Saving nature will require sustainable new organizations, and the sustainable transformation of the institutions and organizations that are destroying nature. But how do we know what sustainability looks like, and what it requires on a rapidly changing planet?
One way to address this uncertainty is to find working examples of sustainable systems, and use them as a model for designing our institutions and organizations. Natural systems--such as ecosystems and natural communities--have a clear track record of highly complex and very sustainable groupings. We will discuss what a model based upon natural systems seems to suggest about sustainable human institutions and organizations, including topics such as successional development, cooperation, wealth accumulation, group cohesion, decision-making, resilience, and management.
Steve Thomas works as an ecologist with a focus on wetlands, hydrology, botany, and natural community succession. His education includes a BS in Botany from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and an MS in Watershed Science from Colorado State University in Fort Collins. His desire to understand how and why natural communities change over short and long timeframes connects to his interest in complex system sustainability. His recently published book, The Nature of Sustainability, models how sustainability arises and what many of its apparent attributes are. He is originally from the Chicago Region, and has spent time outdoors throughout the Midwest and in Colorado, Idaho, Washington, Arizona, and Florida.