Don Edward Beck

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Don E. Beck
Don Beck
Beck in 2010
BornJanuary 1, 1937
DiedMay 24, 2022
Denton, Texas
Known forSpiral Dynamics Integral
Scientific career
FieldsSpiral Dynamics, Systems Thinking

Don Edward Beck (January 1, 1937 - May 24, 2022) was a teacher, geopolitical advisor, and theorist focusing on applications of large scale psychology, including social psychology, evolutionary psychology, organizational psychology and their effect on human sociocultural systems. He is the co-author of the Spiral Dynamics theory, an evolutionary human development model adapted from the work of his mentor and colleague, developmental psychologist Clare W. Graves, Professor Emeritus in Psychology at Union College in New York, with whom he worked for over a decade.

Education and academia[edit]

Beck received a B.A from Abilene Christian College in 1958 and his M.A in Theology and Communication from the same institution a year later in 1959.[1] He was awarded his Ph.D. in Communication and Social Psychology with a focus on large scale systems dynamics and change in 1966 by the University of Oklahoma. His dissertation was on the psychological forces that produced the American Civil War.[2]

Beck has held positions at institutions including various roles in the speech and drama department at North Texas State University (now the University of North Texas) from 1961 to 1981,[3][4] Adjunct Professor at Conoco Corporate University from 1998 to 1999, and Adjunct Instructor at Adizes Graduate School from 2000 to the end of his life.[5][6]

In 1974, while working as a professor at North Texas State, Beck encountered an article[7] by Graves in The Futurist. He contacted Graves, and at the latter's invitation and flew to New York to meet him in 1975. After two days of dialogues, Beck decided to record Graves' knowledge, as the latter's health was deteriorating.[4] Beck and Graves were later joined by North Texas State faculty member Christopher Cowan. Both Beck and Cowan left North Texas State in 1981 to work with Graves full-time, which they continued to do until Graves's death in 1986.[8][9]

Spiral Dynamics[edit]

Beck and Cowan further developed Graves's emergent cyclical theory and presented a structured evolutionary model of adaptive intelligence called Spiral Dynamics. They first published their construct in Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change (Exploring the New Science of Memetics) (1996).[10] Through these value systems, groups and cultures structure their societies and individuals integrate within them. Each distinct set of values is developed as a response to solving the problems of the previous system. Changes between states may occur incrementally (first order change) or in a sudden breakthrough (second order change).[11]

Beck and Cowan founded the National Values Center (NVC) in Denton, Texas in 1979[12]

Spiral Dynamics (SD) and Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi)[edit]

Cowan filed to register "Spiral Dynamics" as a service mark in 1998, while Beck wanted to keep the name open for academic use.[13] The two parted ways in 1999, with Beck continuing to use the Spiral Dynamics name for the next couple of years.[14]

Beck had been drawn to the work of Integral theorist Ken Wilber,[14] whose book A Theory of Everything (2000) incorporated Beck and Cowan's Spiral Dynamics as a "core element" alongside Wilber's AQAL framework.[15]

By 2001, Beck began equating NVC with his new Spiral Dynamics Group, which featured early mentions of Spiral Dynamics Integral.[16] In the last weeks of 2001, Beck announced Spiral Dynamics Integral (SDi). In the announcement, he credited Wilber with significantly increasing the level of interest in Spiral Dynamics, and also cited the influence of John Petersen of the Arlington Institute and Ichak Adizes.[17]

By 2005, Beck's working relationship with Wilber had also disintegrated as Beck felt that Wilber had distorted the Spiral Dynamics/Gravesian model. Wilber subsequently de-emphasized SDi, and recolored its levels to fit his spiritual emphasis.[18]

Center for Human Emergence[edit]

The Center for Human Emergence is a think tank founded in 2004 that emphasizes the scientific understanding of cultures and their evolutionary context.[19]

Beck, in close collaboration with Teddy Hebo Larsen, established the first center for Human Emergence in Copenhagen, Denmark, in May, 2004.[20]

Beck made a number of trips to the Netherlands, starting with work for the Dutch telecom company KPN in the 1990s, including consulting to the Dutch Police force (2004)[21] and leading to the establishment by Peter Merry of the second Center for Human Emergence in the Netherlands in 2005.[22] He continued to support the Dutch Center for Human Emergence, including in the setting up of the Hague Center.[23]

