The mission of the RAND Frederick S. Pardee Center for Longer Range
Global Policy and the Future Human Condition is ultimately to improve
the human condition in the longer-range future. While there is no sure
path to improving the future human condition, there is no shortage of
books that address themselves to some aspect of improving that future.

we were to peer backward from, say, 50 years hence at the books
available today, we could probably identify dozens or hundreds that had
something useful to say had we only listened. From today’s perspective,
however, it is difficult to identify those insightful passages, let
alone the books that contain them, from among the thousands that
address some aspect of the future.

But suppose we tried
for something more modest – a list of 50 books covering broad topics
that seem likely to be important in thinking about the future human
condition. What might that list of 50 books look like?

following is a first cut at what that list of books might look like.
Why books? Why not articles, or speeches, or university courses, or
documentaries, or blogs, or …? The intent of the readings is to be as
comprehensive as possible on each of the topics addressed, so
book-length treatments seemed like the best approach.

The Past

1. Roberts, J. M., The New History of the World, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0195219279

2. Diamond, Jared, Guns, Germs and Steel, New York, W. W. Norton and Company, 1999. ISBN 0-393-06131-0

3. Diamond, Jared, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed, New York; Viking, 2005. ISBN 0143036556

Thinking About the Future in the Past

4. Keynes, John Maynard, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, New York: Penguin Books, 1995 (originally published in 1920). ISBN 0140188053

5. Kahn, Herman, and Anthony J. Weiner, The Year 2000: A Framework for Speculation on the Next Thirty Years, New York: Macmillan, 1967. (no ISBN available)

6. Kahn, Herman, William Brown, and Leon Martel, The Next 200 Years: A Scenario for America and the World, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1976. ISBN 0688030297

7. Bell, Daniel, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society: A Venture in Social Forecasting, New York: Basic Books, 1999 (originally published in 1973). ISBN 0-465-09713-8

8. Toffler, Alvin, Future Shock, New York: Bantam Books, 1971. ISBN 0-553-27737-5
Human Development

9. Lauren, Paul Gordon, The Evolution of International Human Rights, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998. ISBN 0-8122-1854-X

10. Fukuda-Parr, Sakiko, and A. K. Shiva Kumar, Readings in Human Development, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2nd ed., 2004. ISBN 0195670523

11. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2000: Human Rights and Human Development, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 0195216784. Also available online from the UNDP Web site.

12. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2001: Making New Technologies Work for Human Development, New York: Oxford University Press, 2001. ISBN 0195218353. Also available online from the UNDP Web site.

13. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2002: Deepening Democracy in a Fragmented World, New York: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN 0195219155. Also available online from the UNDP Web site.

14. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2003: Millennium Development Goals: A Compact Among Nations to End Human Poverty, New York: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN 0195219880. Also available online from the UNDP Web site.

15. United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 2004: Cultural Liberty in Today’s Diverse World, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 019522146X. Also available online from the UNDP Web site.

Issues For the Future
Global Governance

16. Kaul, Inge, Isabelle Grunberg, Marc C. Stern (eds.), Global Public Goods: International Cooperation in the 21st Century, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 0195130529

International Conflict

17. Nye, Joseph S. Jr., Understanding International Conflict, New York: Longman, (4th ed.) 2003. ISBN 0-321-20945-1


18. The Advisory Committee on Health Research, Genomics and World Health, Geneva: World Health Organization, 2002. ISBN 92-4-154554-2. Also available as a downloadable PDF from the WHO Web site. (982 KB)


19. Cohen, Joel E., How Many People Can the Earth Support? New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 1995. ISBN 0-393-31495-2


20. Brockman, John (ed.), The Next Fifty Years: Science in the First Half of the Twenty-first Century, New York: Vintage Books, 2002. ISBN 0-375-71342-5

21. Ridley, Matt, Genome: The Autobiography of a Species in 23 Chapters, New York: HarperCollins, 2000. ISBN 0-060-93290-2

22. Wilson, Michael, et al., Nanotechnology: Basic Science and Emerging Technologies, Boca Raton, Fla.: Chapman and Hall/CRC, 2004. ISBN 1584883391
Information Technology

