brought together an engaged audience of Ducks, alumni, and community members to learn from Kate Raworth, a self-proclaimed renegade economist. The event took place at the University of Oregon White Stag Block in Portland.
Raworth’s talk presented a new way to think about economic theory. Elaborating on her book Doughnut Economics: 7 Ways to Think Like a 21st Century Economist, she provided an explicit framework for revising traditional economic evaluations. With pointed examples and visual demonstrations, Raworth called into question the tightly held beliefs that growth is unlimited and something we should always strive for. Her new framework, in the form of a doughnut, incorporates the United Nations’ 2015 International Sustainable Development Goals to help illustrate measures of economic success, which Raworth categorizes as the social foundation and the ecological ceiling. The goal is simple: Meet the needs of all people within the means of the planet. Or put simply, stay in the doughnut.
According to Raworth, longstanding theories, such as supply and demand, place currency at the center of market participation, ignoring transactions that don’t involve money and devaluing the environment and social costs to business. Students were shown examples of companies who are ahead of the game, engaging in cradle-to-cradle, biomimicry, and the sharing economy. Through such regenerative and distributive business practices, Raworth’s doughnut economics is a call to action for leaders at every level to adopt and promote a new mindset for economic measures of success.
Raworth’s presentation was especially timely for incoming Oregon MBA students. Throughout our courses, internships, and careers, we will consider doughnut economics as a new model to evaluate economic progress and growth. More information about Raworth’s work—including an interactive doughnut and short animated videos for each of the seven ways to think like a 21st economist—can be found on her website.
—Ashley Gilbert, MBA ’21; Bill Aksnes-Shanks, MBA ’21; and Erik Matisek, MBA ’21