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"Think globally, act locally" in Sofia, Bulgaria

The phrase Think Globally, Act Locally or Think Global, Act Local has been used in various contexts, including town planning, environment, and business.



"Think Globally, Act Locally" urges people to consider the health of the entire planet and to take action in their own communities and cities. Long before federal and state agencies began enforcing environmental laws, individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that depend on them. These efforts are referred to as grassroots efforts. They occur on a local level and are primarily run by volunteers and helpers.

Origin in Town Planning

The original phrase "Think Global, Act Local" has been attributed to Scots town planner and social activist Patrick Geddes.[1] Although the exact phrase does not appear in Geddes' 1915 book "Cities in Evolution," [2] the idea (as applied to city planning) is clearly evident: " 'Local character' is thus no mere accidental old-world quaintness, as its mimics think and say. It is attained only in course of adequate grasp and treatment of the whole environment, and in active sympathy with the essential and characteristic life of the place concerned." [3]


The first use of the phrase in an environmental context is disputed. Some say it was coined by David Brower[4], founder of Friends of the Earth, as a slogan for FOE[5] when it was founded in 1969[citation needed], although others attribute it to Rene Dubos[6] who originated it as an advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972[citation needed]. Canadian "futurist" Frank Feather also chaired a conference called "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" in 1979 and falsely claims the paternity of the expression.[7] Others suggested that this phrase is coined by French theologian Jacques Ellul.[citation needed] Other possible originators include Buckminster Fuller[citation needed], Hazel Henderson[citation needed], and American activist Saul Alinsky[citation needed].


The term was increasingly applied to initiatives in international education and was advanced by Stuart Grauer in his 1989 University of San Diego publication, Think Globally, Act Locally: A Delphi Study of Educational Leadership Through the Development of International Resources in the Local Community. In this publication it was attribed to Harlan Cleveland.[8]


The term is also used in business strategy, where multinational corporations are encouraged to build local roots. This is sometimes expressed by converging the words "global" and "local" into the single word "glocal," a term used by several companies (notably Sony Corporation and other major Japanese multinationals) in their advertising and branding strategies in the 1980s and 1990s.


The phrase is an in-joke among mathematicians, as it is often used in situations where the global structure of an object (e.g., a manifold, a Diophantine equation, or a group) can be inferred from the local structure. (See Hasse principle for a detailed description of one such example.)

See also


  1. ^ Barash, David (2002). Peace and Conflict. Sage Publications. pp. 547. ISBN 9780761925071. 
  2. ^ Geddes, Patrick (1915). Cities in Evolution. Williams. 
  3. ^ Geddes, Patrick (1915). Cities in Evolution. Williams. p. 397. 
  4. ^ David Brower (obituary), The Daily Telegraph, 8 November 2000
  5. ^ Christopher Reed: Obituary of David Ross Brower, The Guardian, 8 November 2000. Online copy at the John Muir Trust
  6. ^ The Yale Book of Quotations, as quoted in: Fred Shapiro, Quotes Uncovered: The Real McCoy and Acting Locally Freakonomics blog, March 11, 2010
  7. ^ Keyes, Ralph. The Quote Verifier. Simon & Schuster. New York, NY 2006. ISBN 9780312340049.
  8. ^ Grauer, Stuart. Think Globally, Act Locally: A Delphi Study of Educational Leadership Through the Development of International Resources in the Local Community. University of San Diego, San Diego 1989.
  • S, Walter (2004) "Think Global, Act Local", Luath Press Ltd., Edinburgh, ISBN 1-84282-079-6
  • "Think Globally Act Locally" ISBN 978-0-9822586-3-7


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