Homo Florens

Towards a new image of humanity for the economy

The goal of this project is to investigate how a new image of humanity (that of ‘the flourishing human’) could help to achieve a sustainable and humane society. In many parts of the world, the dominant image of humanity continues to be that of the Homo economicus (the economic human), in which people are driven primarily by the desire to satisfy their own needs. The latest scientific insights have nevertheless called this depiction of humans into question.

Self-interest ànd faith, hope and love?

People do not always seem to act out of self-interest and, in addition to satisfying their own needs, people need meaning (‘faith’), a bright future (‘hope’) and meaningful relationships (‘love’). The incorporation of these virtues is essential to the transition towards a sustainable and humane society.

From Homo economicus to Homo amans to Homo florens

In 2018, employees of the Institute of Leadership and Social Ethics (ILSE) in Leuven began to re-examine the dominant economic view of humanity, enriching it with elements from a variety of scientific disciplines. During the first, preparatory phase of this project, the ILSE scientists formulated the research questions for the international study to be conducted in the second phase. In the past, these efforts took place under the project name Homo amans (the loving human). In 2020, this project name was revised. The term Homo florens (the flourishing human) does more justice to the recognition that it is precisely in the relational aspect that human beings flourish.

Follow-up research and valorisation in education and the business community

The current, second phase of the project includes the submission of a proposal to the John Templeton Foundation for a multi-year scientific research project to be launched in 2022. Through fundamental scientific research and by giving courses to students in higher education and training to CEOs and commissioners of companies, the Homo florens project seeks to make an active contribution to ensuring that 2,035 business leaders of the 20 largest companies in the Netherlands always make decisions that place the interests of people and nature first when making and implementing policy.

Prof. dr. Patrick Nullens Professor of Systematic Theology, Evangelical Theological Faculty of Leuven