Fritjof Capra

Hero of Sustainability

Fritjof Capra, Ph.D., is a scientist, educator, activist, and author of many international bestsellers. A physicist and systems theorist, Capra first became popularly known for his book, The Tao of Physics, published in 1975, and which explored the ways that modern physics was changing our worldview from a mechanistic to a holistic and ecological one.

As Fritjof wrote in The Systems View of Life:

Instead of being a machine, nature at large turns out to be more like human nature – unpredictable, sensitive to the surrounding world, and influenced by small fluctuations.

Over the past 30 years, Fritjof Capra has been engaged in a systematic exploration of how other sciences and society-at-large are bringing a shift in worldview, leading to a new vision of reality and a new understanding of the impacts that human systems have on ecological systems.

His most recent book, The Systems View of Life (Cambridge University Press, 2014), presents a grand new synthesis of this work—integrating the biological, cognitive, social, and ecological dimensions of life into one unified vision. Several critics have suggested that The Systems View of Life, which Capra coauthored with Pier Luigi Luisi, Professor of Biology at the University of Rome, is destined to become another classic.

Fritjof Capra was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1939 and has lived in the United States since the 1970s. Capra attended the University of Vienna, where he earned his PhD in theoretical physics in 1966. He conducted research in particle physics and systems theory at the University of Paris (1966–1968), the University of California, Santa Cruz (1968–1970), the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (1970), Imperial College, London (1971–1974) and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (1975–1988).

Capra is a founding director of the Berkeley-based Center for Ecoliteracy, which is dedicated to advancing ecology and systems thinking in primary and secondary education. He is a Fellow of Schumacher College, an international center for ecological studies in the UK, and serves on the Council of the Earth Charter Initiative.

He is the author of The Turning Point (1982), The Web of Life (1996), The Hidden Connections (2002), The Science of Leonardo (2007), and Learning from Leonardo (2013). He coauthored Green Politics (1984), Belonging to the Universe (1991), and EcoManagement (1993), and coedited Steering Business Toward Sustainability (1995). He also cowrote the screenplay for Mindwalk (1990), a film starring Liv Ullmann, Sam Waterston, and John Heard, created and directed by Bernt Capra.

As a Hero of Sustainability the main focus of Capra’s environmental education and activism has been to help build and nurture sustainable communities. He believes that to do so, we can learn valuable lessons from the study of ecosystems, which are sustainable communities of plants, animals, and microorganisms.

“We need to teach our children and students the fundamental facts of life – that one species’ waste is another species’ food; that matter cycles continually through the web of life; that the energy driving the ecological cycles flows from the sun; that diversity assures resilience; and that life, from its beginning more than three billion years ago, did not take over the planet by combat but by networking.” – Fritjof Capra