About Us: Overview

The Institute for Cultural Evolution is a nonprofit 501c3 think tank based in Boulder, Colorado. Our mission is to advance the evolution of consciousness and culture in America. Our main focus as a think tank is the amelioration of hyper-partisan polarization.

In furtherance of our mission, corresponding with the 2020 publication of our co-founder’s book, Developmental Politics, the Institute is working to help establish a post-progressive political perspective. This emerging perspective seeks to integrate positive values from across the political spectrum to create effective new forms of agreement.

The Institute for Cultural Evolution is managed by its President, Steve McIntosh, and its Executive Director, Josh Leonard. The think tank’s board of directors includes Whole Foods CEO John Mackey, Daily Evolver podcast host Jeff Salzman, serial tech entrepreneur John Street, author and co-founder Carter Phipps, energy tech CEO Nate Lowery, and musician and philanthropist John Mistler.

Founded in 2013, the Institute for Cultural Evolution’s political position is neither left, nor right, nor centrist. We do not undertake lobbying efforts or back political candidates, and we are not associated with any political party. By remaining politically independent, the Institute is able to synthesize and harmonize the values and positive goals of both the left and the right. The strategies we use to widen perspectives and integrate politically opposed viewpoints are new and unique. They are based on fresh insights into how worldviews form and how human culture evolves. By clarifying the cultural roots of hyperpolarization, our analysis provides innovative solutions to this “wicked problem.”

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