In 2005, Beck, Elza Maalouf, and Said E. Dawlabani created The Center for Human Emergence Middle East (CHE-ME), a non-profit think tank through which his engagement in the region was sponsored.[24] Beck and Maalouf held meetings and trainings hosted in Israel, speaking to the Arab Governor of Bethlehem, Salah Al Taamari; three members of the Palestinian Legislative Council and presenting to 40 city council members, government employees, and professors from Bethlehem University.[25]

As senior adviser to The Center for Human Emergence Middle East, Beck and the center's CEO Elza Maalouf founded the Build Palestine Initiative,[26] focused on the value systems alignment for a two state solution.

Beck and Maalouf presented to the Values Caucus at the United Nations on June 21, 2007, regarding approaches to global governance[27]

Consulting career[edit]

Beck made more than 36 trips to South Africa between 1981 and 1988.[28] On May 3, 1995, both houses of the Texas State Legislature (Beck's home state) adopted a resolution (S.R. No. 901) presented by the President of the Texas Senate which commends Beck "for his invaluable contributions toward the peaceful creation of a democratic South Africa."[29]

Beck has worked with the Denton Police Department, the Texas Department of Human Services, and the cities of Plano, Grapevine, and Colleyville.[30] He has also consulted for companies including Southwest Airlines and Whole Foods.[31] He worked with the Dallas Cowboys[32] and the South African Springboks rugby team.[33] He also wrote a "Sports Values" column in The Dallas Morning News in 1997–98.[34]

Additional books, audio, video, publications[edit]

  • Spiral Dynamics in Action: Humanity's Master Code. By Don Edward Beck et al. Wiley, 2018. ISBN 1119387183
  • Spiral Dynamics: Mastering Values, Leadership, and Change, by Don Beck and Christopher Cowan, 1996, 2005, Wiley/Blackwell, ISBN 1-4051-3356-2
  • The Crucible: Forging South Africa's Future, by Don Beck and Graham Linscott, 1991, New Paradigm Press, ISBN 0-620-16241-4
  • The Master Code and Integral Politics in Polarized America, by Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, March 2013[35]
  • Don Beck: In Quest of the Master Code, at the Inside Edge Foundation, February, 2012, video[36]
  • Don Beck: Spiral Dynamics Integral. Sounds True, Boulder, 2006
  • Don Beck at the Transformational Leadership Symposium, November 20–21, 2009, video[37]
  • Changing the World and Work, ABC National Radio (interview transcript) with Dr. Rachel Kohn[38]
  • Conversations with Great Thinkers and Practitioners of Our Times: Dr. Don Beck: Spiral Dynamics: A Challenge To Leadership, produced by Clearfire Media (DVD), 2006, ASIN: B000GGS0VE
  • Leap into the Future: Leadership for the 21st Century, with Andrew Cohen and Don Beck, produced by EnlightenNext (DVD), 2004, ASIN: B000O7SX12


