Origins of The Sustainability Project / Inviting Debate


In the early 1970s, the Institute for the Study of Cultural Evolution (ISCE) began an inventory of the concerns and aspirations of people voluntarily working for a better world.

Where are we heading? Where should we be heading? What do you know about the way in which society changes? These were the questions we asked across Canada and the US. Notes were made of the responses and from recommended literature. After four years, all the notes were sorted by similarities and the resulting categories identified the outline of sustainability - a common denominator of popular concern and vision.

As a statement of direction, this outline provides an important service. People worry when they feel our institutions are not rising to the challenge of the times. When they look around to see what other options there are, they find movements focusing on environment, development, peace, justice and getting the most out of being human. It is not always clear that these concerns are all parts of the same vision and much new energy is lost to uncertainty about choosing among them.

As a goal, sustainability includes all these movements. When people are looking for a direction that makes more sense than the social and economic goals that we have outgrown, sustainability offers one alternative with many well-developed branches. Confident that there is a clear option, people can respond to their concerns by looking into the component movements to see where their skills and interests fit.

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