by Gray Cox, published by Quaker Institute for the Future and Producciones de la Hamaca, 2023 ($25.00)
“. . . not simply a treatise of where we are but a prescription on how we can achieve the better outcome. What a wonderful world we might live in if everyone took a dose of this medicine.”– Katie Wasserman, AI consultant for Wall Street corporations
Technology employing Artificial Intelligence systems needs to be wiser, not just more efficient and “smarter”. It must balance all the relevant values to make life more just, convivial, ecologically sustainable, and spiritually nourishing. This requires an expansion of the conceptions of rationality used in AI technology as well as in mainstream economics, politics, and ethics.
This book describes the kind of dialogical rationality needed by drawing on contemporary research on conflict resolution and peacemaking including Quaker, Gandhian, Indigenous, and other traditions of collaborative reasoning and ethical choice. To respond effectively to threats from ecological collapse, climate change, wars of mutually assured destruction, and out of control technology, it offers systematically wiser ways to reason in our daily lives and collectively transform our dominant institutions.
“We may never be able to create machines in our own image, but perhaps we can engineer machines to reflect and respect our values. This book is a guide to what that image of ourselves could be.” – Rich Hilliard, software engineer
“Gray Cox is a singularly gifted New England-based scholar and teacher in the Quaker tradition of Rufus Jones, Douglas Steere, Elise and Kenneth Boulding, and Thomas Kelly. I anticipate that Smarter Planet or Wiser Earth? may well influence public discourse surrounding Artificial Intelligence and, in the words of Gray Cox, help “change the conception of rationality at the core of mainstream economics, politics, technology and ethics.” That would be a substantial contribution to the world our children and grandchildren will inherit.” —Tom Bertrand, former president of Brevard College and former executive director of the National Peace Foundation
Book homepage at: https://smarterplanetorwiserearth.com/
by Peter G. Brown and Geoffrey Garver with Keith Helmuth, Robert Howell and Steve Szeghi, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, 2009 ($16.95)
“This book deserves to sell a million copies.” Herman Daly, author of For the Common Good.
The author’s of this book have taken a core Quaker principle—“right relationship”—as the foundation for a new economic model. Our current economic system, which assumes endless growth and limitless accumulation of wealth, flies in the face of the fact that earth’s life support capacity is finite. The result is increasing destruction of the natural world and growing, sometimes lethal, tension between the rich and the poor. Right Relationship poses five basic questions: What is the economy for? How does it work? How big is too big? What’s fair? How can it best be governed? The author’s propose new answers to these questions that combine an acute awareness of ecological limits with a fundamental focus on fairness. In conclusion, they lay out four steps to a “whole Earth economy” that respects the integrity, resilience, and beauty of human communities within the whole commonwealth of life.
“Right Relationship is the right book at the right time.” David Orr, author of Earth in Mind.
“Right Relationship is absolutely right; we need to redesign our economic system…” Peter Barnes, author of Who Owns the Sky?
QIF Focus Books
Toward a Life-Centered Economy: From the Rule of Money to the Rewards of Stewardship (2019 – QIF #12)
Energy Choices: Opportunities to Make Wise Decisions for a Sustainable Future (2018 – QIF #11)
Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith (2016 – QIF #10)
Toward a Right Relationship with Finance: Debt, Interest, Growth, and Security (2016 – QIF #9)
Climate, Food and Violence: Understanding the Connections, Exploring Responses (2014 – QIF #8)
A Quaker Approach to Research: Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment (2014 – QIF #7)
Beyond the Growth Dilemma: Toward an Ecologically Integrated Economy (2012 – QIF #6)
It’s the Economy, Friends: Understanding the Growth Dilemma (2012 – QIF #5)
How Does Societal Transformation Happen?Values Development, Collective Wisdom, and Decision Making for the Common Good (2011 – QIF #4)
Genetically Modified Crops: Promises, Perils, and the Need for Public Policy (2011 – QIF #3)
How On Earth Do We Live Now? Natural Capital, Deep Ecology, and the Commons (2011 – QIF #2)
Fueling our Future: A Dialogue about Technology, Ethics, Public Policy, and Remedial Action (2009 – QIF #1)
Prepared by: John Lodenkamper, Paul Alexander, Pete Baston, and Judith Streit
2019 ($15) Purchase
Toward a Life-Centered Economy: From the Rule of Money to the Rewards of Stewardship shows how we as consumers and investors could shift the marketplace toward sustainable, non-polluting products and promote geographic re-localization. Economic synergism will give all the stakeholders a place at the table: labor, management, shareholders, customers, suppliers, community, and, most especially, Earth’s ecosystems.
