Developing a balance between economic progress and wider satisfaction factors is a subject area put firmly under the radar in a summer study programme held in Vienna.
The Alternative Economic and Monetary Systems (AEMS) course, which is open to students and those with a general interest in economics, philosophy and social studies from across the UK, takes place in the Austrian capital each year.
And it is gaining ground as a major focus for debate and study in an international setting.
The course investigates alternatives to the capitalist system, where profits still count, but factors such as life-work balance, ethics, sustainability and the environment are all factored in.
It also offers a unique opportunity for students wanting to understand how happiness and satisfaction are key drivers rather than material goods.
Kinga Tshering, an MP in Bhutan, where ‘National Happiness’ is a development philosophy for the country, took part in the AEMS programme in 2015.
Mr Tshering said: “It makes a lot of sense to take part in the programme.
“We know happiness indexing is a goal of the UN and it really aligns with our philosophy in Bhutan.
“The ultimate objective is happiness for all as a result of the sustainable use of global resources, human dignity and democratic principles.
“In Vienna companies, individuals and organisations are driving change. It was very encouraging to learn so many things from Europe through this programme.
“There’s too great a focus on money and competition and it’s a relentless rat race.
“The AEMS programme offers a broader perspective and the opportunity to sit back and think what is important to us and make the world a better place.
“It’s very encouraging. The movement is growing from the bottom up. Slowly there will be a mass realization to this across the globe.
“AEMS is an intensive course and it covers a lot of detail. It is delivered by a hugely impressive team and those taking part get a great deal out of it.”
Taking place this year from the 27 July until 14 August 2016, the AEMS course is organised by the OeAD-Housing Office, which offers sustainable accommodation for students across Austria, together with the city’s BOKU University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, and the Economy For The Common Good movement.
It is operated under a not-for-profit arrangement and as a result costs €1390. This price includes all accommodation, which is based in OeAD’s highly energy efficient passive house student properties in Vienna.
The course runs for two and a half weeks and at the end those taking part are able to enjoy an additional free week in the OeAD accommodation, providing an ideal opportunity to explore Vienna cost-effectively and continue their networking opportunities.
The programme and all the social activities surrounding it are held wholly in the English language.
Students completing the AEMS summer school will be awarded five ECTS points. Training is delivered by a consortium of Austrian universities, together with technical colleges, experts and NGOs.
Places for the AEMS summer school are limited and applications are now open at www.summer-university.net
There is also a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AEMSVienna