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UNF professor speaks on ‘Gross National Happiness’ in Bhutan

Josh Gellers HeadshotDr. Josh Gellers, University of North Florida associate professor of political science, recently returned from the Kingdom of Bhutan, where he was invited to speak on Gross National Happiness and climate justice at a conference organized by the country’s only law school, Jigme Singye Wangchuck (JSW) School of Law.

The conference brought together Bhutanese legal scholars and environmental experts from around the world to discuss Bhutan’s concept of Gross National Happiness and how it might help address climate change. Gellers presented a paper entitled, “With Happiness and Justice for All? Gross National Happiness and the More-than-Human World,” which examined how Gross National Happiness might incorporate a theory of justice that includes non-humans affected by climate change.

“I have taught about Bhutan’s novel approach to development in my Politics of Developing Countries course, but I never thought I’d actually get the chance to go there,” said Gellers. “I was really fortunate to be invited to participate in this terrific conference and learn directly from the Bhutanese people.”

While in Bhutan, Gellers spoke with students in JSW Law’s first graduating class and had dinner with Her Majesty Sonam Dechen Wangchuck, who is a Princess of Bhutan and president of the law school.

Upon returning to UNF, Gellers shared his experience in a special seminar for students in his Global Environmental Justice course, co-taught with Dr. Charles Closmann, UNF associate professor of history.

“International education at UNF is all about bringing students into the world and bringing the world back to them,” Gellers said. “I am so grateful I had the opportunity to share what I learned about the political and environmental philosophies of this small but important country with my students who are on the cusp of graduating. I hope it inspires them to keep learning about other cultures and think critically about their environmental impact.”