Buddha statue

In a college economics class, students typically discuss concepts like supply and demand, opportunity costs, and purchasing power. But income inequality and climate change? Not so much.

Clair Brown is a professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley.

Brown: “My students in Econ 1 used to come to me, ‘Professor Brown, these models don’t allow us to study the problems we care about. We care about inequality, we care about climate change, we care about global suffering, and these models just assume all that away.’”

So she created a class and wrote a book on what’s been called “Buddhist Economics.” It’s a way to evaluate the success of an economy that emphasizes social outcomes such as sustainability, income equality, and happiness above metrics such as gross domestic product, or GDP.

Prioritizing these values can lead to …

Brown: “… everything from regulations to all kinds of social safety nets and government programs, to social norms and culture. And you bring them together so that the economy gives you the outcomes you want.”

She says this approach to economics is not just for Buddhists.

Brown: “I happen to practice Tibetan Buddhism, but it’s for anybody who cares about the human spirit and cares about the earth.”

Reporting credit: Sarah Kennedy/ChavoBart Digital Media.