About the Institute for Cultural Evolution

About the Institute: Overview

The Institute for Cultural Evolution is a nonprofit think tank based in Boulder, Colorado. Our mission is to advance the evolution of consciousness and culture in America. Our work focuses on overcoming the hyper-partisan polarization that threatens American democracy.

Toward this end, we’re advancing a new approach to politics—a synthetic political position that includes the best and rejects the worst of all sides. We advocate a developmental political perspective, which offers a way forward beyond the culture war. This developmental perspective demonstrates how hyper-polarization is the result of cultural growth, and how it can thus be overcome through further cultural growth. The inclusive social development we’re working for accordingly represents a new kind of cultural and political higher ground. 

Founded in 2013 as a 501c3 nonprofit organization, the Institute’s political position is neither left, nor right, nor centrist. We don’t undertake lobbying efforts or back political candidates, and we’re not associated with any political party. By remaining politically independent, the Institute is able to synthesize and harmonize the values and positive goals of all sides. The strategies we use to widen perspectives and integrate politically opposed viewpoints are new and unique. Our methods are based on fresh insights into how worldviews form and how human culture evolves. 

Our principals and senior fellows write books, articles, and op-eds, and they produce podcasts and videos, all of which apply our developmental perspective to help America grow into a better version of itself. Our programs include an evolving platform of “win-win-win” issue positions; the publication of The Developmentalist political magazine; public outreach and education around the practice of “cultural intelligence”; and social movement building through various membership associations.

We measure our success by the growing visibility and influence of our developmental perspective. We chart our progress by tracking annual national polls that estimate trends in the overall political polarization of the American electorate. Our theory of change is that culture and consciousness coevolve when people expand the scope of what they can value.

The Institute for Cultural Evolution think tank is managed by Steve McIntosh (President and Cofounder), together with Josh Leonard (Executive Director). The Institute’s Board of Directors includes John Mackey (Whole Foods CEO), Jeff Salzman (Host of the Daily Evolver podcast), John Street (CEO of Pax8), Rand Stagen (CEO of Stagen Leadership Academy), Nate Lowery (CEO of LexTM3 LLC), John Mistler (Emmy-nominated composer and philanthropist), and Carter Phipps (Author and Cofounder of the Institute).

Below is an abridged version of our “pitch deck”—a slide show presentation for potential supporters. To receive the complete presentation deck, or for more information on how to support or work, please contact us at: info@culturalevolution.org.

Positive Comments from Noteworthy People:

“I think ‘Depolarizing the American Mind’ by McIntosh and Phipps is among the most insightful essays I’ve ever read about the causes of our Nation’s hyper-partisan polarization problem. It offers a new diagnosis of how we got here, and a new prescription for what to do now. McIntosh and Phipps show us how we can evolve into more constructive forms of disagreement a decade from now.”

Jonathan Haidt, NYU social psychologist and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion

“I found the ICE Austin Conclave on the future of the right to be a highly worthwhile investment of time and effort. Affirming the truism that two minds are better than one, the Conclave was revelatory in identifying themes for a new center-right fusionism in a carefully tended collegial setting, that I believe will help catalyze the innovation and reform we aspire to encounter in our political system.

Margaret Hoover, host of PBS’s Firing Line, gay rights activist, and author of American Individualism: How A New Generation of Conservatives Can Save the Republican Party

“I am generally skeptical of conferences and conclaves; there is a lot of talk and little more. But the Esalen Conclave was different: the combination of the setting, the format and the people made it much more worthwhile than any I can remember. … You are to be complimented for pulling this off, in what I really hope will be not just one Conclave but an ongoing process to help some ideas crystallize into action to reduce our political dysfunction.”

Norman Ornstein, eminent political scientists and Resident Scholar at American Enterprise Institute

“It was a most enjoyable and productive experience.  The participants constituted a much more diverse group than I normally encounter.  The clash of perspectives was stimulating without being in any way unpleasant.  Less a kumbaya moment than a serious engagement on matters of transcendent importance to our public life. I’ve been gratified to see new friendships made and connections established.”

Thomas Mann, eminent political scientists and Senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution

“For my money, Steve McIntosh and Carter Phipps are two of the most lucid, thoughtful, practical thinkers alive on the subject of cultural evolution, and integral thinking. I’ve been studying and writing in this arena for 25 years, and these two guys, and their books, have changed the way I look at the world. The Institute for Cultural Evolution is going to be a major force in addressing and finding new solutions to the key social issues that continue to divide us.”

Tony Schwartz, founder and CEO of the Energy Project consulting firm and bestselling author

“We applaud the groundbreaking work of the Institute for Cultural Evolution, which is taking an innovative, integral approach to solving key challenges of our time. Solving issues like climate change and political gridlock can only be achieved by a significant shift in cultural thinking, and that’s what ICE is all about. Their focus on linking cultural evolution and tangible, measurable goals is a new opening for the sustainable and just future we all seek.”

Lynne Twist, co-founder of The Pachamama Alliance, and founder of the Soul of Money Institute