23. Brin, David, The Transparent Society: Will Technology Force us to Choose Between Privacy and Freedom?, New York: Perseus Books, 1998. ISBN 0738201448


24. Alley, Richard, The Two-Mile Time Machine: Ice Cores, Abrupt Climate Change, and Our Future, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000. ISBN 0-691-10296-1

25. Hawken, Paul, Amory Lovins, and L. Hunter Lovins, Natural Capitalism, New York: Little, Brown and Co., 1999. ISBN 0316353167

26. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment: Synthesis, Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2005. ISBN 1-59726-040-1


27. Lovins, Amory, Winning the Oil Endgame: Innovation for Profits, Jobs, and Security, Snowmass, Colo.: Rocky Mountain Institute, 2004. ISBN 1-881071-10-3. Also available online from

Global Economics

28. Stiglitz, Joseph E., Globalization and Its Discontents, New York: W. W. Norton and Company, 2003. ISBN 0-393-32439-7

29. Bhagwati, Jagdish, In Defense of Globalization, New York: Oxford University Press, 2004. ISBN 0195300033

30. Friedman, Thomas, The Lexus and the Olive Tree: Understanding Globalization, New York: Anchor Books, 2000. ISBN 0-385-49934-5

31. Todaro, Michael P. and Stephen C. Smith, Economic Development, Harlow, England: Pearson/Addison Wesley, 9th ed., 2003. ISBN 0-321-27888-7

32. Sachs, Jeffrey, The End of Poverty, New York: The Penguin Press, 2005. ISBN 1594200459


33. Aslan, Reza, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam, New York: Random House, 2005. ISBN 1-4000-6213-6

Geographical Regions

34. McCormick, John, Understanding the European Union: A Concise Introduction, New York: Palgrave, 2002. ISBN 1-4039-4451-2

35. Overholt, William H., The Rise of China, New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1993. ISBN 0-393-31245-3

36. Harding, Harry, China’s Second Revolution: Reform After Mao, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1987. ISBN 0815734611

37. Cohen, Stephen Philip, India: Emerging Power, Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2001. ISBN 0815715013

38. Skidmore, Thomas E., Modern Latin America, Oxford: Oxford University Press, sixth ed., 2005. ISBN 019517013X

39. Fromkin, David, A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East, New York: Owl Books, 1989. ISBN 0-8050-6884-8

40. Billington, James H., Russia in Search of Itself, Washington, D.C.: Woodrow Wilson Center Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8018-7976-0

41. Schraeder, Peter J., African Politics and Society: A Mosaic in Transformation, Australia: Thomson/Wadsworth, 2004. ISBN 053456769X

42. Englebert, Pierre, State Legitimacy and Development in Africa, Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2000. ISBN 1-58826-131-X

Thinking About the Future

43. Cornish, Edward, Futuring, Bethesda, Md.: World Future Society, (2004). ISBN 0-930242-61-0

44. Galtung, Johan, and Sohail Inayatullah, Macrohistory and Macrohistorians: Perspectives on Individual, Social, and Civilizational Change, Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1997. ISBN 0-275-95755-1

45. Lempert, Robert J., Steven W. Popper, and Steven C. Bankes, Shaping the Next One Hundred Years: New Methods for Quantitative, Long-Term Policy Analysis, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND Corporation, 2003. ISBN 0-8330-3275-5. Chapters also available online.

46. Heller, Peter, Who Will Pay?: Coping with Aging Societies, Climate Change, and Other Long-Term Fiscal Challenges, Washington, D.C.: International Monetary Fund, 2003. ISBN 1-58906-223-X. Selected chapters also available online from the IMF Web site.

47. Lomborg, Bjorn, Global Crises, Global Solutions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. ISBN 0521606144

Wild Cards

48. Benyus, Janine, Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature, New York: Perennial, 2002. ISBN 0060533226

49. Kurzweil, Ray and Terry Grossman, Fantastic Voyage: Live Long Enough to Live Forever, Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale, 2004. ISBN 1-57954-954-3. Selected chapters also available online from

50. Hostetler, John A., Amish Society, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-8018-4442-8

More here.

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