Section I. The Threatening Catastrophe: Responding Now

Track 5: Economic System Transformation
(David Lewit)

In Sessions 1-6 auditors watch a variety of visionaries present their views of troubling institutions and salutary institutions, and dialog to develop consensus on needed new or transformed institutions, their connections, and means to achieve a humane, ecological, global economy by 2040. Auditors take over sessions 7-8 to revise visionaries’ consensus whose perspectives include globalization, militarization, technology, cooperation, banking, economic democracy, social movements, and change psychology.

 Symposium Members (presenter-discussants): 

* Andrew G. Marshall, Hampton Institute independent scholar, Montreal. Focus on corporate power systems worldwide.

* Bruce Gagnon, Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space. Focus on militarization, space-based surveillance and war direction, alternative security options.

* Henry Lieberman, Visiting Scientist, Media Lab, MIT. Focus on artificial intelligence, human-computer interaction, cooperation and competition, patents.

* David Ellerman, Visiting Scholar, U of California at Riverside. Focus on worker-owned enterprises, co-operatives.

* Gwen Hallsmith, Vermonters for a New Economy, Global Community Initiatives. Focus on local economies, resources, community law-making, public banking.

* J Phillip Thompson, Urban Studies and Planning, MIT. Focus on urban politics and democracy, trade unions, community development.

* Michal Osterweil, U of North Carolina. Public anthropology. Focus on new political imaginary, feminism, movement of movements.

* Maureen O’Hara, National University, San Diego. Focus on psychology of personal and group dynamics for transition to 21st Century life and enterprise.

This group of young and older visionaries aims to come up with a model economic system including insights on how to get there. We represent a spectrum of perspectives— corporate globalization, militarism, technology, banking, resources,

economic democracy, social movements, and personal transformation. Over the first four sessions each member will speak for 15 minutes, focusing on some presently troubling key institution and a future salutary key institution, e.g., the present International Monetary Fund and a future democratic employment exchange. Between presentations members will discuss such institutions and their linkages in the context of multi-faceted systems, actual and imagined.

In sessions 5 and 6 we will discuss dynamic integration of such elements within a new system, with concerns for inclusiveness, justice, creativity, and adaptability. Further, we will discuss the means for transforming the dysfunctional present system into a just and sustainable new system—aiming for consensus. Sessions 7 and 8 will open the discussion to audience members who have attended earlier sessions.

The moderator and Ruth Caplan, our facilitator/note taker, will tie successive sessions together by starting each session with highlights of the previous session. All sessions will be professionally filmed for wider presentation and development as well as scholarly followup.


Note: AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION here is different from the usual. Sessions 7 and 8 will invite audience to come to the table and critically and constructively discuss the work of the symposium from their diverse viewpoints. That is, there will be no Q&A in prior sessions, except regarding process. Conference attendees are invited to attend all or most of these sessions, reserving their questions and comments for the two Sunday afternoon sessions (totaling 3 hours) when they can constructively interact up close with symposium members and each other. Attendees are encouraged to collaborate with symposium members following the conference. 


Presenter Bios:

David Ellerman has written about the theory and practice of worker co-operatives and other forms of democratic worker ownership for over 40 years. In the late 1970s, he co-founded the Industrial Cooperative Association that adapted the Mondragon cooperative model to the American legal system. In the early >90s, he was the founder and President of EOS/Ljubljana d.o.o. in Ljubljana, Slovenia which provided consulting for the valuation, privatization, and restructuring of companies in Eastern Europe with substantial worker ownership. Prior to retirement, he fought the World Bank from the inside finishing as speech-writer and senior adviser to Chief Economist Joseph Stiglitz. This resulted in writing his fifth book, Helping People Help Themselves: From the World Bank to an Alternative Philosophy of Development Assistance. He is now a Visiting Scholar at the University of California/Riverside.


Bruce Gagnon is the Coordinator and co-founder of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. Between 1983B1998 Bruce was the State Coordinator of the Florida Coalition for Peace & Justice and has worked on space issues for 32 years. In 1987 he organized the largest peace protest in Florida history when over 5,000 people marched on Cape Canaveral in opposition to the first flight test of the Trident II nuclear missile. He was the organizer of the Cancel Cassini Campaign that launched 72 pounds of plutonium into space in 1997. Bruce is a Vietnam-era veteran and began his organizing career by working for the United Farm Workers Union in Florida organizing fruit pickers.   Home: Bath ME.


Gwendolyn Hallsmith, executive director of Global Community Initiatives and Vermonters for a New Economy, and founder and CEO of the Headwaters Garden and Learning Center, has had over 30 years= experience working on long-term environmental and economic sustainability. She authored a book with Bernard Lietaer called Creating Wealth: Growing Local Economies with Local Currencies, and another with Hunter Lovins, Bernard Lietaer and others called Local Action for Sustainable Economic Renewal. Gwendolyn led a campaign last year in Vermont where 19 towns voted to ask the state legislature to establish a public bank, and has served as the executive director of the Public Banking Institute.


