Mike Nickerson

Co-founder of the Institute for the Study of Cultural Evolution
Ontario, Canada
Mike Nickerson is an independent student, writer and lecturer who has been fascinated by social change since he co-founded the Institute for the Study of Cultural Evolution in the early 1970s.

The group conducted a study of voluntary and non-profit initiatives, which they came to see as the natural immune system of society.  Wherever problems arise, people notice and initiate efforts to solve them.  Four years of inquiry, which at one point included 20 young people in Ottawa, found a common denominator which was named Guideposts for a Sustainable Future.  

 To provide context for this outline of problems and solutions, Mike published:

- Change the World I Want to Stay On (1977, All About Use Press)

 The essence was produced into a video/discussion kit in 1990: Guideposts for a Sustainable Future  < https://youtu.be/Z-i1kt53mXQ >  

The accompanying text:

- Planning for Seven Generations was published in a second, stand-alone edition:  (1993, Voyageur Publishing)

 With each publication, Mike toured to introduce the sustainability issue and to gather people’s thoughts about the need for change and the directions in which we might proceed.

 In one discussion, after 1990, Mike was introduced to problems resulting from an economic system based on—indeed addicted to—perpetual growth.  With planetary ecosystems already disrupted by human activity, how can we possibly secure the future if we are dedicated to expansion?  After a decade studying economics and ecological economics, it became apparent that there are other ways to organize societies.

 - Life, Money and Illusion; Living on Earth as if We Want to Stay was published, (2006, 7th Generation Publishing) adding the economic perspective to the social and environmental issues of the earlier publications.  A second edition of Life, Money and Illusion came out in 2009 (New Society Publishers)  It is now also available in French as: La Vie, L'argent et L’illusion; Vivre sur Terre comme si on voulait y rester.

 Most recently, his work aims to help envision a post-growth world.  Growing is for children.  The human family has come of age and is called to pioneer a mature form, focussing on improving the quality of life for everyone, while reducing our material demands (and the resulting pollution).  

 Because learning, love and laughter, appreciation, service, sport, music and other creative activities are basically uplifting, they can be referred to as ‘fun’ enabling the fundamental change to be expressed as More Fun, Less Stuff.

 Details about this shift of priorities and numerous other articles are posted at:  www.sustainwellbeing.net  


Over the years, Mike has been a part of:

- Leeds and Grenville Waste Management Master Plan,

- National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy,

- Board of the Ontario Environment Network,

- The Governing Council of the Green Party of Canada, and

- The World Federalist Foundation board.


An enthusiastic gardener, he supports his study and writing habit by building custom furniture.