  1. ^ Beck, Don Edward (1959). A History of Speech Education at Abilene Christian College, 1906- 1958 (MA). Abilene, TX: Abilene Christian College. OCLC 27407980.
  2. ^ Beck, Don Edward (1966). The Rhetoric of Conflict and Compromise : A Study in Civil War Causation (PhD). Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma. OCLC 3401047.
  3. ^ Sandel, Mildred J. (1971). A History of the Speech and Drama Department at North Texas State University as it Relates to General Trends in Speech Education, 1890-1971 (MS). Denton, TX: North Texas State University. pp. 115, 119, 131–132, 146.
  4. ^ a b Krumm, Rainer; Parstorfer, Benedikt (10 Oct 2014). Clare W. Graves, Sein Leben sein Werk (in German). Werdewelt Verlag. ISBN 978-3981531886.
  5. ^ Adizes Graduate School commemorates Beck's 70th birthday "Happy 70th Birthday, Don! A memoir via Adizes Graduate School, with love, from the Adizes network" (PDF). Adizes Graduate School. January 31, 2007. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 12, 2013.
  6. ^ "Faculty". Adizes Graduate School. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  7. ^ Graves, Clare W. (April 1974). Cornish, Edward (ed.). "Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap". The Futurist. pp. 72–87. Retrieved 5 Aug 2020.
  8. ^ Bozesan, Mariana (10 Oct 2020). Integral Investing: From Profit to Prosperity. Springer, Cham. p. 121. doi:10.1007/978-3-030-54016-6. ISBN 978-3-030-54015-9. S2CID 226553363.
  9. ^ Cowan, Chris. "About NVC Consulting". Spiral Dynamics. Retrieved 17 Aug 2020.
  10. ^ Beck and Cowan (1996)
  11. ^ Cook, John Edward (Oct 2008). The Role of the Individual in Organisational Cultures: a Gravesian Integrated Approach (PhD). Sheffield Hallam University. pp. 46–47. Retrieved 20 Aug 2020.
  12. ^ "National Values Center, Inc". OpenCorporates. Retrieved 24 August 2020.
  13. ^ U.S. Service Mark 75,477,781
  14. ^ a b Butters (2015), p. 71
  15. ^ MacDonald, Copthorne. "Review Of: A Theory of Everything". Integralis: Journal of Integral Consciousness, Culture, and Science. 1. Retrieved 12 Aug 2020.
  16. ^ "Spiral Dynamics Group". 2001. Archived from the original on May 17, 2001.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
  17. ^ Beck, Don (2001). "Spiral Dynamics in the Integral Age". Integral World. Retrieved 2 Aug 2020.
  18. ^ Butters (2015), pp. 69, 71-73
  19. ^ "Home". Center for Human Emergence. Archived from the original on May 17, 2008. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  20. ^ "The Copenhagen Center for Human Emergence". Archived from the original on August 24, 2004. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  21. ^ Don, Beck (Spring–Summer 2005). "Windmills, Tulips, and Fundamentalism". Kosmos: Journal for Global Transformation. Archived from the original on August 10, 2020. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  22. ^ "Center for Human Emergence (CHE) The Netherlands: Integral Societal Renewal as Sacred Partnership in Life" (PDF). Center for Human Emergence: The Netherlands. 2014. Retrieved September 24, 2020.
  23. ^ Don, Beck (April 5, 2010). "Dr Don Beck's Challenge to the Hague Center". Peter Merry blog.
  24. ^ "Build Palestine Initiative: How to Walk the Talk" (PDF). Palestine Times. January 26, 2007. Retrieved August 2, 2014.
  25. ^ Nasser, Rafael. "Afoot with Don Beck in the Middle East". Integral Israel. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  26. ^ Build Palestine Initiative, website
  27. ^ Maalouf, Elza; Volkmann, Russ. "Notes from the Field: Dr. Beck Designs A United Nations Global Action Plan for Human Emergence & Elza Maalouf presents a Model for Palestine 21". Integral Leadership Review. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  28. ^ Eldar, Akiva (12 Feb 2006). "The eight-stage spiral to peace in the Mideast". Haaretz. Retrieved 3 Aug 2020.
  29. ^ Texas Legislature Archive Document 74R SR00901F, (proposal is #627)
  30. ^ "74(R) SR 901 Enrolled version - Bill Text". Retrieved 2018-09-25.
  31. ^ "Don Beck and the New Face of Philanthropy", by Rafael Nasser, Integral Leadership Review
  32. ^ King, Peter (April 8, 1996). "If This Is America's Team, Woe Is America". Archived from the original on October 12, 2013. Retrieved September 23, 2020. {{cite magazine}}: Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  33. ^ Heinkel-Wolfe, Peggy (December 24, 2009). "The story behind 'Invictus': Man aided team now onscreen". Denton Record-Chronicle. Archived from the original on January 25, 2010. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  34. ^ Lee, William R. (ed.). "References to the work of Dr. Graves". Clare W. Graves. Retrieved September 23, 2020.
  35. ^ "The Master Code and Integral Politics in Polarized America", by Dr. Don E. Beck, Integral Leadership Review, March 2013
  36. ^ Don Beck: In Quest of the Master Code on YouTube, at the Inside Edge Foundation, February 2012, video
  37. ^ Don Beck at the Transformational Leadership Symposium on YouTube, November 20–21, 2009, video
  38. ^ "Changing the World and Work", ABC National Radio (interview transcript) with Dr. Rachel Kohn, March 7, 2004

External links[edit]