Henry Lieberman is a Visiting Scientist at the MIT Media Lab. He is trying to make computers less stupid and frustrating than they are now; so his interests lie at the intersection of Artificial Intelligence and Human-Computer Interaction. He is the author and editor of three books and more than 120 academic publications. He holds a doctoral-equivalent degree (Habilitation) from the University of Paris VI and was a Visiting Professor there. Together with Chrisopher Fry, he is writing a book on how to solve the world’s political and economic problems, based on understanding the relationship between cooperation and competition. It is tentatively titled, Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?


Andrew Gavin Marshall is a freelance researcher and writer based in Montreal, Canada. He has contributed articles to, AlterNet, TruthOut, RoarMag and other online publications, and has been published in the Spanda Journal, The Province (a Canadian newspaper), and has provided commentary to news outlets such as Russia Today, CBC Radio, and Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN). He is the chair of the Geopolitics Department at the Hampton Institute and publishes his material on his own website: email:


Maureen O’Hara, PhD, Clinical Psych. and Human Development (Union Institute). Professor of Psychology (humanistic psych, organizational behavior), National University (San Diego et al., CA, and online), President Emerita, Saybrook University; founding member, International Futures Forum, Scotland, Worked with Carl Rogers leading large group encounters in many countries. Current work focuses on the threats and opportunities of global challenges and cultural shifts for consciousness evolution and well-being. Books include The Handbook of Person-centered Psychotherapy (2012) Palgrave; with Graham Leicester, 10 Things to Do in a Conceptual Emergency (2009); Dancing at the Edge: Competence, Culture and Organization in the 21st Century (2012) Triarchy. ,


Michal Osterweil received her PhD with a Certificate in Cultural Studies at UNCarolina, Chapel Hill, where she currently teaches in the Curriculum in Global Studies. Her courses and research focus on social movements and paradigms of social change, in particular what she understands as a Anew political imaginary@ being simultaneously discovered and created in a variety of spaces and movements ranging from the Zapatistas, World Social Forum, and the alter-globalization AIl movimento dei movimenti@ (Italy), and feminist, place-based, environmental and transformative movements in the US. She is co-founder and editor of Turbulence: Ideas for Movement, as well as the Carrboro Greenspace: Center for Community and Sustainability.


Phillip Thompson, Associate Professor, Dept. of Urban Studies & Planning. Community Innovators Lab. Phil earned his B.A. in sociology, Harvard University; M.U.P., Hunter College; PhD. in political science, City University of New York Graduate Center,1990. He worked as Deputy General Manager of the New York Housing Authority, and as Director of the Mayor’s Office of Housing Coordination. Phil is a frequent adviser to trade unions in their efforts to work with immigrant and community groups across the United States. He is author of Double Trouble: Black Mayors, Black Communities and the Struggle for Deep Democracy (Oxford University Press, 2006). He is currently writing a book on community building and development since the 1960s.


David Lewit [moderator], AB, Princeton; PhD, social psychology, U. Minnesota. Teaching and research at UMass/Amherst, UMichigan, UHawaii, and SUNY/Stony Brook. Since founding of Alliance for Democracy (1996): co-chair, Campaign on Corporate Globalization and Positive Alternatives; organizer of conferences on global investment, electronic voting, regional autonomy; legislation on trade oversight; citizen-drafted model treaty A Common Agreement on Investment & Society (CAIS); editor & publisher, BCA Dispatch (archive at ); Massachusetts Public Banking working group . Home: Boston MA. (617)266-8687, cell (when I’m outside MA): (617)480-6671.  


Ruth Caplan [facilitator/note-taker] As an environmental advocate, Ruth has taken the lead in preventing construction of 3 nuclear power plants; exposed/opposed financing of nuclear and coal plants via tax gimmicks; helped NH town pass first local law banning corporate taking of water; imitiated movement to pass municipal resolutions opposing trade agreements; and initiated campaign to create a public bank in Washington DC. She served as ExDir of Environmental Action, a national grassroots advocacy organization; created the interdisciplinary Economics Working Group; and chaired Sierra Club=s national energy, corporate accountability, and water privatization committees. Alliance for Democracy Board member since its founding in 1996. Home: Washington DC.    


Gianina Pellegrini [discussant] earned a PhD in psychology, with a specialization in Transformative Social Change, from Saybrook University in January 2015. Her dissertation research explored the ways Liberia has addressed sexual gender-based violence since the end of the civil war in 2003. Dr. Pellegrini is committed to defending human rights and social justice, supporting survivors of violence and trauma, and providing direct service to protect and empower women and children affected by war and violent conflict. Home: Richmond CA.


Christopher Fry [discussant] has worked in and around MIT since 1978, primarily on general purpose programming language design and the development tools for making programming easier. More recently he=d worked at the Media Lab=s Software Agents group on Common Sense Reasoning, and an application for facilitating better decision making by small groups called Justify. If software is to reach its potential, it must be embedded in our infrastructure. To that end Fry has modeled the economic and environmental aspects of Personal Rapid Transit, and the next generation of 3D printers.