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Americans Who Tell the Truth :: David Korten

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Robert Shetterly's portrait of David Korten
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“… our economic crisis is, at its core, a moral crisis. Our economic institutions and rules, even the indicators by which we measure economic performance, consistently place financial values ahead of life values. They are brilliantly effective at making money for rich people. Our children, families, and communities, and natural systems of Earth have paid an intolerable price.”
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David Korten
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Economist, writer, publisher (1937- )

David Korten is a leading critic of corporate globalization and a visionary proponent of a planetary system of local living economies. His international best seller, When Corporations Rule the World (1995) helped frame the global resistance against corporate globalization. The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community (2006), illuminates the significance of this resistance by placing it in the historical context of 5,000 years of Empire and the organization of human relationships by dominator hierarchy. His latest book, Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth (2009, 2nd ed., 2010), offers bold economic proposals that address the underlying cause of the current economic collapse, not just its symptoms.

David was born in Longview, Washington in 1937; during his 25-year establishment career, he became increasingly discouraged that the values he learned as a child and believed to be conservative—family, community, peace, justice, and nature were ignored or suffered terrible tolls as a result of policies and directives of the very institutions he served.

David acquired a variety of establishment credentials, including MBA and Ph.D. degrees from the Stanford Business School, service as a captain in the US Air Force, and five years as a Harvard Business School professor, a Ford Foundation project specialist, and Asia regional adviser on development management to the U.S. Agency for International Development. Thirty years working as a development professional in Asia, Africa, and Latin America eventually opened his eyes to the devastating consequences of an economic system designed to make rich people richer without regard to the human and environmental consequences. He became a defector from the foreign aid establishment and joined the global resistance against flawed development models.

While many people refer to David as an economist, he is by training and inclination a student of psychology and behavioral systems. From the time he began his graduate studies at Stanford in 1959, he has been seeking to deepen his understanding of how cultures and institutional structures shape human behavior and to search for ways by which we humans can do a better job of supporting one another in achieving the higher order potentials of our nature.

While at Stanford, David met and married his life partner, Fran Korten. Their marriage gives potent testimony to the power of partnership as their careers developed in tandem, each making career choices that opened new opportunities for the other. Fran was a Ford Foundation program officer for 20 years in the Philippines, Indonesia, and New York and is now publisher/executive director of YES! magazine.

David is co-founder and board chair of the Positive Futures Network, which publishes YES! magazine,founder and president of the People-Centered Development Forum, and founding board member of the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. He is co-chair of the New Economy Working Group which aims to further frame the New Economy Agenda and build support for transformational change through grassroots and media outreach. He is also a founding associate of the International Forum on Globalization and a major contributor to its report on Alternatives to Economic Globalization.

David recently told a reporter, “The work that’s involved in creating a new economy and a new human civilization calls us to be our most creative and innovative, and it puts us in contact with the worlds most wonderful people. And it is a whole lot more fun and satisfying than allowing oneself to sink into the depths of despair and cynicism.”

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See the full set of Robert Shetterly's portraits at www.americanswhotellthetruth.org.

Tools for Teaching: see the acompanying curriculum materials with suggestions on how to use the portraits and biographies of these American truth-tellers in your classroom.
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Americans Who Tell the Truth ::

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This beautiful coffee-table book is an eloquent collection of portraits and stirring words of these brave citizens from all walks of life.
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