The current money-centered economy is not sustainable because it is dependent on infinite growth. Human exploitation, or over-exploitation, of Earth’s land, natural resources and biological productivity now approaches or exceeds many natural limits. By discounting the future in monetary terms, our current system drives short-term extraction of resources at the expense of future generations.
However, an attractive alternative can develop from the grassroots in parallel with the current system and replace its worst aspects. This life-centered economic system emphasizes “quality of life” over “quantity of stuff.” It implies a more thoughtful use of our time for the things that are truly important, such as fulfillment of our individual potentials and our relationships with family, friends and our greater community.
Robert Bruninga, with Judy Lumb, Frank Granshaw, and Charles Blanchard
2018 ($15) Purchase
With Energy Choices, Robert (Bob) Bruninga joins a long tradition of Quaker action and witness that speaks to a wide audience about the work of human betterment. Although addressed to members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), this book will be a helpful guide for anyone who is interested in the energy future of their home, business, transportation, or institutional facilities. While this book is intensely practical and packed with important information for understanding and making clean energy choices, it is also a guide that addresses an overriding spiritual and ethical issue of our time—the human-earth relationship. Reconfiguring energy use away from fossil fuels to clean, renewable electricity is a big step toward creating a mutually enhancing human-earth relationship. Bob Bruninga shows how we can move in that direction—now!
Ruah Swennerfelt; Foreword by Rob Hopkins
2016 ($15) Purchase
This book is intended to be a tool for those already involved in greening their faith traditions and for those who see green faith as part of a sustainable human presence on planet Earth. Both groups feel the need for communities that have cohesion and resilience and find that working through Transition at the grassroots builds those kinds of communities. Those just coming to understand that care for Earth is a spiritual concern can learn more about what they can do. Everyone will find stories from people around the world who have found a home in the Transition Movement. This book is designed to be useful to local Transition organizers who do not see themselves as religious, but who want to better understand how to reach out to, and interact with, communities of faith in their local areas. These insights should help Transition organizers build stronger, more inclusive Transition Initiatives by drawing on the institutional, ethical, and motivational resources of local faith communities.
Prepared by: Pamela Haines, Ed Dreby, David Kane, and Charles Blanchard
2016 ($15) Purchase
The global economy is failing to provide equitable well-being for humanity and a life-sustaining future for Earth. However, institutional endowments and many individuals’ retirement savings depend on that same growth economy. With many people counting on the performance of Wall Street for their income security, how can the economic system be challenged with integrity and effectiveness? This book discusses our current economic system – how it is based on unearned income, on the one hand, and debt, on the other, with a built-in momentum toward economic inequality and ecological overshoot. It frames the conversation within the context of deeply held values and beliefs, and suggests plausible and historically grounded alternatives to the current system. The book invites readers to imagine new forms of durable economic and social security, and to help create the relationships and institutions that will make them a reality.
Read the full text of Toward a Right Relationship with Finance online. Please consider a donation.
Prepared by: Judy Lumb, Phil Emmi, Mary Gilbert, Leonard Joy, Laura Holliday, and Shelley Tanenbaum
October 2014 ($12) Purchase
The purpose of Climate, Food and Violence is to provide the information needed for an understanding of the issues arising in this double challenge in an accessible form to facilitate appropriate action. Included is a review of the current and potential effects of climate change on food production, of the control of food production and distribution, and of the potential for violent conflict. Appropriate responses are discussed in the context of a Quaker approach to solutions leading to a future where all humans, as well as the rest of God’s creatures, have access to the means for a fulfilling life.
This eighth book in the QIF Focus Book series was prepared by a QIF Circle of Discernment in support of the work of the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby in the public interest. While these pamphlets have been prepared for use within the Religious Society of Friends, they will also be of interest and use to anyone who is seeking to understand the connections among climate change, food and violence; and is motivated to work for a future of equality and resilience on Earth for the entire commonwealth of life.
