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We can create the kind of society—and world—we’d
like now and for future generations



There are political-economic system models that deliver
superior social, economic and ecological outcomes

The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring.

We are at or near the bottom among advanced democracies across a score of key indicators of national well-being—including relative poverty, inequality, education, social mobility, health, environment, militarization, democracy, and more.

We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system. The crisis now unfolding in so many ways across our country amounts to a systemic crisis.

Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power.

Large-scale system change is needed but has until recently been constrained by a continuing lack of imagination concerning social, economic and political alternatives. There are alternatives that can lead to the systemic change we need.

What's next?

Sign the Statement

Time to Face the Depth of the Systemic Crisis We Confront

It’s time for everyone who cares about our troubled country to face the depth of the systemic crisis we now confront as a nation. We must step back from the daily fray and ask: How do we actually get on a path to the kind of society—and world—we’d like now and for future generations? We must begin a real conversation—locally, nationally, and at all levels in between—on how to respond to the profound challenge of our time in history.

“If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending,” Lincoln said, “we could better judge what to do.” Today’s answer to Lincoln’s charge is grim. If one looks at “where we are” among advanced democracies across more than a score of key indicators of national well-being—including relative poverty, inequality, education, social mobility, health, environment, militarization, democracy, and more—we find ourselves exactly where we don’t want to be: at or near the bottom.

We Face a Systemic Crisis

The challenging realities of growing inequality, political stalemate, and climate disruption prompt an important insight. When big problems emerge across the entire spectrum of national life, it cannot be due to small reasons. When the old ways no longer produce the outcomes we are looking for, something deeper is occurring. We have fundamental problems because of fundamental flaws in our economic and political system. The crisis now unfolding in so many ways across our country amounts to a systemic crisis.

Today’s political economic system is not programmed to secure the wellbeing of people, place and planet. Instead, its priorities are corporate profits, the growth of GDP, and the projection of national power. If we are to address the manifold challenges we face in a serious way, we need to think through and then build a new political economy that takes us beyond the current system that is failing all around us. However difficult the task, however long it may take, systemic problems require systemic solutions.

We Need Systemic Solutions

The social pain arising from the economic crisis, the steady unfolding of the climate calamity, and many other deeply troubling developments have made it possible to pose the question of large-scale system change in a serious fashion in the United States. Yet, despite this new space for a debate about fundamental change, challenges to the system have until recently been constrained by a continuing lack of imagination concerning social, economic and political alternatives. It is said that the existing system is the only possibility, one we must accept and work with—that, as Margaret Thatcher famously insisted, “There is no alternative.” But she had it wrong.

There are Real Alternatives

The good news is that the inability of traditional politics and policies to address fundamental challenges has fueled an extraordinary amount of experimentation in communities across the United States—and around the world. It has also generated an increasing number of sophisticated and thoughtful proposals for transformative change. Together these developments suggest that it is possible to build a new and better America beyond the failed systems of the past and present.

Indeed, new terms have begun to gain currency among diverse social movements and activist communities—an indication that the domination of traditional thinking has already started to weaken. Thus we encounter the sharing economy, the caring economy, the solidarity economy, the restorative economy, the regenerative economy, the sustaining economy, the resilient economy, and, of course, the new economy. There is talk of the need for a great transition. Several of these approaches already have significant networks and thoughtful research efforts underway. New thinking by creative scholars and members of the labor movement and community-oriented advocates is also contributing to the ferment.

Time for a National Debate

It is time for Americans to think boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic difficulties facing the United States. It is time to explore genuine alternatives and new models—“the next system.” It is time to debate what it will take to move our country to a very different place, one where outcomes that are truly sustainable, equitable, and democratic are commonplace.

Those of us signing this statement are committed to working towards these ends.


