Remembering Barbara Marx Hubbard

  • Sharebar
Volume 5,
Number 4
April 14, 2019

In Memoriam: Barbara Marx Hubbard

Futurist Barbara Marx Hubbard, a founding board member of the World Future Society and founder and co-chair of the Foundation for Conscious Evolution, died April 10, 2019. She was 89.

Foundation co-chair Marc Gafini first reported the news on Hubbard’s Facebook page, describing her as “the greatest Evolutionary Story Teller of our time.” Hubbard “dreamed of social synergy, of the Peace Room, the Office for the Future. … [She] incarnated a vice presidential bid, a historic speech at the Democratic national convention, the great Foundation for Conscious Evolution, all of these were the vehicles [she] audaciously manifested for the impulse.” [Read more]

Barbara Marx Hubbard was born December 22, 1929, in New York City. As WFS founder Edward Cornish has noted, she was “a child of privilege. She was the daughter of Louis Marx, America’s largest toy manufacturer. Every child in mid-twentieth-century America played with Marx toys, so Barbara grew up in a real-life toyland. But for Barbara it was not enough, so she began what she calls ‘an evolutionary journey’—a lifelong search for a positive future not just for herself but for all humankind.”

She studied history at L’École des Sciences Politiques, philosophy at La Sorbonne, and political science at Bryn Mawr. Cornish continues: “In Paris, she had met an American artist, Earl Hubbard, and together they developed visions of man’s vast future in the universe.

“I found Barbara to be utterly dazzling,” Cornish says. “She was beautiful, brilliant, charming, and energetic. She also seemed to know everyone who had ever done anything interesting, from President Eisenhower to Jonas Salk, the discoverer of the polio vaccine.

“When Barbara joined the [World Future] Society, she also ordered a gift membership for Abraham Maslow, the psychologist who developed a theory of how human values evolve based on people’s psychological needs. Barbara enthusiastically supported the Society and made two handsome donations.”

Hubbard also generously contributed her ideas, including articles for The Futurist such as “Emerging Institutions of Space-Age Mankind” (February 1968), “Humanistic Psychology and the New Questions” (April 1968), and “From Meaninglessness to New Worlds” (April 1971). As a futurist, Hubbard promoted a “transcendent perspective” that “envisioned humans evolving into beings approaching the sublimity of the universe in the years ahead,” Cornish says.

During the World Future Society’s 1975 conference, Hubbard introduced a dynamic form of interaction dubbed Syncon, a “conference within a conference” that she ran with colleagues John Whiteside and Jerome C. Glenn. A Syncon, Cornish explains, “was a unique method of conferencing that was designed for participants to gradually work toward a ‘synergistic convergence’ of their thinking.”

As news of Hubbard’s passing spread, her colleagues, friends, and admirers paid tribute. Glenn shared his thoughts through The Millennium Project’s network:

“For those who knew her, no words are adequate to convey the contributions she has made from the late 1960s non-stop to the day she died to counter narrow, short-term, selfish, boring views of the future.

“Before Barbara, think tanks did not include ‘the public.’ Her Committee for the Future and its Syncons were unique, highly intense educational environments about the complex future and what we, as individuals and as a people, can and should do to make the future work for all. … She should be remembered for giving the big picture of the human destiny to be born beyond the earth womb into evolved beings growing beyond the solar system, for synergistic explorations different among different orientations, for the deep history/future view of co-creation, and for the positive spirit of Yes We Can!”

And AAI Foresight managing principal Timothy Mack, who led WFS from 2004 to 2014, recalled, “Over the 40+ years I knew her, Barbara Marx Hubbard never failed to amaze with her commitment and her ability to bring together wide-ranging individuals to address critical international issues. It was impossible to resist her charm and her passion, and she was clearly one of a kind.”


“The Search for Foresight: The World Future Society’s Emergence from Dream to Reality” by Edward Cornish. The Futurist, March-April 2007, p. 43.

Selected Books by Barbara Marx Hubbard

Conscious Evolution: Awakening the Power of Our Social Potential (New World Library, 1998).
The Emergence: The Shift from Ego to Essence (Hampton Roads, 2001).
The Evolutionary Journey: Your Guide to a Positive Future (Evolutionary Press, 1982).
Hunger of Eve: One Woman’s Odyssey toward the Future (Sweet Forever, 1989).
Revelation: Our Crisis Is a Birth (Foundation for Conscious Evolution, 1993).

Futurist Wanted, Kazakhstan

The Narxoz Business School in Almaty, Kazakhstan, seeks qualified applicants for the position of Assistant Professor of Futures and Foresight. The incumbent will also form an integral part of senior leadership at the Qazaq Research Institute for Futures Studies (QRIFS).

“Our ideal candidate brings a range of experiences and capabilities with an emphasis on both research and practice,” says QRIFS director John A. Sweeney. “We are looking for a curious and dynamic scholar/practitioner/designer with expertise and training not only in foundational theories and methods (scenarios, [causal layered analysis], backcasting, etc.) but also a clear capacity and aptitude in ‘indisciplinary’ practices and approaches.”

Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with preference given to those received before May 15, 2019. “While we envision this position starting in September 2019, an earlier start is certainly plausible, possible, and preferable,” Sweeney says. [Learn more]

Resource: Technology and Next-Gen Women (White Paper)

Market research firm Frost & Sullivan offers a free white paper, 5 Ways Technology Will Change the Lives of the Next Generation of Women by Lauren Taylor, principal consultant for F&S’s Visionary Innovation Group.

“Humanity is entering the rise of technology-driven evolution at an unprecedented speed,” the firm says. “Companies today are strategizing about future investments and technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things, or growth around new business models. While many of these trends will make for substantial investments for the next five to ten years, few companies are considering the revolutionary convergence of different trends pulled from technology, behavioral and societal changes, and medical advances to understand how they will transform society.”

The paper covers advances in hardware and biological augmentation that will enhance female physical capabilities, gamification and behavior science that will increase female productivity, and female values and viewpoints that will influence society and corporate culture. [Learn more]

Upcoming Event: Defending Earth

The sixth International Academy of Astronautics Planetary Defense Conference will be held in College Park, Maryland, April 29–May 3. Co-sponsored by NASA and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, the conference will bring together experts from around the world to present the latest research on near-Earth objects—asteroids and comets that may pose an impact hazard to our planet.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is scheduled to deliver the conference’s opening keynote address on April 29. On Wednesday, May 1, the Planetary Society will host a free public event featuring NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green, Planetary Society CEO Bill Nye, and other leading planetary defense experts. Conference participants also will participate in an exercise simulating efforts to address a hypothetical scenario of an asteroid impacting Earth. [Learn more]