Elgin, Duane – MBA, PhD

Duane ElginDuane Elgin is an American author, speaker, educator, consultant, and media activist.

He attended the Sorbonne in Paris for one semester in 1963 and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Idaho in 1966. He received a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and a Master of Arts in economic history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969.

In the early 1970s, Elgin was a senior staff member on a joint Presidential-Congressional Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. The commission’s task was to look ahead from 1970 to 2000 and explore challenges of urbanization and population growth.

Elgin moved to California, where he worked as a senior social scientist with the “futures group” at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) and co-authored studies of the long-range future. His report on Voluntary Simplicity, co-authored with Arnold Mitchell, was published by SRI in June 1976. The report was expanded and republished with a survey in CoEvolution Quarterly in 1977. More than a thousand pages were received in response to the survey. These first-hand accounts formed the basis for his book Voluntary Simplicity, which appeared in 1981. Elgin left SRI International in 1977.

During the 1980s, he co-founded two non-profit non-partisan organizations concerned with media accountability and citizen empowerment. The national one was called “Choosing Our Future” and the San Francisco Bay Area organization was called “Bay Voice”. Their mission was to give citizens a greater voice in their community by using the public airwaves for interactive “electronic town meetings”. Elgin continues to promote citizen use of mass media for dialogue about the future. In 2012, Elgin and a small team launched Great Transition Stories, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand ongoing societal transitions.

Awards and honors

In 1999, a group of roughly 30 ‘evolutionary leaders’ met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India over a period of five days to explore “Synthesis Dialogues” and themes of the new paradigm and building a sustainable and a spiritual future for humanity. In 2001 Elgin was awarded an honorary PhD for work in “ecological and spiritual transformation” from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also a member of the CIIS “Council of Sages”. In 2006 Elgin received the annual Goi International Peace Award in Japan in recognition of his contribution to a global “vision, consciousness, and lifestyle” that fosters a “more sustainable and spiritual culture”.

Elgin has been a visiting scholar at Denison University in Ohio in May, 2004 (for a 5-day workshop on theme of “Simplicity and Envisioning a Positive Future”). He has also been a ‘distinguished scholar’ at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida in 2012 where he spoke to both public and student audiences about our time of “great transition”. Duane Elgin was described in April 2009 by the Ecologist Magazine as one of the ten leading visionaries with “big ideas for a better world”.


  • Co-author, Alternative Futures for Environmental Policy Planning: 1975 – 2000, prepared by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, for the Environmental Protection Agency, 1975, Contract NSF/STP 76-02573.
  • Co-author, Assessment of Future National and International Problem Areas, prepared by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, for the National Science Foundation, 1977, NSF/STP76-02573.
  • Limits to the Management of Large, Complex Systems, prepared for the National Science Foundation by SRI International, Menlo Park, California, 1977, Contract NSF/STP76-02573.
  • Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich, (published in three editions, 1981, 1993, 2010), Harper, January 5, 2010, ISBN 978-0-06-177926-8.
  • Co-author with Arnold Mitchell, Voluntary Simplicity for the Long Range Planning Service and Business Intelligence Program at SRI International, Menlo Park, California, June 1976, Report No. 1004.
  • Co-author and project director, City Size and the Quality of Life[permanent dead link]: An Analysis of the Policy Implications of Continued Population Concentration, prepared by the Stanford Research Institute for the National Science Foundation and United States Senate, Washington, D. C., 1974, NSF Contract GI.138462.
  • Awakening Earth: Exploring the Evolution of Human Culture and Consciousness, published by Wm. Morrow, 1993, ISBN 978-0-688-11621-7.
  • Promise Ahead: A Vision of Hope and Action for Humanity’s Future, published by Wm. Morrow (now Harper), 2000, ISBN 0-688-17191-5.
  • Co-author: Elgin worked with a small team of scholars, including Joseph Campbell, to co-author the major report, Changing Images of Man, prepared by the Stanford Research Institute for the Kettering Foundation, 1974, and published as a book by the same title by Pergamon Press in 1981, ISBN 978-0-08-024313-9.
  • Global Consciousness Change: Indicators of an Emerging Paradigm, prepared by Duane Elgin with Coleen LeDrew for the Fetzer Institute, the State of the World Forum, The Institute of Noetic Sciences, The California Institute of Integral Studies, and the Brande Foundation, 1997.
  • The Living Universe: Where Are We? Who Are We? Where Are We Going?, published by Berrett-Koehler, 2009, ISBN 978-1-57675-969-1.