A Good Life for All

Posts by Juliana Essen

The “Right Development” Approach

Following last week’s post that critiqued the history of the development industry, I’d like to propose an alternative model of development, which emerged from my research on the Santi Asoke Buddhist Reform movement of Thailand. After studying for a year what made Asoke communities so successful, I determined that in order to raise the quality […]

A Setting for Wellbeing: Srisa Asoke Buddhist Center

The places people live, whether by choice or circumstance, can offer clues as to who those people are, and an intentional community like the Srisa Asoke Buddhist Center speaks volumes about its residents. This post introduces Srisa Asoke and the people who live there.  Isan Srisa Asoke is located roughly fifty kilometers from the Cambodian […]

Economic Growth, SAPs, and Aid: Oh My! A History of the Global Development Industry

The concept of development implies positive change, and it is clearly an ideal toward which individuals, groups, and nations strive. But the term carries much more baggage than that. The Western world’s conceptualization of development—unilinear growth, evolution, or maturation toward an ever more perfect form—has its roots in evolutionary theories of the nineteenth and early […]

Sufficiency Economy versus the Sustainable Livelihoods Approach

I recently contributed a chapter to a volume exploring Sufficiency Economy (SE), in which I endeavored to refine SE as a development approach for sustainable livelihoods and community empowerment. To do so, I compared SE to the Sustainable Livelihood Approach (SLA), a framework put forth by the British Department for International Development (DFID) in the […]

Measuring Wellbeing: Exploring Alternatives to GDP

With the GDP turning 80, this year is sure to bring fruitful discussions on alternatives that will better measure wellbeing. These discussions are already happening, not just on the fringes of public discourse but in initiatives sponsored by world leaders in government and premier global organizations like the United Nations (UN) and the Organization for […]

Global Volunteer: Ethnography of a Tsunami Aid Organization in Thailand

The tsunami of December 26, 2004 swept away entire villages in Khao Lak, Thailand: houses, fishing boats, family businesses, shrimp farms, livestock, vegetable gardens, and people. Those who survived faced the seemingly insurmountable work of rebuilding their lives, but they didn’t have to do it alone. Volunteers from across Thailand and across the globe poured […]

“Resisting Global Capitalism”: Lessons from the Asoke Alternative

“Resisting global capitalism” is one way to frame efforts to create conditions that oster socially just and environmentally sustainable economic activity. Far from being passive victims of global processes, individuals and social groups across the globe endeavor in diverse ways to resist, reshape, appropriate, and create alternatives to the dominant neoliberal economic model. Alternatives that […]

All is Not Well with Thai Buddhist Economics: Feminist Critique of Inequality

The most significant flaw of the Thai Buddhist economic models described in the last few posts is that their ability to empower all members of society to achieve well being may be hampered by structural inequalities that result from the inherent hierarchy of their philosophical underpinnings—Theravada Buddhism—and the context in which they are implemented. Theravada […]

Two Thai Buddhist Economic Models

Though Buddhist economics was presented as a theory in the previous post, two operational models actually exist in Thailand: 1. The Royal Thai Sufficiency Economy Model, which operates on the principles of  moderation, reasonableness, self-immunity, wisdom and integrity, was publicly introduced by the King of Thailand following the 1997 economic  crisis and is now championed […]

The “Buddhist” Part of Buddhist Economics

This post reviews some aspects of Buddhist ontology and the practical teachings that serve as the foundation for Buddhist economics. If you had some questions while reading the previous post, “Is Buddhist Economics an Oxymoron?” then this might help. Buddhism’s central doctrine, the Four Noble Truths, teaches that there is suffering (dukkha); the cause of suffering […]