Thinking and writing about sustainable development must change. It needs new ideas, new methods, and new meanings. Capitalists fear it, corporations complain it will cost them profits, and most people want to continue living as they do, ignoring the consequences that seem remote and ill-defined. SDI’s research programs inject new ideas about what sustainable development is, how to get it, and how to keep it. We consider how government policies from the top-down may be effective, how people can cause change from the bottom up, and how complexity science can illuminate new challenges and generate new approaches.


The default is to expect governments to fix national and global problems.  But is complex systems like capitalism are the problem, how can that be addressed? Will those prospering from economic inequality reduce it, those profiting from environmental destruction end it, or those benefiting from political stasis change it? We address these and similar questions and offer some novel suggestions on how to remake capitalism for the benefit of all.


What can we do? What is one voice, one life against the System? Political action is one way that historically has changed societies. The most powerful change comes from ‘we the people’ by the choices we make in everyday life and how we want the world to be.


What could be more complex than the interaction of the environment and 7 billion humans through a capitalist economic system? Most research assumes rationality, simplicity, and straightforward cause and effect.  The new science of complexity assumes individual diversity, system emergence from interactions among the parts, and indirect and non-linear effects from causes. Therefore, it has much to offer in new thinking and new methods to untangle sustainable development.

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We welcome comment on our current research and suggestions for further research.