Challenging an Unsustainable Economic System

Ethical economic thinking, activist skills for change

In cooperation with the University of Florence

BACKGROUND: Today’s economic system is failing humanity and the planet. It is the cause of climate change, resource depletion, environmental degradation, social inequality, enduring poverty, growing migration, greater political extremism, and persistently high unemployment. Many people understand this and yearn to take action. Yet, they are unsure of what to do and how to contribute to change.

The Club of Rome’s “Reclaim Economics” project, launched in 2016, was designed to fill this gap by transforming the way our economic system is perceived and understood. It aims to promote new economic thinking, that puts human well-being and the planet at the centre. This year’s Reclaim Economics flagship event will be the first Club of Rome Summer Academy in Florence, Italy.


The 2017 Club of Rome Summer Academy is about new economic thinking. Mainstream economics is based on false premises, such as the idea that GDP growth always improves human well-being, a finite Earth poses no limit, and financial capital is the primary economic constraint. In the business world, short-term profit maximization, shareholder interests and efficiency gains remain key objectives. These wrong-headed ideas explain almost all of the failures of the current economic system.

The plan:

The Club of Rome’s Summer Academy offers in-depth, cutting-edge insights to mobilise students and academics, young professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, young journalists, artists and activists. By bringing them together with some of the world’s leading social and systems thinkers we want to inspire economic, ecological, and political movements towards action.

We want to inspire, engage and equip a new generation of change-makers with the knowledge and tools to overcome today’s barriers to change.

We are looking for:

  • students (BA, MA, PhDs) who are critical of economics and business studies
  • young professionals, especially from NGOs and associations working in related fields
  • critical young academics and researchers from universities and think-tanks
  • young journalists covering economic and environmental topics
  • artists and activists with a deep interest in environmental and social challenges and a desire to utilise their talents and energy to strive for change
  • those who are young-at-heart and keen to make a positive difference

What we will do:

  • help participants understand the inter-linkages of humanity’s challenges and their common root causes
  • facilitate knowledge- and skills-sharing between experts and participants
  • provide hands-on workshops
  • build a coalition of participants, NGOs and CoR members

Cost: € 300. Covers lectures, seminars and workshops, lunches, participation at social events and dinners.


Attendance is limited to a maximum of 100 selected participants. Applicants should send:

  • completed application form
  • a current resume/CV
  • a 2-3 minute video statement (mobile phone camera is sufficient) OR a letter of intent (max. one page), explaining why you want to participate in the academy, what you will bring , and how you would like to change the dominant economic thinking and our economic system.

Please send your applications to Videos that are to large to be sent by email can be transferred via wetranser or similar. Videos will be treated confidentially and deleted when the selection process if over.

You might also want to include:

  • a letter of recommendation
  • work samples (visual, text, video)

Selection Process:

  1. Initial deadline was 11 June - EXTENDED DEADLINE is 18 June midnight CET. Applications are screened as they arrive, so apply early!
  2. Approved applicants will have 14 days to accept and pay the participation fee
  3. Those on the waiting list will be offered a place as they become available

Participation Fund:

A limited number of grants are available of up to €200 per participant. These are intended to cover up to 50 % of travel and accommodation costs (not the participation fee), and can be applied for if you can show that your travel and accommodation costs exceed €200. To be eligible you need to be a full-time undergraduate / Masters student (or similar) / an unpaid PhD student, or currently unemployed, or involved in a project with no paid income.


The Academy is hosted at the University of Florence. The location for side-events and some group activities will be announced soon.


Participants have two options:

A. Stay at Hostel PlusFlorence: Rooms have already been blocked for participants (4 bed dorms) by the Club of Rome at 28 € per night per person (*6 nights = 168 €). Accommodation costs are covered by participants. If you want to stay in the hostel please state this in your application. You will be required to pay the costs for the hostel when paying the participation fee.

Hostel PlusFlorence,

The hostel offers breakfast, lunch packages and dinner at a reasonable prices. It is 8 minutes to the event venue.

B. Stay at accommodation of your own choice: Platforms such as or have alternatives.

Catering throughout the event:

Breakfasts: depends upon the accommodation chosen by the participant. The Club of Rome does not offer breakfast at the venue.
Lunches: The Club of Rome will provide lunch (and coffee breaks) throughout the event.
Dinners: Some evenings have group dinners covered by the Club of Rome.

Registration, check-in & welcome

Registration: September 7th, between 12:00 to 15:00
Participant’s should arrange their travel to be at the University before 15:00.

Welcome: The Academy will start on September 7th at 15:00 with an opening ceremony and welcome by Club of Rome Secretary General Graeme Maxton.

Travel: Travel to and from the event is up to you

Important Addresses:
University of Florence: Via Laura, 48, 50121 Firenze, Italy
Hostel Plus Florence: Via Santa Caterina D'Alessandria, 15, 50129 Firenze, Italy
Recommended train station: Stazione Ferroviaria Santa Maria Novella, Piazza Santa Maria Novella, 50123 Firenze, Italy


Here you can find the program of the Summer Academy.

This program is a preliminary draft and will be updated in the run-up to the event.


Workshop and Working Group Facilitators


Will be updated in the run-up to the event. You might find some useful information on the Florence tourism website.