Conceptions of Human Flourishing — Reformulating the SDGs


Conceptions of Human Flourishing — Reformulating the SDGs


How does a non-materialist conception of human flourishing inform the reformulation of the SDGs in 2030?


Starting in 2025, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will undergo a 5-year renewal and renegotiation process. Towards that end, the question of the nature of what constitutes the “human” in human development and, by extension, what “human flourishing” is requires a renewed inquiry inclusive of non-materialist philosophies and non-western cultures.

In contemporary politics, modern scientism has emerged as the dominant scientific doctrine informing policy frameworks of human flourishing. This perspective focuses on the material conditions of survival and its ontology and methodology has informed the design and formulation of the SDGs. This perspective on the human condition and its role and place in nature, however, hardly captures the complexity of human experience across the world and in different cultures.

Alternative conceptions, such as Bhutan’s Gross National Happiness, the modern idealist turn in the sciences, or conceptions of a New Enlightenment, signal a change in the contemporary scientific world view. This shift posits a transition towards an ontology that is more inclusive of different cultures and philosophical world views as well as one that is more attuned to a holistic view of human nature as a subset of nature itself.

The program on the Human Condition in the 21st Century brings together a diverse team to develop a non-materialist and inter-cultural conception of human flourishing that can inform the policy agenda of the reformulation of the SDGs starting in 2025. The team will work on sub-questions such as (but not exclusive to):

  • What are enduring and cross-culturally shared non-materialist conceptions of human flourishing across cultures?
  • How do the reductively materialist conceptions that have so far informed the SDGs limit human flourishing?
  • How to reformulate the overarching concept of human flourishing as well as the individual SDGs considering an inter-cultural, non-materialist conception of human flourishing?

Andrej Zwitter
Andrej is a Dean and Professor of Governance and Innovation with research interests in international relations, big data ethics, and humanitarian action. He has published several books on related topics and holds various positions in academia and beyond.

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  • Number of persons sought

    Three to five persons per call.

  • Funding period

    Either 1, 2, or 3 terms:

    • Fall term: 18 September – 15 December 2023
    • Winter term: 15 January – 29 March 2024
    • Spring term: 2 May – 28 June 2024

      Please indicate how many terms you wish to come.
  • Profile

    Scholars from the humanities and social sciences or practitioners in politics, business, art, media, or journalism with a commitment to the mission of THE NEW INSTITUTE, expertise in a field related to one of our projects, and interest in collaborating across our programs.

  • Tasks

    • Actively participating in the collaborative fellow work
    • Implementing the proposed project
  • Location

    Fellows are required to be present at THE NEW INSTITUTE in Hamburg at least four days a week during the respective term.

  • Stipend

    Individually negotiated, following the principle “no loss, no gain” (as a rule tax-exempt in Germany).

  • Housing

    Fully furnished and equipped apartments will be provided on the premises of TNI at the Warburg Ensemble. 80% subsidy for rent and utilities on top of stipend. Larger apartments for fellows with family members staying for longer than 3 months will be provided.

  • Meals

    Breakfasts and lunches will be provided on weekdays during the terms, dinners on Wednesdays. 400 Euro contributions will automatically be deducted from stipend. Subject to change.

  • Application materials

    • Letter of motivation (3 pages max)
    • CV, (including current address, nationality, gender ; statement of career level)
    • proposal for a project in accordance with the call (3-5 pages max.)
  • Application procedure

    Please send your application as a single pdf to


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