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Gar AlperovitzThe Next System Project
James Gustave SpethThe Next System Project
Jane MansbridgeHarvard University
Gerald HudsonService Employees International Union
Annie LeonardGreenpeace USA
Robert B. ReichUniversity of California at Berkeley
Dean BakerCenter for Economic and Policy Research
Barbara EhrenreichAuthor
Jeffrey D. SachsColumbia University
Gerald TorresCornell University Law School
Larry CohenCommunications Workers of America
Julie MatthaeiCornerstone Cohousing
Leo GerardUnited Steelworkers
John James Conyers, Jr.Thirteenth District, Michigan
Saskia SassenColumbia University
Frances Fox PivenCity University of New York
Manuel PastorUniversity of Southern California
J. Phillip ThompsonMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Oliver StoneAcademy Award-winning Filmmaker
Medea BenjaminCODEPINK
Timothy E. WirthUnited Nations Foundation and Better World Fund
Sarita GuptaJobs With Justice
Noam ChomskyMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Van JonesThe Dream Corps & Rebuild The Dream
Lawrence MishelEconomic Policy Institute
Roxanne Dunbar-OrtizCalifornia State University
Daniel EllsbergAuthor, Whistleblower
Herman E. DalyUniversity of Maryland
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Ai-jen PooNational Domestic Workers Alliance
Anna Civic Action
Danny GloverActor, Social Activist
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Jill Stein2012 Green Party Presidential Nominee
Nancy FraserNew School for Social Research
Hilary AbellProject Equity
Dean AbrahamsonUniversity of Minnesota
Frank AckermanSynapse Energy Economics
Paul S. AdlerUniversity of Southern California
Kali AkunoMalcolm X Grassroots Movement
Michael AlbertParticipatory Economy vision
Lindsey AllenRainforest Action Network 
Patrick Almonrode350NYC
Rev. Dr. Jim AntalUnited Church of Christ
Angela AtwoodCollege Houses
Robert U. AyresINSEAD - Institut Européen d’Administration des Affaires
Jay Thomas Bad Heart BullNative American Community Development Institute
Gianpaolo Baiocchi,New York University
Gopal BalakrishnanUniversity of California, Santa Cruz
Jill BamburgPinchot University
Aman BanerjiRoosevelt Institute Campus Network
Peter BarnesWith Liberty and Dividends for All
Ed BarryPopulation Institute
Allison BasileImpact Hub DC
Ben BeachyPublic Citizen
Phyllis BennisFellow, Transnational Institute
Suzanne BergeronWomens’ Studies and Social Sciences University of Michigan Dearborn
Elaine BernardHarvard Law School
Rajasvini BhansaliInternational Development Exchange
Deepak BhargavaCenter for Community Change
Keane BhattJournalist, Activist
Kai BirdAuthor, Biographer
Angela Glover BlackwellPolicyLink
Ron BlackwellUNITE and AFL-CIO
Joseph BlasiSchool of Management and Labor Relations Rutgers University
David BollierCommon Strategies Group
Heather BoothDemocracy Partners
Craig BorowiakAssociate Professor of Political Science Haverford College
James K. BoyceUniversity of Massachusetts, Amherst
Jessica Brackman,New Economy Coalition
J. Alan BrewsterWorld Resources Institute
Robin BroadAmerican University
Ellen H. BrownPublic Banking Institute
Lester R. BrownEarth Policy Institute
Peter G. BrownMcGill University
Jennifer and Peter BuffettNoVo Foundation
John BurroughsLawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy
Dallas BurtrawCenter for Climate and Electricity Policy Resources for the Future
Marco ButtazzoniButtazzoni Consulting
Jacqueline CabassoWestern States Legal Foundation
Jose Zapata CalderonPitzer College
Katie CampbellAynah
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Marta CeroniDonella Meadows Institute
Karen ChappleUniversity of California, Berkeley
Robin ChaseCo-Founder, Zipcar
Theresa ChelikowskyFlorida Alliance of Community Development Corporations, Inc.
Leslie ChristianLeslie E Christian LLC
Christina A. ClampSouthern New Hampshire University
Mary M. ClevelandColumbia University
Jaimie CloudCloud Institute for Sustainability Education
David CobbMove to Amend
Maurie CohenNew Jersey Institute of Technology
Jonathan CohnTellus Institute
Peter ColavitoService Employees International Union
Romand ColesNorthern Arizona University
Chuck CollinsCo-Founder, Wealth for the Common Good
Melvyn ColónSouthside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance
Ken ConcaSchool of International Service American University
Christine G. CorderoCenter for Story-Based Strategy
Teresa CórdovaUniversity of Illinois at Chicago
Jose CoronaInner City Advisors (ICA)
Robert CostanzaSolutions
Harvey CoxHarvard University
Reid CramerNew America Foundation
Charlie CrayGreenpeace
Andrew CumbersProfessor of Management Adam Smith Business School University of Glasgow
Ronnie CumminsOrganic Consumers Association
Dayna CunninghamMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Elliott CurrieLaw and Society University of California, Irvine
Brian CzechCenter for the Advancement of the Steady State Economy
Bob DandrewNew World Foundation
Gerald DavisUniversity of Michigan
Michael C. DawsonUniversity of Chicago
Gopal DayaneniMovement Generation: Justice and Ecology Project
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Peter DreierOccidental College
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David EhrenfeldRutgers University
Michael EisenscherUS Labor Against the War
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Jon D. EricksonUniversity of Vermont
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Richard FalkPrinceton University
Joshua FarleyUniversity of Vermont
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Jeff FauxThe Servant Economy
Eli FeghaliNew Economy Coalition
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Deeohn FerrisSustainable Community Development Group
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Lorenzo FioramontiCentre for the Study of Governance Innovation
Richard FlacksUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Bill Fletcher, Jr.Institute for Policy Studies
Margaret FlowersIt's Our Economy,
William E. ForbathUniversity of Texas Austin
John Bellamy FosterUniversity of Oregon
Omar FreillaGreen Worker Cooperatives
