Local Evolutionary Cells as Vehicles for Evolutionary Advocacy & Activism

Evolutionary Systems Theory in Action


  • Matthew Shapiro Boisevolve


We live in a time of rapid change, tension between progressive and reactionary forces, and social and environmental challenges. We are still on the cusp of the older era of unconscious evolution that characterized most of human history and a new era of conscious (co)evolution. The transition between these eras began with the Industrial Revolution and has manifested in many progressive and emancipatory streams in society, but the transition is far from complete and may not be certain. Evolutionary Systems Theory, also known as General Evolution Theory (GET), helps to provide a context for this evolutionary shift, but alone does not provide a bridge between theory and action. Evolutionary Advocacy and Activism is proposed as an expression of evolutionary agency that is informed by GET, by advancements in social science, and by the experience in progressive change that has been gained over the past century. Evolutionary Advocacy and Activism is focused on building the capacities needed within communities to enable people to more consciously participate in the evolution of their culture and society, specifically toward forms more supportive of human development and a thrivable relationship with the natural environment.

Evolutionary Advocacy and Activism is distinguished from Evolutionary Scholarship, Evolutionary Witnessing, and Evolutionary Prophecy. Locally-based evolutionary cells are proposed as a specific vehicle for Evolutionary Advocacy and Activism. A specific example of an evolutionary cell, organized by the presenter, is described, and other possible examples of evolutionary cells are identified. Suggested priority focus areas of evolutionary capacity building are described. These include fostering the systems perspective, building the capacity for dialogue, participatory democracy, participatory design, vision and idealization, and transformational leadership, among other areas. Examples of activities and projects to address the priority areas are given. Prospects and recommendations for establishment of evolutionary cells on a broader scale are explored.

Individuals to be referenced for theoretical and practical underpinnings of the concept of evolutionary cells include Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Bela H. Banathy, Jonas Salk, Ervin Laszlo, Margaret Mead, Mary Parker Follett, and possibly others.