Duane Elgin


Duane Elgin

(Author, Social Visionary and Media Activist)







With surprising speed, the world is being transformed by the powerful forces of climate disruption, overconsumption, energy depletion, species extinction, and many more. As the world changes dramatically, the old stories that gave a context for understanding our lives are losing their power, relevance and meaning. We are now between stories as the human community is in the midst of the greatest transition in our history. These are exciting times to be alive! We are being pushed by powerful trends to rise to a new level of collective wisdom and to find our way, together, into a future of sustainable prosperity. In these transformational times, there may be no more important task for humanity than to cultivate narratives in our collective imagination that can help inform and guide us toward a promising and meaningful future.

There exist numerous engaging deep stories that embrace crises as catalysts for cultural transformation, generally involving creative and cooperative action. The Great Transition Stories initiative has identified more than a dozen narratives from trusted sources (biology, psychology, mythology, cosmology, technology and more) that transform our vision of humanity’s future from a path of ruin to a path of profound transition. These stories are universal, simple, and emotionally powerful, and they invite us to realize our higher human potentials.

Once we are able to find ourselves in a larger story of humanity’s journey, we can also find our unique purpose and contribution. Our lives and times become more meaningful, change becomes less overwhelming, and we are empowered to act both individually and in concert with one another. Stories of great transition offer beacons of hope that can draw large audiences because they authentically connect with what is happening in the world.

Portions of this presentation will be interactive. Participants will be invited to explore their own stories of transition in small groups, and to see how their personal stories can be translated into compelling narratives for humanity’s story of great transition.


DUANE ELGIN is an internationally recognized speaker, author, and social visionary. He has an MBA from the Wharton Business School and an MA in economic history from the University of Pennsylvania. In 2006, Duane received the International Goi Peace Award in Japan in recognition of his contribution to a global “vision, consciousness, and lifestyle” that fosters a “more sustainable and spiritual culture.”

His books include: The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going? (2009), Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future (2000), Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life that is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich (2010, 1993 and 1981), and Awakening Earth: Exploring the Evolution of Human Culture and Consciousness (1993). With Joseph Campbell and other scholars he co-authored the book Changing Images of Man (1982). In addition, Duane has contributed chapters to twenty-two books, and has published more than a hundred major articles and blogs.

In the 1970s, Duane worked as a senior staff member on a Presidential Commission on the American Future, looking ahead thirty years to the year 2000. He then worked as a senior social scientist with the think-tank SRI International where he coauthored numerous studies of the long-range future, including Anticipating Future National and Global Problems (for the National Science Foundation), Alternative Futures for Environmental Policy (for EPA), The Future of the Automobile (for the Ford Motor Co.), and Limits to the Management of Large, Complex Systems (for the President’s Science Advisor).

Over the past thirty years, Duane has co-founded three non-profit and trans-partisan organizations working for media accountability, citizen empowerment, and a “community voice” movement that includes televised “Electronic Town Meetings” in major metropolitan areas.

As a speaker, Duane has given more than 300 keynotes and workshops with audiences ranging from business executives and civic groups to churches and college students.

For the past three years, Duane has been the executive director of a project that has brought together more than a dozen “Great Transition Stories” that offer new cultural narratives for our collective imagination and that can help guide humanity toward a sustainable and meaningful future. He is developing a growing number of collaborations with organizations in film and media, colleges and universities, business, and more.

Why I support GATE

The GATE community has enormous potential to shift our collective consciousness by offering new stories that we tell ourselves as a society. GATE represents both a unique leverage point and a bridge between our world in profound transition (economically, environmentally, socially, etc.) and the world of entertainment and story-making.

My Current Media Diet

Each day I typically begin by reviewing 60 carefully selected websites that provide news from countries around the world as well as a focus on specific areas such as new media, science, and ecology. I also blog on Huffington so I review the blogosphere regularly. My reading is voracious and spans a wide range of disciplines with books, articles, and research studies on world dynamics. I also watch a wide range of films as a way to keep up with the consciousness of the culture (and my wife is a documentary director/producer, so she also keeps me up to date).


“We are between stories.”
– Thomas Berry

“It is not by transcending this world that we are transformed but by storying it in a new way.” -
- David Loy

“Collapse is a story about the end of stories.”
– Duane Elgin