Portrait of Donella Meadows

Donella Meadows

Environmental Scientist
March 13, 1941 – February 20, 2001

Dr. Donella H. Meadows, a Pew Scholar in Conservation and Environment and a MacArthur Fellow, was one of the most influential environmental thinkers of the twentieth century. After receiving a Ph.D in biophysics from Harvard, she joined a team at MIT applying the relatively new tools of system dynamics to global problems. She became principal author of The Limits to Growth (1972), which sold more than 9 million copies in 26 languages. She went on to author or co-author eight other books.

In 1996, Donella founded the Sustainability Institute with the mission of fostering transitions to sustainable systems at all levels of society, from local to global. The Institute adopted the name of its founder in 2011 and renewed its commitment to the organization’s original mission and to making Donella’s work easily and broadly accessible. She rigorously analyzed the systems that produce the complex problems facing humanity, and she described with humor and humility what needed to be done to create healthy functional alternatives.

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