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Theme A: Values - is it just about money?

Theme A: Values - is it just about money?


30 years ago Bill Clinton won the US presidential election for president by stating the slogan:“It’s the economy, stupid!”. This workshop questions whether the economy really is the key factor for a liveable society.  Activities will explore questions like: Is more money most important for happiness? What about friendship, arts and culture, family? What constitutes a life worth living ?

Aims & Objectives

Reflect on our wishes and needs, our desires and fantasies.

Find out what resources are necessary to fulfil our wishes.

Diminishing wants or augmenting means: analysing, what makes us happy

Going into indicators of happiness: Human Development Index, Happy Planet Index. Creating our own happiness Index.   


Ability to consider conflicting goals when reflecting on strategies for a sustainable future (deHaan)
Ability to reflect on one's own and others' guiding principles
Ability to show empathy for others
Ability to form a conception of the good and to engage in critical reflection about the planning of one's life (Nussbaum).

Dimension / SDG-relation

Economic Dimension of Sustainability

SDG 8: Decent Work and Economic Growth
SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production
SDG 17: Partnerships for Goals


Post-its; Markers; Flip chart paper

Note, these two workshops are designed to be delivered together.
Nevertheless, parts of either can be used independently, if time is limited.

ECONOMIC  WORKSHOP 1  (synchronised)

15 min.

INTRODUCTION: What does money mean for you? Participants introduce themselves – by telling their name and what money means to them.

45 min.

Activity: Group Work: A nice evening with friends – Poster Session, Discussion, Diamond ranking

20 min.

Activity: Let me tell you a story: The Cricket and the Ant. Who defines what is a good life? – the capability approach    

Additional Economic Activities (for details see Appendix 5)

10 min

Group Discussion: Diminishing our Wants or Augmenting our Needs

Is Franklin right or wrong?

30 min

Role Play: Happiness Flight to Ganymede: what would you do to keep your team in a good mood?

30 min

What research is good for measuring happiness?

20 min

Write a letter to you. When you are 50 years old, you will read it

Activity:  A Nice Evening with friends


Framing (facilitator): You are looking forward to an evening together with your friends – what are your expectations?  What would you like to do together, what do you want to eat? What would you like to discuss?  What is important for a good time together?


Step 1: Individually (5 minutes) Identify do’s and don’ts. First of all, think about it personally.
Write a positive thing you are expecting on a green post-it. If there are things you do not like when meeting, write it on a red post-it.


Step 2: Groups (10 minutes) Meet in groups online or offline (4–6 persons). Write your cards on an online board, cluster the contributions. Maybe you will find out some more. Discuss priorities. Choose 9 aspects that are important.


Step 3: Introduce Diamond Ranking (facilitator): Diamond ranking is a thinking skills tool designed to facilitate dialogue & encourage people to consider their values on a given topic.  A diamond shaped chart is used to place the most important factors  towards the top, the least important factors towards the bottom & factors of equal importance  placed in the same row.[1]

Step 5: Practise diamond ranking of the chosen aspects  in groups (10 minutes) 


Action: In plenary (10 minutes) Present the diamonds. Compare the aspects through a discussion.  It is important to respect all contributions.

Summarise results - facilitator (10 minutes):  Focus on the question:

What resources (money, energy etc.) are most needed?




Activity:   The story of the Cricket and the Ant


Facilitator: Let me tell a story. What is a good life looking like?
Cricket and Ant -
A story from more than 2000 years old tells of a cricket and an ant.
The cricket chirps all summer, makes music and parties. But the ant works, carries supplies home. Then autumn comes and it gets cold. The cricket is cold and hungry, it asks the ant for help, but the ant says: that's what you get, you've been partying all summer while I've been working - and chases the cricket away. It starves to death.
One of the best-known storytellers in the German-speaking world - Janosch - does not like the story at all. He continues the story: the cricket keeps looking for help and comes to the mole. The mole says: "I already liked listening to you in summer, you can stay with me, I have food and I'll be happy if you play for me in winter too.”


Step 1 - Group Discussion - What is a Good Life:  History shows that for 2.000 years people have been asking themselves: what is a good life? Should we share wealth or better save and think about the future? If someone is always "partying", should we help them? What do you think: who does it right? The ant or the mole

Step 2 - Facilitator initiates further discussion - If the group is up to more theoretical inputs you could continue with input on Martha Nussbaum.  Or pick some aspects that have not been mentioned in the discussion highlighted in the chart below LIFE; HEALTH, INTEGRITY; EMOTIONAL RELATIONS; RELATIONS TO NATURE; HAVING FUN; COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION:

Optional input on: What is needed for a good life? Martha Nussbaum is an American philosopher who  has written many books on this topic.  She is particularly concerned with living conditions in India and Pakistan.  Nussbaum states every human being has the right to choose what is a good life for him/her.  No one should determine what is good for others: the ant and the cricket are different, both should have the right to live and to be happy in their own way. However, he who is hungry with no house can hardly be happy.  Nussbaum came up with 10 principles[1], which she calls the central capabilities needed for a good life.   In summary she describes:  Firstly, what are basic needs: food, safety, housing. Secondly, what makes life really worth living: fun, joy, loving others and being loved, opportunities to express, ask questions and find answers.  Thirdly, she considers the ability to control one’s environment - the right to participate in society. What happens in our city, country, the world is not something just others decide. Everyone has  the right to participate in building our communities, homes and looking for the work we would like to do. This is the most important social aspect for her.

Step 3 -  Discuss (in small or big groups) some of these capabilities:  What do you think? – Necessary or not? Already given to all humans or not? Facilitator: List these on flip chart/online


Your Comments




Emotional relations

Relations to nature

Having Fun

Participation in community


Debriefing: Some people are  born in poverty; their parents do not even know how to get enough food for the next few days. Others are born in palaces, sleeping on silk pillows. Is this fair? This is a question many people think about. Is it right to take from the rich & give to the poor?  Consider that some  families work hard and save money for their children to help them yet others enjoy leisure time and do not save. Should the richer ones share with the poorer?  Or is it ok the way it is? Let's note some ideas on a flipchart or online forum space.
Sharing circle in plenary - How was it to be part of this activity? What are the feelings coming up?
Helping questions: Do you see yourself to be rich/poor, fortunate/not fortunate? Lucky/not lucky?

TIPS:  Check out Martha Nussbaum 10 principles and gauge whether it is useful to summarise them or to just introduce topics in the chart.

REFERENCE:  Children’s video (in German) telling Cricket  &  Ant StoryDie Grille und der Maulwurf | Janoschs Traumstunde



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