Transformational Ecology

Our Initiative on Transformational Ecology (ITE) examines how our states of mind and patterns of thought and behavior impact the environment.  ITE applies insights from current research in many disciplines, and draws on contemplative-based approaches to develop people-centered strategies for shifting behaviors and their impacts.  Currently, the principle activity of ITE is the Climate, Mind and Behavior (CMB) program.

Climate, Mind and Behavior Program

The Garrison Institute’s Climate, Mind and Behavior (CMB) Program examines how mental models and patterns of thought affect our environmental behavior and how, by examining and shifting them, we might reduce our ecological impacts. CMB's integrative approach combines new insights from current scientific research in many disciplines to develop practical solutions to the world's pressing environmental issues. CMB brings together advocates, scientists, thought-, movement- and business leaders, policy and communications experts to create new learning networks, nurture innovative thinking, and find scalable ways to shift mindsets, alter behavior, achieve systems-level change to reduce  human-caused ecological problems, including climate change. CMB symposiums bring together stimulating mixes of key leaders, and uses reflective and contemplative practices to generate fresh and innovative thinking.

Climate, Mind and Behavior Symposium

The Climate, Mind and Behavior (CMB) Symposium integrates emerging research findings about what drives human behavior into new thinking on climate solutions. CMB convenes leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of climate change and environmental advocacy, neuro-, behavioral and evolutionary economics, psychology, policy-making, social networking, investing and social media, working together on ways to shift behavior on a large enough scale to realize substantial emissions reductions. The fourth CMB symposium was held at the Institute in June 2013.

Climate, Cities and Behavior

Cities are increasingly on the front lines in the fight against climate change. Starting in 2007, for the first time in history, more people now live in urban than rural areas. Their number is expected to rise to 5 billion by 2030. Increasing attention is focusing on cities as centers of innovation, motivation, aggregation and leadership in reducing GHG emissions. While global treaties and federal legislation on greenhouse gases have been met with resistance, urban leaders have often succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emissions using innovative policy, regulatory and urban planning strategies. The newest project of CMB, Climate, Cities and Behavior (CCB) takes what the neuro-, behavioral and social sciences are learning about human behavior and applies it to urban planning, policy, codes and other regulations in order to shift urban resident and employee behavior and facilitate larger pro-climate impacts. The second CCB symposium was held at the Institute in March 2013. 

Peter Senge on Systems Thinking and The Gap Between Aspirations and Performance


Peter Senge offers a distillation of his insights into the most important factors in achieving meaningful change for the environment or in any sphere of life. Watch the video

CMB 2013 Highlights:

Climate, Buildings and Behavior

Buildings are responsible for 42% of US greenhouse gas emissions. In 2009, the Garrison Institute held its first gathering of real estate leaders from large and small non-profit and for-profit companies. The goal of the event was to help participants transform how their organizations function, moving away from business as usual and towards a green paradigm. Currently, the Climate, Buildings and Behavior network is actively working on pilot projects and convened for a fifth gathering at the Institute in September 2013.











Climate, Mind and Behavior Events

Climate, Mind and Behavior Leadership


John McIlwain

Climate, Mind and Behavior Leadership Council:

Dina Biscotti, UC Davis
Uwe Brandes, Urban Land Institute
Marilyn Cornelius, Stanford University
Jeff Domanski, Princeton University
Becky Ford, University of Otago, New Zealand
Ruth Greenspan-Bell, Woodrow Wilson Intl Center for Scholars
Lauren Kubiak, Natural Resources Defense Council
Skip Laitner, ACEEE
Nils Moe, Urban Sustainability Directors Network
Phil Payne, Gingko Residential
Roger Platt, USGBC
Jonathan Rose, Garrison Institute Board Member
Kurt Roth, Fraunhofer Institute
Jonathan Rowson, RSA
Rachael Shwom, Rutgers University
Jennifer Tabanico, Action Research
Jason Twill, Lend Lease (Australia)

For more information on Climate, Mind and Behavior and Climate, Buildings and Behavior, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.