What We Do

Our Mission

To develop and disseminate basic principles and practical applications of EcoTipping Points.

Concrete Objectives:

  • Refine the EcoTipping Points paradigm and its basic principles, explaining how EcoTipping Points work and how they can be applied.
  • Develop a procedural toolkit for people to create EcoTipping Points in their own communities.
  • Disseminate EcoTipping Point principles and procedures through a variety of media.
  • Collaborate to assist people who want to put EcoTipping Points into action.

What We Do

Most of us are seriously concerned about the current and future impacts of environmental problems on our lives. We want to do something but feel overwhelmed by the scale and complexity of the problems and the powerful social forces that are driving them. EcoTipping Points provide a lens for making sense of the complexity in a way that points to effective action.

The EcoTipping Points project began in January, 2004, when human ecologist (Gerry Marten) and journalist Steve Brooks were brainstorming how to communicate principles of sustainable human-environment interaction. Gerry had already presented the principles in his textbook Human Ecology: Basic Concepts for Sustainable Development and now wanted to convey them to a broader audience. Gerry and Steve concluded that “tipping points” embrace many of the most important principles, showing how people can turn environmental decline around to restoration.

To explore how this new perspective would hold up in the real world, journalist Amanda Suutari compiled nearly a hundred environmental success stories. The stories span a diversity of ecosystems, cultural and socio-economic contexts, and environmental problems from around the world. And every story seems to have a tipping point. We conducted site visits to document dozens of the stories in greater depth, developing them into our “in-depth stories,” which use the EcoTipping Point paradigm to extract lessons that can inspire and guide everyone’s efforts to achieve sustainability.” The lessons translate into basic principles for how  EcoTipping Points work and provide details that we need for a toolkit to put EcoTipping Points into action.

We want to pass on what we’ve learned to anyone who can benefit: environmental professionals, government officials, educators, students, businessmen, community groups. We have a PowerPoint presentation for explaining EcoTipping Points to professional and community groups. We’ve published articles:

To reach professionals, we organized EcoTipping Points symposia and workshops at the annual conferences of organizations such as the Society for Human Ecology, Association for Environmental Studies and Sciences, and National Council for Science and the Environment. We conducted a week-long workshop at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching for teachers to explore how EcoTipping Points can serve them. For teachers, we published EcoTipping Points: Sharing environmental success stories with students and worked several years to develop our flagship educational package How Success Works, which serves all levels from K-12 to university and mid-career courses. Then, extending an EcoTipping Points perspective to the crucial issue of food security, we published a Symposium on American Food Resilience: Promoting a Secure Food Supply.

Now we’re looking for individuals or groups – community, government, education, business – who want to work with us on applying EcoTipping Points to their own situation. It’s an opportunity to start dealing effectively with environmental problems in your community, while helping to refine the EcoTipping Points toolkit and its dissemination for broader use. We are also looking for teachers who want to work with us to field test EcoTipping Points teaching materials in their classrooms. (See more details at our “Get Involved” page.)

Contact us if you would like to work with us or make a contribution.

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