Willis Harman

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Willis W. Harman
Born (1918-08-16)August 16, 1918
Seattle, Washington
Died January 30, 1997(1997-01-30) (aged 78)
Stanford, California
Nationality American
Fields Electrical engineering
Sociocultural evolution
Institutions Stanford University
SRI International
Institute of Noetic Sciences
Alma mater University of Washington
Stanford University
Doctoral advisor Karl Spangenberg
Doctoral students John B. Thomas
Nils Nilsson
Norman Abramson

Willis Harman (August 16, 1918 – January 30, 1997)[1] was an American engineer, social scientist, academic, futurist, writer, and visionary.

He is best remembered for his work with SRI International, for being president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California,[2] and for his work in raising consciousness within the international business community.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Harman was born in Seattle, Washington on August 16, 1918. He graduated from the University of Washington in 1939 with a B.S. degree in electrical engineering. After graduation, he worked for General Electric and then joined the Navy as an electrical officer. He was stationed on the USS Maryland (BB-46) but was ashore near Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After the end of World War II, Harman received his M.S. in physics and Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University.[2] He has three daughters, one son, many grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren. He had a rose garden and a swinging horse in his backyard.


Harman taught for several years at the University of Florida before joining the Stanford faculty in 1952.[2] He eventually left Stanford to become a senior social scientist at SRI International where he initiated a futures research program, exploring the national and global future. In this capacity he worked on long-term strategic planning and policy analysis for an assortment of corporations, government agencies, and international organizations.[4] He then served as president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences from 1975 until his death in 1997. During the 1970s, he was appointed a regent of the University of California by then governor Jerry Brown.[2][5][6]

While a professor at Stanford University in 1968, he taught a course called "Human Potential"' which covered different areas in Spirituality and Consciousness. Writings by Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, Fritz Perls, and Will Schutz were among the subject matter. Prof. Harman held several of his classes at his home, which was not commonly done. "Human Potential" became a very popular course at Stanford and it influenced the lives of students who took it in significant ways.

Selected works[edit]

  • Biology Revisioned (with Elizabet Sahtouris, 1998)
  • Global Mind Change: The Promise of the 21st Century (2nd ed., 1998)
  • New Business of Business: Taking Responsibility for a Positive Global Future (with Maya Porter, 1997)
  • New Metaphysical Foundations of Modern Science (with Jane Clark, 1994)
  • New Traditions in Business: Spirit and Leadership in the 21st Century (1991)
  • Creative Work: The Constructive Role of Business N A Transforming Society (1991)
  • Global Mind Change: The New Age Revolution in the Way We Think (1988/1990)
  • Paths to Peace (with Richard Smoke, 1987)
  • Higher Creativity:Liberating the Unconscious for Breakthrough Insight (with Howard Rheingold, 1984)
  • Energy Futures, Human Values and Life Styles (1982)
  • Changing Images of Man (1982)
  • An Incomplete Guide to the Future (1976/1979).


  1. ^ "Obituary: Willis Harman". The Futurist. World Future Society. 31 (3): 59. May–June 1997. ISSN 0016-3317. 
  2. ^ a b c d Harman, W.W.; Porter, M. (1997). The New Business of Business: Sharing Responsibility for a Positive Global Future. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. p. 273. ISBN 9781576750186. Retrieved 2015-09-13. 
  3. ^ "Business and Social Responsibility :: An Interview with Willis Harman". scottlondon.com. Retrieved 2015-09-13. 
  4. ^ Todd and Lisa Fahey. "The Original Captain Trips". fargonebooks.com. Retrieved 2015-09-13. 
  5. ^ "Sign In". jhp.sagepub.com. Retrieved 2015-09-13. 
  6. ^ "PFN News Spring 1997 — YES! Magazine". yesmagazine.org. Retrieved 2015-09-13. 

External links[edit]