Dirk Philipsen is a Professor of Economic History at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. He also serves as Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University, is co-director of the Duke Sustainability Engagement Certificate program, and is a founding associate of the Wellbeing Economy Alliance.

His research, writing, teaching, and public advocacy are 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. His latest book was 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 (2017). His current research and writing is focused on building a wellbeing economy, the nature of economic growth, and the moral imperative of decoupling material throughput from human development.