Gray Cox with Charles Blanchard, Geoff Garver, Keith Helmuth, Leonard Joy, Judy Lumb, and Sara Wolcott
June 2014 ($12) Purchase
A Quaker Approach to Research: Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment grows out of a decade of experiments employing Quaker processes of communal discernment in research in the context of public policy, academic study, and community-based research. The guiding hypothesis has been that the methods developed by Quakers for spirit-led governance could be adapted for spirit-led research. The aim of this book is to describe 1) the vision, theory, and traditions of practice inspiring a Quaker approach to research; 2) experiments with specific methods used; 3) initial results and findings; and 4) the key challenges and puzzles that remain. It further aims to explore the relevance of Quaker process when the participants are not Quaker or even religious.
Prepared by: Growth Dilemma Project of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Quaker Institute for the Future
Ed Dreby and Judy Lumb, Editors
October 2012 ($12) Purchase
Beyond the Growth Dilemma builds a framework for the changes that are needed to lead us to an ecologically integrated economy. This kind of economy leads to prosperous and thriving lives for humans and other creatures within the limits of planet Earth. Our society’s basic goal must change from “more” to “enough.” Changes in the way we earn our livelihoods, goods are produced, money is created, and the commons are governed are all considered.
Beyond the Growth Dilemma is a companion volume to the preceding book in this series, It’s the Economy, Friends: Understanding the Growth Dilemma, which provides background information on the current functioning of our economy and shows why its unremitting drive for growth cannot continue within the limited ecosystems of Earth.
While these books have been prepared by The Growth Dilemma Project of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), they will also be of interest and use to anyone who is seeking to understand how the growth dilemma can be resolved to better serve people and planet by the development of an ecologically integrated economy.
Prepared by: Growth Dilemma Project of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Quaker Institute for the Future
Ed Dreby, Keith Helmuth, and Margaret Mansfield, Editors
May 2012 ($12) Purchase
In times of crisis, profound questions sometimes emerge in straightforward and clarifying ways. With the world’s dominant economic system now struggling to recover from near collapse, it is important to ask: “What is the economy for?” It is no longer coherent to say, “for increasing material wealth through unlimited economic growth.”
In 2009 Quaker Institute for the Future (QIF) published the book Right Relationship: Building a Whole Earth Economy, which concluded “the purpose of the economy is to preserve and enhance the integrity, resilience, and beauty of the whole commonwealth of life.” It’s the Economy, Friends, has now been published in collaboration with the Growth Dilemma Project of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
It’s the Economy, Friends provides a detailed discussion how our current economy works and why its unremitting drive for growth is damaging Earth’s ecosystems, increasing the disparity between rich and poor, and plunging both human societies and the natural world into a state of unsustainable crisis. While this book has been prepared for use within the Religious Society of Friends, it will be of interest and use to anyone who is seeking to understand both orthodox and ecological economics and how the growth dilemma can be resolved to better serve people and planet.
How Does Societal Transformation Happen? Values Development, Collective Wisdom, and Decision Making for the Common Good
October 2011 ($12) Purchase
There is a pervasive sense in our society that we are in a bad place and things are getting worse. This study by Leonard Joy, a veteran of international economic and social development work, is aimed directly at the kind of societal transformation required to stop this slide into catastrophe and begin to advance the growth of security and well-being for human communities and the whole commonwealth of life. His insights are both necessary and timely. With increasing recognition and implementation, they might also be sufficient.
According to Leonard Joy’s well-seasoned vision, this integrated task requires moving into the next phase of human values development where the world is seen not as “a problem with which I must cope” but as a “creative project in which I want to participate.” Movement in this direction constitutes a transformation in both the kind of person a society promotes and the kind of society individuals promote.
Emerging out of this reciprocation would be a transformed set of values embracing equity, integration, actualization, and service. Communication would take on an ethic of honesty, sincerity, comprehensibility and truthfulness. There would arise an appreciation of interdependency, an impulse toward generosity, and a respect for thresholds, limits and boundaries.
Leonard Joy sees individual values development as a prototype for societal transformation. He helps us understand the progression of human values development and the associated dynamics of societal transformation. He challenges precepts of international economic development, advancing instead a practice of societal development.
This book is a guide for understanding the metamorphosis of societal transformation, and a manual for the practice of collaborative discernment and effective decision making for the common good.
