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Brief Biographical Details of Alan Fricker


It is with great sadness that we report Alan Fricker’s death of a heart attack September 11 while cycling home.

Alan was a catalyst of futures studies in New Zealand, helping organize numerous workshops on sustainable futures, the alternative APEC and other social forums. He was a scientist working to transform the nature of science and the future of the future. Always reflective, he prodded us on to think deeper on the future through his questioning and indeed his silence.

Alan’s articles are included here at  and at on a range of issues including biomimetics, factors underpinning genetic engineering and money and sustainability.

We honor him with a poem as well written by Joe Bell.

In Conversation

A caring community needs catalysts
- a master of the pregnant pause
      and measured tone
the trouser hitch and handkerchief -
Alan got us talking to each other
about the present and the possibilities
he stirred us up and inspired
with words like 'construct', 'paradox''
and 'paradigm'.

Who, who saw and heard, could ever forget
the Rowan Atkinson monologue
the place in the choir or his shared poems
and the wisdom of futures best seen
by taking a step back, the inspiration of thought
on affordable housing, biomimicry
and not creating the waste in the first place.

Treading the fine line edge between order
and chaos where interests and involvements
twitch senses of social justice, understanding
and nature; a sunset splashed across the Bay
a view from the hill; flight and call of oyster catcher

tui, bellbird, kereru and fancy.

We are all enriched by the potpourri
and a guiding light has shown us the way
- it is up to us to honour the memories.

Joe Bell "

In memory of Alan Fricker, inspirational sage.

Alan Fricker had a scientific and engineering background in primarily the mineral industry, and including academia and research in several parts of the world.  He had been based in Wellington, New Zealand, for the last 25 years.  Some 15 years ago he began a move that progressed through waste minimisation, cleaner production, industrial ecology, and thus to sustainability.  Since becoming an independent researcher 5 years ago he had convened the Sustainable Futures Trust which is effectively a network of people of diverse skills, concerned more with the root causes of our unsustainability (our attitudes and behaviours, and systemic dysfunction in our systems of social organisation) rather than with the symptoms (environmental degradation and social injustice).  

In the process he had discovered the emerging discipline of Futures Studies, which had provided the rigour and knowledge base to his search for meaning in the challenge and paradox of sustainability.  He had published several articles in Futures and the Journal of Futures Studies.  Through the Trust Alan organises meetings, seminars, and courses, particularly around visiting authors and futures researchers.  These had included Rick Slaughter, Richard Douthwaite, Sohail Inayatullah, Paul Wildman, and Hazel Henderson.  The Trust had also been active in interactive theatre as a medium to reach inside ourselves to find deeper meaning.  

Genetic engineering, particularly in agriculture, had become a very controversial issue in NZ.  The debate has been conducted at a very superficial level.  Alan has researched the issue from the deeper dimensions  The Trust had Interested Person Status before the Royal Commission of Inquiry on Genetic Modification.

  Alan’s publications include:

Biomimetic and genetically engineered futures, Tamkang University Celebration Conference, Taipei, November 2000, J Futures Studies, 2001, 5(3):1-15

Science, technology and generational justice, Conference on World Civilisations: Trends and Challenges, Institute for National Policy Research, Taipei, April 2000

“The conscious purpose of science is control of Nature; its unconscious effect is disruption and chaos”, Futures, (forthcoming special issue on Transformative Research Methods - quotation by cultural historian William Irwin Thompson)

The hunger for meaning, Futures, 2001, 33, 171-180 (based on presentation to Businesses for Social Responsibility Conference, Auckland, Sept 99)

Underpinning dimensions of genetic engineering in agriculture,  J Futures Studies, 2000, 4, 2, 77-91.

Giving money value, J Futures Studies, 2000, 5(Aug), 31-46 (based on critique of debt-based finance system for Money! from Madness to Meaning seminar, W’ton, March 99)

Economies of abundance, Futures, 1999, 31, 271-280

Social dilemmas in the discourse of sustainability,  J Futures Studies, 1999,  May, 3(2), 1-16

The ecological footprint of New Zealand as a step towards sustainability, Futures, 1998, 30, 6, 559-567

Measuring up to sustainability, Futures, 1998, 30, 4, 367-375

Technology that liberates, Futures, 1997, 29,7, 661-666

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