Think Globally, Act Locally
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 governments began enforcing environmental laws, individuals were coming together to protect habitats and the organisms that live within 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
Patrick Geddes
Sir Patrick Geddes was a Scottish biologist, sociologist, philanthropist and pioneering town planner. He is known for his innovative thinking in the fields of urban planning and education....

Although the exact phrase does not appear in Geddes' 1915 book "Cities in Evolution," 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."


The first use of the phrase in an environmental context is disputed. Some say it was coined by David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth
Friends of the Earth International is an international network of environmental organizations in 76 countries.FOEI is assisted by a small secretariat which provides support for the network and its agreed major campaigns...

, as a slogan for FOE when it was founded in 1969, although others attribute it to Rene Dubos
René Dubos
René Jules Dubos was a French-born American microbiologist, experimental pathologist, environmentalist, humanist, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction for his book So Human An Animal. He is credited as an author of a maxim "Think globally, act locally"...

 who originated it as an advisor to the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. Canadian "futurist" Frank Feather also chaired a conference called "Thinking Globally, Acting Locally" in 1979 and has claimed the paternity of the expression. Others suggested that this phrase is coined by French theologian Jacques Ellul
Jacques Ellul
Jacques Ellul was a French philosopher, law professor, sociologist, lay theologian, and Christian anarchist. He wrote several books about the "technological society" and the interaction between Christianity and politics....

. Other possible originators include Buckminster Fuller
Buckminster Fuller
Richard Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was an American systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, futurist and second president of Mensa International, the high IQ society....

, Hazel Henderson
Hazel Henderson
Hazel Henderson is a futurist and an economic iconoclast. In recent years she has worked in television, and she is the author of several books including Building A Win-Win World, Beyond Globalization, Planetary Citizenship , and Ethical Markets: Growing the Green Economy.- Career :Henderson is now...

, and American activist Saul Alinsky
Saul Alinsky
Saul David Alinsky was a Jewish American community organizer and writer. He is generally considered to be the founder of modern community organizing, and has been compared in Playboy magazine to Thomas Paine as being "one of the great American leaders of the nonsocialist left." He is often noted...

Others suggested that this phrase is coined by American sociologist Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy
Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy was a historian and social philosopher, whose work spanned the disciplines of history, theology, sociology, linguistics and beyond...

in the 1960's or earlier, or by artist Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono
is a Japanese artist, musician, author and peace activist, known for her work in avant-garde art, music and filmmaking as well as her marriage to John Lennon...

. Ono did say the phrase in a 1981 interview but did not claim to have invented the phrase or the concept.

Pauly Shore
Pauly Shore
Paul Montgomery "Pauly" Shore is an American comedian and actor who starred in several comedy films in the 1990s and hosted a video show on MTV in the late 1980s and early 1990s...

 uses the term in the spoof film Bio-Dome
Bio-Dome is a 1996 American comedy film directed by Jason Bloom. Bio-Dome was produced by Motion Picture Corporation of America on a budget of $15 million and was distributed theatrically by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer....



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
Harlan Cleveland
Harlan Cleveland was an American diplomat, educator, and author. He served as Lyndon Johnson's U.S. Ambassador to NATO, 1965–1969, and earlier as U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs, 1961-1965...



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
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

 Corporation and other major Japanese multinationals) in their advertising and branding strategies in the 1980s and 1990s.


The phrase is an in-joke among mathematician
A mathematician is a person whose primary area of study is the field of mathematics. Mathematicians are concerned with quantity, structure, space, and change....

s, as it is often used in situations where the global structure
Mathematical structure
In mathematics, a structure on a set, or more generally a type, consists of additional mathematical objects that in some manner attach to the set, making it easier to visualize or work with, or endowing the collection with meaning or significance....

 of an object (e.g., a manifold
In mathematics , a manifold is a topological space that on a small enough scale resembles the Euclidean space of a specific dimension, called the dimension of the manifold....

, a Diophantine equation
Diophantine equation
In mathematics, a Diophantine equation is an indeterminate polynomial equation that allows the variables to be integers only. Diophantine problems have fewer equations than unknown variables and involve finding integers that work correctly for all equations...

, or a group
Group (mathematics)
In mathematics, a group is an algebraic structure consisting of a set together with an operation that combines any two of its elements to form a third element. To qualify as a group, the set and the operation must satisfy a few conditions called group axioms, namely closure, associativity, identity...

) can be inferred from the local
Local property
In mathematics, a phenomenon is sometimes said to occur locally if, roughly speaking, it occurs on sufficiently small or arbitrarily small neighborhoods of points.-Properties of a single space:...

 structure. (See Hasse principle
Hasse principle
In mathematics, Helmut Hasse's local-global principle, also known as the Hasse principle, is the idea that one can find an integer solution to an equation by using the Chinese remainder theorem to piece together solutions modulo powers of each different prime number...

for a detailed description of one such example.)
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