Anne Mitchell with Pinayur Rajagopal, Keith Helmuth and Susan Holtz
July 2011 ($12) Purchase
A conflict over the future control of food is now coming into prominence worldwide. On the one hand there are those who are focused on ramping up the technology of large-scale food production. On the other there are those who see a vast potential to increase the food production capacity of small-scale farmers world wide through the science-based implementation of eco-agriculture.
For several decades, large agri-business corporations, utilizing a growing range of biotechnologies, have claimed the use of their products is the only way to feed the world. A key factor on which they pinned their forecast was the increased use of genetically modified (GM) crops. This pamphlet assesses this claim in the light of current evidence. It surveys the controversy over agricultural biotechnology and the role of public policy in the regulation of transgenic crops. It places biotechnology within an ethical context of concern for equity, the environment, and the common good. It presents a framework for understanding the varieties of biotechnologies and for gauging strategic action on public policy.
The unimpeded acceptance of GM food crops has hit several snags: 1) Consumer rejection in some regions of the world; 2) farmers refusing to adopt GM crops; 3) public policy intervention; 4) field experience with GM crops falling short of test projections. The steady march to a corporate controlled, global market food system is now being called into question.
Both chemically dependent biotech agriculture and organic eco-agriculture have now been in the field long enough that comparative results are being compiled. For the first time, transnational agri-business is facing the possibility that community based eco-agriculture will check its global move on the future control of food, and offer a more sustainable alternative. Safety, health, equity, ethics, and environmental concerns are food system issues in every society. This pamphlet is a short guide to these issues and the way they are becoming increasingly contested. It will be helpful for understanding biotechnology issues and for guidance on engaging these issues at the level of public policy for the common good.
David Ciscel, Barbara Day, Keith Helmuth, Sandra Lewis, and Judy Lumb
June 2011 ($12) Purchase
A radical re-assessment is underway on what it will take to prevent our industrial-commercial civilization from sliding sideways into the ditch of ecological breakdown and economic collapse. Many folks are now trying to engage this crisis from a footing of ecological integrity and social solidarity. Yet, the web of life is disrespected, degraded, and disrupted on every hand by destructive economic activity. More and more the critical factors of ecological integrity and social equity are compromised and unhinged by an economy that is both dysfunctional and out of control. As economist, David Ciscel, put it in a recent issue of Quaker Eco-Bulletin (QEB), “It’s the economy, Friends.”
This book takes up the question, “how on Earth do we live now?” as both a cry of alarm and a call to action. It views our dilemma through the lens of “natural capital” and the lens of “deep ecology.” The editorial team of QEB, along with David Ciscel, composed a Circle of Discernment under the auspices of Quaker Institute for the Future to study this situation and its potential resolution. In the course of this study, the commons emerged as a third point of reference in which the natural capital and deep ecology disciplines can work in concert toward a mutually enhancing human-earth relationship.
This study explores two essential parts of Earth’s commons: property and water. It continues with a close look at systems of governance for the commons, and a new look at human nature’s capacity for cooperative, collaborative action on behalf of the common good. The pamphlet concludes by considering what Quakers, and all others who place a high value on the ethics of right relationship, can bring to the task of rebuilding environmental integrity and advancing social equity at home and worldwide.
Prepared by: Earthcare Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and Quaker Institute for the Future
Ed Dreby & Keith Helmuth, Coordinators; Judy Lumb, Editor
March 2009 ($12) Purchase
Climate change and energy futures are splitting the environmental movement. Some environmentalists now defend nuclear power from an ethical point of view. Others are appalled. Opinions differ over whether solar, wind, and other non-carbon energy technologies can keep the lights on. Some hold out hope for “clean coal” and deep earth storage of captured carbon. Others say this is economically unfeasible and dangerous. A rush to bio-fuels is touted as “green energy.” Others see it as sacrificing food for fuel. Our energy future is stacked with technical options and policy dilemmas, but above all with ethical choices. In Fueling our Future, Quakers expert in both the technical and ethical issues, provide key information, critical analysis and thoughtful dialogue on choices for our energy future. Fueling our Future will assist concerned citizens in their evaluation of public policy and personal choices.
How to Purchase QIF Books
QIF books can be purchased directly from the Institute. Shipping is free. Payment can be made using the Donate link here and sending your order via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Books purchases can also be paid for by check payable to QIF. Send your order, payment, and shipping address to:
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