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Wesley Marshall, Norman Garrick and Stephen Marshall

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Joshua Farley, John Gowdy and Stephen Marshall

In the nineteenth century, society underwent a Great Transformation from a pre-modern system to our current fossil-fueled, growth-oriented, market system. The ecological and social costs of this transformation pose an existential threat to human civilization, and result from prisoner’s dilemmas in which competitive self-interest undermines social well-being. We call for a research and action agenda into the intentional cultural changes that will be required to achieve a second Great Transformation to an ecologically sustainable and socially just economy powered by alternative energy. Four elements of this agenda include the factors that determine whether individual or collective action is best suited for solving a particular problem; the nature of the ecological-economy as a co-evolutionary system, the evolution of cooperation through multi-level selection; and the role of norms and institutions in promoting or undermining the cooperation and collective action required to address prisoner’s dilemmas.