Our Blog Theme for 2024: Syntropy

Tara C. Trapani


Well we've laid 2023 to rest and are ready to move bravely and gently forward into a new phase. We won't leave Hope behind–it will sit with us as we move through the joys and challenges of the months to come. But for this new year, we're going to shift gears here on the Forum blog and bring you a new theme and focus for our exploration. The theme for 2024 is Syntropy (or Syntrophy*). 

The term was coined by Buckminster Fuller, and his understanding of it was based on the thought and work of scientists and mathematicians in the 1940s. Though the term has some very specific scientific uses, it can also be seen in the broader sense of divergent pieces coming together in harmony and organization within a system, where the harmony comes from each element of the system being of service in some way to another element–a sort of systemic paying it forward that keeps all in balance. The Buckminster Fuller Institute frames it as when life “self-organize[s] in a way that supports diversity, complexity, and transformation.” Buckminster Fuller's student and biographer, J. Baldwin, went so far as to say that “Our purpose and duty as humans is to be syntropic” (BuckyWorks, 228).

This evokes for me the rich and fertile concept of ecological civilization where the system—the civilization—needs to have a harmonious organizing principle that to some degree rests on interdependence and nourishing exchange. This idea–starting to take concrete shape in China–is becoming more and more a focus of our work at the Forum. Mary Evelyn Tucker and John Grim have been able to experience the fruits of this approach to life firsthand on their recent trips to China and were deeply struck by the positive effect it is having on all levels. It seems to me the living manifestation of the syntropic principle. 

In the coming year, we'll be looking at syntropy through some more specific lenses, such as syntropic agriculture and agroforestry, as well as embracing and investigating the broader, overarching principle and cosmology of a syntropic perspective on all life and beyond. We invite you to join us on this journey, as we explore this rich concept. 



*Some sources conflate the two spellings and use them interchangeably, while others use syntrophy for the more focused scientific usage (largely in microbiology) and syntropy for the broader principle. For the purpose of this blog, we will be using these spellings interchangeably. In mathematical circles, the term negentropy is common to describe this principle.