George FridayUS Social Forum
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John FullertonCapital Institute
Douglas GambleManufacturing Renaissance
Laura GangGreater Boston Move to Amend
Herbert J. GansColumbia University
Dave GardnerGrowthbusters
Todd GitlinCommunications Columbia University
Tim Glynn-BurkeHarvard University
George GoehlNational People’s Action
Alexis GoldsteinThe Other 98%
Eban GoodsteinBard College
Neva GoodwinEnvironment Institute, Tufts University
Linda GordonNew York University
Greg GrandinNew York University
Alisa GravitzGreen America
William GreiderThe Nation
John A. GrimYale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Christopher GunnHobart and William Smith Colleges
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Gwendolyn HallsmithGlobal Community Initiatives and Vermonters for a New Economy
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Hildegarde HannumSchumacher Center for a New Economics
Donna HarawayUniversity of California at Santa Cruz
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Keith HarringtonInternational Student Initiative for Pluralist Economics
Lisa HasegawaNational Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development
Paul HawkenProject Drawdown
Randy HayesFoundation Earth
Richard HeinbergPost Carbon Institute
Seymour HershJournalist
Rita Axelroth HodgesUniversity of Pennsylvania
Jeffrey HollenderSeventh Generation
Melissa HooverDemocracy at Work Institute
Ted HowardThe Democracy Collaborative
Louise A. HowellsUDC David A. Clarke School of Law
Joshua HumphreysCroatan Institute
Leah Hunt-HendrixNew Economy Coalition
Jonathan T. Isham, Jr.Middlebury College
Nick IuvieneMIT Community Innovators Lab
Janine JacksonFairness & Accuracy In Reporting
Sushil JacobBerkeley Law
David JacobsMorgan State University
Saru JayaramanFood Labor Research Center University of California, Berkeley
Christopher JencksHarvard University
Christina A. JenningsNorthcountry Cooperative Development Fund
Anne R. KapuscinskiDartmouth College
Jenny KassanCutting Edge Capital
John B. KasselConservation Law Foundation
Tim KasserKnox College
J. Kēhaulani KauanuiWesleyan University
Emily KawanoCenter for Popular Economics
Michael KazinDissent Magazine
Esteban KellyNational Cooperative Business Association
Marjorie KellyThe Democracy Collaborative
Camille KerrDemocracy at Work Institute
Lee KetelsenCentral Massachusetts Move to Amend
Shamus KhanColumbia University
David KortenLiving Economies Forum
Fran KortenYES! Magazine
Nicolas KosoyMcGill University
Dan KovalikUniversity of Pittsburgh School of Law
Benjamin KunkelUtopia or Bust: A Guide to the Present Crisis
Peter KuznickAmerican University
Alnoor LadhaThe Rules
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Marilyn LangloisCalifornia Planning Commissioner
Rabbi Michael LernerNetwork of Spiritual Progressives
Andrea LevereCorporation for Enterprise Development
Ariana LevinsonUniversity of Louisville
Mark LevinsonService Employees International Union
Andrew LichtermanWestern States Legal Foundation
Alison LinganeProject Equity
Penn LohTufts University
Michelle LongBusiness Alliance for Local Living Economies
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L. Hunter LovinsNatural Capitalism Solutions
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Jessica Gordon NembhardCity University of New York
Thomas NewmarkThe Carbon Underground
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Thomas PalleyEconomic Policy Institute
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Joni PradedChelsea Green Publishing
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Will RaapNew Economy Coalition
Carolyn RaffenspergerScience and Environmental Health Network
M.V. RamanaPrinceton University
Kelly RamirezSocial Enterprise Greenhouse
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Rachelle C. SampsonUniversity of Maryland, College Park
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Norman SolomonInstitute for Public Accuracy
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Stewart WallisNew Economics Foundation (London)
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Ed WhitfieldFund for Democratic Communities
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Steven WilliamsThe Partnership CDC
Billy WimsattGamechanger Labs
Felipe WitchgerCommunity Purchasing Alliance Cooperative
Susan WittSchumacher Center for a New Economics
Richard D. WolffThe New School University, New York
George M. WoodwellWoods Hole Research Center
L. Randall WrayUniversity of Missouri-Kansas City
Erik Olin WrightUniversity of Wisconsin, Madison
Emily WurthFood and Water Watch
Daphne WyshamInstitute for Policy Studies
Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar Brown University
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Deidre ZollUniversity of Vermont
Solomon Pesach
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Anthony HigginsRetired
Marguerite Hernandez-Ron
Kerry Noh
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Colin Gordon
Marian Arledge
Michael Calhoun
Soo Borson
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The Next System Project is an ambitious multi-year initiative aimed at thinking boldly about what is required to deal with the systemic challenges the United States faces now and in coming decades. Responding to real hunger for a new way forward, and building on innovative thinking and practical experience with new economic institutions and approaches being developed in communities across the country and around the world, the goal is to put the central idea of system change, and that there can be a “next system,” on the map.


Gar Alperovitz

Co-Chair of the Next System Project, former Lionel R. Bauman Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He also serves as a founding board member of the New Economy Coalition.

Gus Speth

Co-Chair of the Next System Project, board member of the New Economy Coalition, Distinguished Senior Fellow at Demos, and Associate Fellow at the Tellus Institute. He served as Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies from 1999 to 2009.