Dirk Philipsen


Knowledge & Policy +  Founding Associate of WEAll

Durham, North Carolina



Dirk Philipsen, raised in Germany and educated in both Germany and the United States, is an Associate Research Professor of Economic History at the Sanford School of Public Policy.  He also serves as Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, co-director of the Duke Sustainability Engagement Certificate, Fellow at the Royal Society of Arts, and founding associate of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

Dirk Philipsen has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Andrew Mellon Foundation, the Franklin Humanities Center at Duke, and the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. His research, writing, and teaching is focused on sustainability, wellbeing economics, and the history of capitalism. His first book, We Were the People, chronicles the collapse of communism in East Germany and was published by Duke University Press. Recently, he served as editor and contributor to a volume on Green Business, published by SAGE. His latest work is published by Princeton University Press under the title The Little Big Number – How GDP Came to Rule the World, And What to Do About It (2015/17).

His current research and writing is focused on alternative economic performance indicators, the nature of economic growth, and the moral imperative of decoupling material throughput from human development.