Our vision, our work

Advancing a new planetary vision

Tellus Institute strives to advance a planetary civilization rooted in justice, well-being, and sustainability. Our work addresses key dimensions of a transformative global praxis—understanding, vision, and action—by fostering scholarship, developing scenarios, and mobilizing networks for change. At this perilous juncture in human affairs, Tellus now more than ever joins engaged thinkers and thinking activists the world over in shaping a global transition, the great challenge of our time.

History at a Turning Point
Our journey to planetary civilization

The world has entered the Planetary Phase of Civilization, a new epoch of accelerated change and heightened risk. Long threads of interdependence—economic, cultural, technological, political, and environmental—are binding the planet’s people and biosphere into a single community of fate. Some form of globalized civilization will take shape in the coming decades, but its ultimate character remains uncertain and contested. The path of world development depends on how we respond collectively to emergent crises and opportunities.

Dangerous Pathways
The perils of conventional development

The conventional development paradigm assumes twenty-first century challenges can be adequately addressed through piecemeal market and policy adjustments. But a system that privileges profit over need, growth over resilience, and state-centrism over global governance would be ill-equipped for coping with looming non-conventional perils. Quite plausibly, Conventional Worlds scenarios could veer rather abruptly toward some form of Barbarization scenario, a descent into anarchic chaos, perhaps, or global repression.

Transforming Our World
Emergence of a global community

The risk of evolutionary drift and catastrophic decline is all too real, but not inevitable. We still have time and world enough to shape a Great Transition, a civilization where the health of the environment, the breadth of human solidarity, and the quality of lives become the legitimate measures of development. Turning toward such a future depends on our collective capacity as global citizens to gain new insights, embrace new values, and take common actions.

Great Transition Visions

Learn about global scenarios GT fp

Featured Publications

Great Transition Ideas

A six minute exposition