Upper Valley 20/20 - Why a Vision and Why Now? Or Using Systems Thinking to Engineer a New Economic Model

William Bittinger, President, Donella Meadows Institute

Friday, January 6, 2012, 3:30pm

Spanos Auditorium

This seminar is part of the Jones Seminars on Science, Technology, and Society series

This past year the Connecticut River Valley region commemorated the 250th year of its modern era. These past twenty years have seen major regional growth without the benefit of coordinated planning with our quality of life coming under pressure. And these past three years have exposed the full costs of the neoclassical economic model: creative destruction and financial and market crashes. The convergence of these two phenomena – one local and one global – has lead to a realization that a new economic model which incorporates long term planning and policy-making is needed.

Solving big problems requires systems thinking. —Jeff Immelt, Dartmouth ’78, CEO, General Electric

The Donella Meadows Institute of Norwich, VT, founded by Dana Meadows, Harvard Ph.D. and McArthur Prize-winner, plans to take the lead in applying systems thinking to the challenges of building a New Economic Model. The process involves integrating economic activity within ecological systems and includes: ecological economics, resource utilization, industrial ecology, and infrastructure systems analysis. Fundamentally, the challenge is – how to reconcile the growth imperative with the limits to growth caused by resource constraints. The January 6 program will set the framework for the systems-based approach to the New Economy and describe how our region will play a part in demonstrating its value. And as past Dartmouth President Jim Wright said in the summer of 2011: “If we can’t do it here, where can we?”

About the Speaker

Bill Bittinger has had a 35 year career in the field of urban development as a planner, designer, and developer in the public, private, and non-profit sectors. He was educated at Bucknell, New York, and Harvard universities. Prior to serving as either president or executive director of two New England community development organizations, he worked as a project manager in the Mayor’s Offices in Boston and NY and as a finance officer for a New York City-based international bank. His project credits include: Roosevelt Island New Town; the South Station intermodal transportation facility; Summercrest, the first mixed income assisted living facility in New Hampshire; the LEED-certified Railroad Row redevelopment in VT; and numerous affordable housing and high performance green buildings as well as several conservation development projects in the Connecticut River Valley. Bill, a NH resident, is president of the Donella Meadows Institute, Norwich, VT, a research, consulting, and educational non-profit whose mission is to apply systems analysis and organization learning strategies to the challenges of bringing resource consumption into line with the earth’s ecological capacity.