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The Sustainability Institute

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The Sustainability Institute was founded in 1996 by the late Donella (Dana) Meadows to apply systems thinking and organizational learning to economic, environmental and social challenges.


We believe that unsustainability does not arise out of ignorance, irrationality or greed. It is largely the collective consequence of rational, well-intended decisions made by people caught up in systems – ranging from families and communities to corporations, governments and economies – that make it difficult or impossible to act in ways that are fully responsible to all those affected in the present and to future generations.


  • Shift mindsets – values, attitudes, and beliefs – when they are out of step with the realities of a finite planet and a globally powerful human race.
  • Restructure systems when the rewards and incentives of the system are inconsistent with long term social, environmental, and economic goals.
  • Build the capability to manage and learn in complex environmental, social, and economic systems.


The Sustainability Institute works for change in three ways:

  • Through workshops, leadership development, and consulting, we provide tools of systems thinking and organizational learning to clients and partners working on issues of sustainability, helping them to be more strategic, engage multiple stakeholders, and learn continuously.
  • We target specific systems and issues, including natural resource economies, climate change, energy, and regional development, where our tools and research can help with the transition to sustainability.
  • We draw insights from our consulting, workshops, and research to develop conceptual frameworks for large-scale change toward sustainable systems.

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