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Earth Talk Video: Bhutan and the Journey towards Happiness

In this Earth Talk given at Schumacher College on Tuesday, 25 November 2014, Dr. Julia Kim shares her reflections on the journey that has taken her from the heart of the HIV epidemic in rural South Africa to a prolonged meditation retreat in France, to the halls of the United Nations in New York, and finally to the Gross National Happiness (GNH) Centre in Bhutan. What tensions and contradictions arise when we begin to question the current development paradigm? What happens when we pause, and begin to ask about the "root causes" of the suffering and crisis we see around us? How does the journey towards our own happiness mirror larger questions about our relationship to the earth, and to spiritual and material development?

Dr. Julia Kim

Dr. Julia Kim is a physician and public health researcher with program, policy and advocacy experience in the areas of international health and sustainable development, MDGs, and the post-2015 agenda. While based in New York at the Bureau for Development Policy, UNDP, her interests focused on addressing HIV, socio-economic inequalities, and other cross-cutting development challenges, as well as leveraging private-public partnerships, leadership development and community capacity-building programs.

More recent work within UNICEF has focused on incorporating equity, wellbeing, and sustainable development within the post-2015 agenda. Her interest in GNH has included participation in the 2012 UN High-Level Meeting on “Happiness and Wellbeing: Defining a New Economic Paradigm” as well as research and policy analysis on “Health, happiness and well-being: implications for public policy” (Centre for Bhutan Studies and GNHResearch). She is currently a Senior Program Advisor at the GNH Centre, and a member of the International Expert Working Group for the New Development Paradigm, convened by the Government of Bhutan.

Other interests include integrating compassion and awareness-based practices within leadership development and organizational change initiatives, and she is a member of the Presencing Institute – a global community that sees the integration of awareness-based practices as a core capacity of 21st-century innovation and leadership. Julia graduated from Cornell University, is a Specialist in Internal Medicine and Community-Oriented Primary Care (Tufts University School of Medicine) and holds a MSc. in Public Health in Developing Countries (London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine)