In our Bridging the Gaps podcast series, the hosts, Seán O’Conláin and Caroline Whyte, explore a range of topics with guests from a wide variety of backgrounds. As with our previous series in 2022, 2021 and 2020, and our 2019 podcast series Beyond the Obvious, it is co-organised by Feasta and the European Health Futures Forum (EHFF). Please feel free to comment below.
Thanks also to Leontien Friel Darrell (@LFDDesigns) for designing our podcast logo.
Podcasts are listed below from the newest to the oldest.
Podcast 10: The importance of being seen
Thobile Chittenden, network co-lead of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), speaks with Seán Ó Conláin about her early childhood at the end of the apartheid regime in South Africa and how that experience influenced her, leading eventually to her decision to join the WEAll global amplification team.
Topics covered in their conversation also include the importance of people and communities being seen and recognised in order to heal from past traumas and abuses, the frustration generated by attempts to achieve progress within a corporate world which has not changed its core values, alternative approaches being explored in the Makers Valley initiative in Johannesburg, and the need to bring about global economic system change in order to support grassroots activism.
Thobile and Seán also discussed the recent ‘Art of the Wellbeing Economy’ event that was held in Dublin in December 2025, as part of the WEAll Ireland Hub’s cultural creatives project.
Featured image on the home page reproduced with permission from Makers Valley.
Podcast 9: Resilience in times of turbulence
David Somekh and Caroline Whyte interviewed Professor Jane Gray of Maynooth University Department of Sociology on her research on resilience in times of crisis. We discussed two projects that she recently led which explored the ways in which families coped with the wake of the Great Financial Crisis and, in the case of Ireland, how the Family Income Supplement affected them.
Topics discussed included differing understandings of poverty and hardship, the need to avoid placing all of the burden of overcoming poverty and other difficult challenges on individuals or individual households, the circumstances which make it particularly hard for families to ‘bounce back’ from adversity, the role of commons in helping people to meet their needs during times of crisis, and the importance of support that is broadly based, rather than narrowly targeted.
Featured image on the home page by Pedro Sanz on Unsplash.
Podcast 8: Taking stock and moving forward in environmental politics
Nov 1 2023
Seán Ó Conláin and Caroline Whyte spoke with Molly Scott Cato. Molly was formerly a Professor of Green Economics and speaks for the Green Party of England and Wales on Economy and Finance. She recently published a book on Sustainable Finance (Springer, 2022).
Between 2014 and 2020 Molly was the Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar. As a member of the Parliament’s Economics and Monetary Policy committee and the Parliament’s rapporteur on sustainable finance she worked on legislation to use the power of finance to address the climate and ecological emergencies and helped initiate discussions about a carbon border tariff.
Topics covered in our discussion included Molly’s experience as an MEP and her reflections on the European Parliament’s role, the dynamics within the UK which led to Brexit, the challenges involved in achieving environmental and social progress within flawed political systems, and the importance of the arts and culture in bringing about change.
Podcast 7: Healthcare on a burning platform
Sept 30 2023
In this month’s podcast, David Somekh of the EHFF and Caroline Whyte spoke with Bogi Eliasen, the Director of Health at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies (CIFS). Bogi initiated the Nordic Health 2030 process and has a key role in both the global Future Proofing Health Index and Movement Health 2030 that aspires to improve health by applying a new health paradigm. His current focus is facilitating the shift and building bridges between the fields of personal and public health. He calls himself a knowledge broker, whose expertise lies in combining various fields of knowledge.
Conversation topics included whether the goal of healthcare should be to have a good healthcare service or good health, how to support the 90% in living more healthily and sustainably, the best measurements of health to use in Wellbeing Frameworks, and the fact that countries are a social construction and we need global action.
Podcast 6: Transforming the treadmill – work in a post-growth economy
July 31 2023
Caroline Whyte spoke with Katy Wiese, the Policy Manager for Economic Transition and Gender Equality at the European Environmental Bureau, and Jan Mayrhofer, the Policy and Advocacy Manager for Sustainability at the European Youth Forum.
Katy and Jan discussed the recommendations in their co-authored report ‘Escaping the Jobs and Growth Treadmill,’ their impressions of the European Parliament’s recent Beyond Growth conference – including Katy’s experience on a panel discussing shorter working hours – and some potential next steps at the EU level to help achieve a post-growth, wellbeing-oriented European economy.
Topics covered included the ‘productivity dividend’, the need for an intersectional approach when considering the changes that are needed in work, the extent to which the future economy will involve manual labour, and the threats and opportunities presented by the European elections that are coming up in 2025.
Featured image on the home page: still from Modern Times by Charlie Chaplin, 1936
Three horizons, hope and the future
July 3 2023
David Somekh and Caroline Whyte interview futurist Bill Sharpe, author of the book ‘Three Horizons: the Patterning of Hope’. Bill explains how he came to be working in this area, the potential offered by the Three Horizons method, and describes some recent projects in healthcare and regenerative agriculture.
Podcast 4: Beyond Growth, Beyond Europe…and Beyond Politics
June 1 2023
In this podcast, Seán Ó Conláin and Caroline Whyte exchanged some initial thoughts on the European Parliament’s recent conference, “Beyond Growth: Pathways Towards Sustainable Prosperity in the EU,” which they both attended from May 15-17.
They placed the conference in the context of a highly unbalanced world trade system that strongly favours the Global North, and of a very worrying potential swing to the far right in next year’s European elections. Nonetheless, the Parliament provided a platform and forum for an impressive group of high-profile degrowth and post-growth speakers, and the building was jammed with enthusiastic young people. (Parliament staff said they had never seen anything like it.)
For this discussion, Seán and Caroline picked out a few talks – on economic models, the EU fiscal framework and the global financial system – given during Plenaries 5 and 6 by Gael Giraud, Phillipa Sigl-Glöckner and Ann Pettifor.
These talks, and video footage of all the other conference presentations, are available on the conference website. We strongly recommend taking a look through it.
Podcast 3: Politicians and the Wellbeing Economy
March 31 2023
David Somekh of the EHFF and Caroline Whyte interviewed Laura Rayner, who is a policy analyst at the European Policy Centre in Brussels. Laura is currently working on the Wellbeing Economy Policy Lab, which is a crosscutting work programme to analyse how the EU can develop and implement policies leading to a more equitable, socially inclusive and regenerative economy. The Lab’s objectives are to help build a political consensus for a wellbeing economy, and to formulate wellbeing-oriented policy recommendations through multi-disciplinary dialogues and analyses.
Podcast 2: Community Wealth Building and the next economic system
February 28 2023
Caroline Whyte spoke with Sarah McKinley, who is the director of community wealth building programs for The Democracy Collaborative, working out of her home office in Brussels, Belgium. The Democracy Collaborative, like Feasta and the EHFF, is a member of the global Wellbeing Economy Alliance.
Sarah’s background is in community development and she has worked with community development organizations at different levels, including with the Greater Southwest Development Corporation, a Chicago-based community development corporation, and the National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations in Washington DC.
Sarah explains what Community Wealth Building is, its relationship to social enterprise, how she came to be working in the field, and how Community Wealth Building can help us to visualise and plan towards a more regenerative economic system.
Podcast 1: Wellbeing Frameworks – challenges and progress
January 31 2023
Many people would agree that we need to change the way in which we measure progress and move past the current narrow focus on GDP growth. Ireland, along with many other countries, has been developing a wellbeing framework that contains a dashboard of indicators which are intended to give a snapshot of how Ireland is doing in many different areas, including health, education, employment and the environment. But can these wellbeing frameworks really help to bring about a transformation of society?
Seán Ó Conláin and Caroline Whyte speak with Margreet Frieling, the knowledge co-lead at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance (WEAll), about her experience with the New Zealand wellbeing framework and in WEAll, coordinating a global policymakers network on wellbeing frameworks along with the Zoe Institute, and sharing information on case studies of ‘wellbeing economics’ in action.
Note: Feasta is a forum for exchanging ideas. By posting on its site Feasta agrees that the ideas expressed by authors are worthy of consideration. However, there is no one ‘Feasta line’. The views of the article do not necessarily represent the views of all Feasta members.