GTI Paper Series: Frontiers of a Great Transition (2006)

Prepared by working groups of the GTI Network, these papers examine key aspects of an alternative global vision and a path forward.


  • The Great Transition Today: A Report from the Future

    Paul Raskin

    Paul Raskin surveys the landscape of a Great Transition future from the perspective of an individual living in 2084. He emphasizes the preeminence of a triad of values—quality of life, human solidarity, and ecological sensibility—and shows how they, combined with a sense of world citizenship, have permeated political, social, and economic institutions.

  • Global Politics and Institutions

    Chella Rajan

    Chella Rajan analyzes the historical roles of politics and institutions and identifies the challenges that the institution of the modern nation-state faces amidst the rise of problems that can only be solved on a global level. Seeing the destabilization of the nation-state as a source of identity and moral unit, Rajan then outlines a vision for political decision-making processes and institutional structures that embody the values of a Great Transition future.

  • Visions of Regional Economies in a Great Transition World

    Richard Rosen, David Schweickart

    Rich Rosen and David Schweickart analyze the dominant models of capitalism and socialism from the twentieth century to identify key lessons learned that must be kept in mind in building a more just, equitable, and sustainable economic system. They then proceed to outline three model economic arrangements that would embody the values of a Great Transition future.

  • Transforming the Corporation

    Allen White

    Allen White traces the genesis, growth, and evolution of the modern corporation and its role in wealth creation. He outlines a vision for the future of the corporation that reflects the core values of human solidarity, ecological sustainability, and quality of life. He then explores the way forward to realize such a values-based shift in the design and operation of the corporation.

  • Trading into the Future: Rounding the Future to Sustainable Development

    Mark Halle

    Mark Halle explores the assumptions underlying the architecture of the multilateral trade regime and how it has both delivered and failed to deliver on the various promises of trade theory. He argues that sustainable development can be achieved by a more rigorous enforcement of and commitment to—rather than abandonment of—the espoused principles. He concludes by analyzing how trade would function in the three archetypal regions imagined in the Great Transition.

  • Security in the Great Transition

    Charles Knight

    From the perspective of a historian writing in 2084, Charles Knight writes the history of how the world transitioned away from the paradigms of war and militarism and to a greater emphasis on cooperative security and “human security.” He discusses the institutional and cultural shifts that would effect such a non-violent and equitable world.

  • How Technology Could Contribute to a Sustainable World

    Philip Vergragt

    Philip Vergragt examines how and which technologies could contribute to a sustainable society envisioned in the Great Transition scenario. He develops a broad picture of future technological developments in a Great Transition and explores a vision and associated events, pathways, mechanisms, and choices to help realize this vision.

  • Great Transition Values: Present Attitudes, Future Changes

    Robert Kates, Anthony Leiserowitz, Thomas Parris

    Anthony Leiserowitz, Robert Kates, and Thomas Parris analyze current public attitudes toward the three key values of a Great Transition: quality of life, human solidarity, and ecological sensibility. They discuss how the forces of population growth, globalization, technological innovation, climate change, and—importantly—surprise will influence such values along the path toward a Great Transition future.

  • The Role of Well-Being in a Great Transition

    John Stutz

    John Stutz analyzes available data on well-being, focusing on the three components of welfare, contentment, and freedom. He offers a vision of a future in which society has embraced the lessons learned from such analysis, particularly the importance of time affluence, and outlines a strategy to achieve a heightened quality of life through value changes, coalition building, and policy action.

  • Feminist Praxis: Women’s Transnational and Place Based Struggles for Change

    Wendy Harcourt

    Wendy Harcourt et al. look at the context in which feminism is practiced by the women’s movements around the world. They present the Women and Politics of Place framework as an analytical approach that can inform our understanding of the many women’s networks engaged in the Great Transition. They then propose ideas for a feminist vision for the future built on realpolitik and feminist struggles for change.

  • Sustainable Communities and the Great Transition

    James Goldstein

    James Goldstein describes how the forces of globalization and urbanization have strengthened place-based identities while fostering broad recognition of the need for sustainable development. He identifies the key actors in efforts to ensure community sustainability and examines the limitations of such activities. He outlines the design of a sustainable city under the Great Transition and offers lessons from the Boston Scenarios Project to move us forward toward such a goal.

  • Climate Change: Redemption Through Crisis

    Sivan Kartha

    Sivan Kartha explores the complexity of the climate problem and ways to address it. He considers contrasting optimistic and pessimistic narratives of the future, and outlines a Great Transition society living in peace with its climatic constraints. He then discusses the pathway toward such a society.

  • Resilience and Pluralism: Ecosystems and Society in a Great Transition

    Nicolás Lucas, Elena Bennett

    Elena Bennett and Nicolas Lucas discuss the increasing scale and rate of ecosystem change due to human impacts in the twentieth century as well as the unevenly distributed benefits and vulnerabilities from such change. They argue for the need to transcend the nation-state and the dominant economic growth paradigm in order to develop adequate policies and institutions for addressing the socio-ecological challenges of the coming decades.

  • Dawn of the Cosmopolitan: The Hope of a Global Citizens Movement

    Orion Kriegman

    Orion Kriegman examines the potential for a global citizens movement by drawing on relevant lessons from past and current social movements. He argues that, although the emergence of such a movement might not be probable, it is nonetheless possible at this historical moment of growing interdependence and collective risk. He addresses the missing ingredients for the development of such a movement and points to further avenues for assessing its possibilities.

  • World Lines: Pathways, Pivots, and the Global Future

    Paul Raskin

    Looking at the concurrence of global crises, Paul Raskin provides a theoretical framework for analyzing structural change in human-ecological systems. He explores the possible forms and interactions of two key uncertainties—the aforementioned crises and human intentionality—in the landscape of the future, as well as the various paths that could result. He concludes by highlighting prospects and strategies for the formation of a global movement rooted in a planetary ethos.