IPID Talk 2/4: How free are we? Lifestyle choice, global responsibility, the end goal of development, and the meaning of life

Date: February 4
Time: 12:00-1:00 pm
Location: Room 70, Minnesota Population Center (Willey Hall)

The next IPID talk will be on Friday, February 4th at 12:00 noon in Room 70 of the Minnesota Population Center (50 Willey Hall).  All are welcome!  Click here for a campus map.

The topic will be: "How free are we?  Lifestyle choice, global responsibility, the end goal of development, and the meaning of life."  Peter Ehresmann from the new Master of International Development Practice (MDP) program at the Humphrey Institute will be the host. 

In preparation for the talk, please read these short articles (but come either way!):

1) Ehresmann, Peter.  "Life as Freedom: A critique of Sen." (October 2010).  Unpublished. (Sen - Life as Freedom - A critque of Sen (Peter Ehresmann) Oct 2010.doc)
a.      (If needed) A brief summary of Amartya Sen's Development as Freedom book: http://dannyreviews.com/h/Development_Freedom.html

3)  Two VERY short news articles about the dramatic increase of 1,000 and now 2,000 new cars on the road in Beijing every day.
Huang, S. & Wills, K. "China grapples to reduce cars in congested Beijing."  (2010, December 8).  http://in.reuters.com/article/idINIndia-53425920101208
BBC.  "Record car ownership in Beijing." (2008, January 14).    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7186635.stm

5) The Story of Stuff 20 min video www.storyofstuff.com  (if you haven't watched it already)

Discussion Questions:
1)     Cars in China: How much freedom does one really have to live the life one wants?
2)     The trend of older generations in the US assuming their children will have a better quality of life than they had is changing.  Is this necessarily bad and cause for doom and gloom?  Is it really possible to continually improve the human condition (The Redistribution of Hope)?  What does it look like and how can we measure it?  GDP, HDI, Happiness, Social Capital..?  That is, what ought the end goal of international development be?
a.      Sen answers in Development as Freedom that every person ought to be able to have the freedom to choose to live the kind of life they deem worth living.  Is this socially, economically, and environmentally possible?

3)     How might we really develop into a global society that sustainably follows Sen's "Development as Freedom" or "Life as Freedom"?  

4)     Freedom VS. The Global Responsibility of Lifestyle Choice: If everyone cannot live at an average US level, on what ethical basis should I?  How ought I to spend my life and in what kind of lifestyle?
"Am I more important than another person, so selfish as to knowingly use significantly more than my fair share of global resources that both denies others their Senian freedom (and arguably their right) to their fair share of global resources, to not change my lifestyle?  Am I too pretentious to bicycle, take mass transit, or carpool instead of driving a car alone?  What if every Chinese and Indian drove their own car to work or school every day, let alone everyone in the world?  Am I now encroaching on your freedom to drive a car?  Or are car drivers encroaching on our freedoms to clean air, less climate change, a viable future for our posterity, and the security of saving some oil for our future?  What about the people who would lose their jobs at the automobile plant if we all stopped buying cars, is that reason enough to continue buying?  Who's freedom is "more equal" than others'?"  (Ehresmann)

5)     How do you imagine a reformed sustainable world economy of the future?  What does it look like?

6)     The richest countries are not necessarily the happiest countries.  How might we reassess the underlying assumption that developed countries should become more like developed countries if they want to improve?  Are there lessons for the developed world from developing countries - truths about life and happiness - that have been lost?
7)     What is the future of the West (US) with a rising BRIC (Brazil, India, China)?
8)     Can capitalism, now via Multi-National Corporations, lead to sustainability, social justice, and peace?


12:00-12:15pm Introduction of the topic.

12:15-12:50pm Structured discussion. 

12:50-1:00pm   Last thoughts.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Rachel Garaghty published on February 1, 2011 2:36 PM.

IPID Open House and Sierra Leone Panel was the previous entry in this blog.

How free are we? Lifestyle choice, global responsibility, the end goal of development, and the meaning of life is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.