Duane Elgin (born 1943) is an American author, speaker, educator, consultant, and media activist.
Duane Elgin grew up near Wilder, Idaho. He attended the Sorbonne in Paris for one semester in 1963 and earned a Bachelor of Arts from the College of Idaho in 1966. He received a Master of Business Administration from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and a Master of Arts in economic history from the University of Pennsylvania in 1969.
In the early 1970s, Elgin was a senior staff member on a joint Presidential-Congressional Commission on Population Growth and the American Future. The commission's task was to look ahead from 1970 to 2000 and explore challenges of urbanization and population growth.
Elgin moved to California, where he worked as a senior social scientist with the "futures group" at the Stanford Research Institute (now SRI International) and co-authored studies of the long-range future. His report on Voluntary Simplicity, co-authored with Arnold Mitchell, was published by SRI in June 1976. The report was expanded and republished with a survey in CoEvolution Quarterly in 1977. More than a thousand pages were received in response to the survey. These first-hand accounts formed the basis for his book Voluntary Simplicity, which appeared in 1981. Elgin left SRI International in 1977.
During the 1980s, he co-founded two non-profit non-partisan organizations concerned with media accountability and citizen empowerment. The national one was called "Choosing Our Future" and the San Francisco Bay Area organization was called "Bay Voice". Their mission was to give citizens a greater voice in their community by using the public airwaves for interactive "electronic town meetings". Elgin continues to promote citizen use of mass media for dialogue about the future. In 2012, Elgin and a small team launched Great Transition Stories, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping people understand ongoing societal transitions.
Over the past thirty years, Duane Elgin has co-founded two non-profit organizations dedicated to the promotion of media accountability. In 1981, he co-founded "Choosing Our Future" (COF), a national organization with members in 26 states. COF objected to the renewal of licenses of all the major broadcast TV stations in the San Francisco Bay Area on the grounds they were not serving the communication needs of citizens. After the FCC sided with broadcasters and renewed their licenses, Choosing Our Future then created an inclusive "community voice" organization called "Bay Voice".
In 1987, these organizations put an interactive Electronic Town Meeting (ETM) on the air in the Bay Area during prime-time, working with the local ABC television station. The "ETM" was seen by over 300,000 people and six votes were taken from a pre-selected, random sample of Bay Area citizens. Elgin has written extensively on themes of media and democracy since the 1980s.
In 1999, a group of roughly 30 'evolutionary leaders' met with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala, India over a period of five days to explore "Synthesis Dialogues" and themes of the new paradigm and building a sustainable and a spiritual future for humanity. In 2001 Elgin was awarded an honorary PhD for work in "ecological and spiritual transformation" from the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in San Francisco. He is also a member of the CIIS "Council of Sages". In 2006 Elgin received the annual Goi International Peace Award in Japan in recognition of his contribution to a global "vision, consciousness, and lifestyle" that fosters a "more sustainable and spiritual culture".
Elgin has been a visiting scholar at Denison University in Ohio in May, 2004 (for a 5-day workshop on theme of “Simplicity and Envisioning a Positive Future”). He has also been a 'distinguished scholar' at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida in 2012 where he spoke to both public and student audiences about our time of "great transition". Duane Elgin was described in April 2009 by the Ecologist Magazine as one of the ten leading visionaries with "big ideas for a better world".