Agoras received an invitation from Roberto Peccei, son of Aurelio Peccei, to attend the 40th anniversary celebration of the publication of The Limits to Growth at a special Club of Rome session at the Smithsonian. We sent a small delegation. Roberto extended this invitation during a cordial conversation in which Aleco and Roberto traded stories about Aurelio. Afterward Aleco said that he kept flashing back to discussions with Aurelio because Roberto sounded just like his father.
Aurelio Peccei (founder of the Club of Rome) enlisted Hasan Ozbekhan and Aleco Christakis to apply a systems approach to the impending world meta-problem, or problematique. Hasan and Aleco presented their work, The Predicament of Mankind, to the inaugural meeting of the Club of Rome in 1970. The Club rejected this proposal in favor of an MIT proposal that lead to the 1972 publication of The Limits to Growth. For more on this history, see Chapter One of A Democratic Approach.
The message from the stage dealt with the fragile global situation. Discussions of issues of sustainability, resilience, and conservation have been making their way to younger and younger audiences in our classrooms. The social challenges associated with transformational change have been elevated in the hierarchy of scholarly research. For all that, little progress has been made on the ground to overcome major sustainability problems. The onstage discussions carried an undercurrent of hopeful uncertainty.
Beyond the banners of the speakers’ platform, a dynamic community that has been wrestling with transformational change is increasingly discovering itself. From differing backgrounds and fields of study, people had gathered to join scholarship with the pragmatics of community campaigns. The Club feels porous – for while individual members of the Club clearly hold strong and potentially strongly disagreeing views, the mix of some 300 participants included citizens and social activists whose distinct campaigns are equally worthy of high praise.
From the viewpoint of the Institute for 21st Century Agoras, the Club of Rome is seeking to be inclusive with respect to perspectives on the way that we might go about living together responsibly on our planet. The undercurrent feels deep and massive. And this gives us hope.