Summer Research Seminar 2014

Fifteen Friends gathered at Philadelphia’s Friends’ Center to discuss a broad variety of topics and to provide deep worship in support of this work. In addition, QIF sponsored a public presentation on “An Ecologically Integrated Economy.” A description of the 2014 research topics is included below.


1. Steps Toward an Ecologically Integrated Economy – Phil Emmi, Steve Loughlin, Burt Dallas

The Summer Seminar included a three session discernment project titled “Steps Toward an Ecologically Integrated Economy” co-sponsored by QIF and the Eco-Justice Working Group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. This discernment project was convened to help develop an approach for communication with Congressional office staff and legislators around the problem of exponential economic growth on a finite planet. The project aimed to frame questions that would help open this kind of communication and to identify policy options that address the problem.

A paper has been drafted on the project’s findings along with guidelines for developing the communication envisioned.

2. A Call for National Healing – Paula Palmer, Boulder MM, CO

Exploring a national truth and reconciliation process for the wounds of colonization. Must we acknowledge the harm we have done, repent, and atone for the harm before we can move forward as a nation in a new spirit, answering to that of God in all beings? Are truth-telling, reconciliation, and healing necessary pre-requisites to bringing about right relationship among all peoples and the earth itself?

3. The Challenges of a ‘Smarter Planet’: Right Relationships on a Wiser Earth – Gray Cox, Acadia MM, Bar Harbor, ME

As ever “smarter” artificial intelligence regulates our world, how can Quakers promote right relationships between people and those systems? Increasingly more of our planet’s systems are monitored and controlled by intensive, systematic and sophisticated forms of artificial intelligence. What would it mean to work to insure that the result is in fact not just, in IBM’s phrase, a “Smarter Planet”, but a truly Wiser Earth?

4. Exploring Consciousness in a Living Universe – Jim Grant, Acadiana Friends Meeting, Lafayette, LA

The worlds of science and spirituality, which have been growing apart for several centuries, can be bridged by the shifting of metaphysical foundations to consciousness as the fundamental nature of reality. This shift could be seminal for the successful transition that we will need to make to thrive as a species on the planet in the future.

5. Leadership and Development from the Center – Virginia Swain, Cambridge and Worcester Meetings, MA

The United Nations needs to go through a spiritual renaissance, enlarge their vision into a global community living in the laws of justice (Hammarskjold), rewrite history for people to claim the light within (Thomas Kelly) and include the will of the people to reconcile the global problematique.

6. My Story, Our Story – Leonard Joy, Strawberry Creek MM (Berkeley)

What is the most significant thing I, and Quakers, might do to secure a fulfilling future for humanity and Earth?

7. The Testimony Of Simplicity And Thoughts Toward An Economic Platform – Mary Ellen Cohane, Northampton Friends Meeting

How do we change to a steady-state economic system that values, not short-term profits, but human, social, and natural capital?

Quaker Institute for the Future