Donella Meadows Fellowship

Balaton Group co-founder Donella Meadows is remembered as a scientist, communicator, teacher, farmer, sustainability leader and one the world’s foremost systems analysts. She was lead author of the pioneering work The Limits to Growth—the 1972 bestseller on global trends in population, economics and the environment.

Dana won many honors in her lifetime, and the Balaton Group honors her memory with a Fellowship awarded to young rising stars in sustainability. The aim is to empower young and emerging leaders, especially young women, in sustainability research and practice.

Donella Meadows (1941–2001)

The award includes financial support to participate in the Balaton Group Meeting in Hungary, and access to potential mentors and partners who can provide invaluable support. With generous support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the group announced the selection of 10 Donella Meadows Fellows in 2010, four in 2011, eight in 2012 and six in 2013. Funded by private donations, the program has continued at a smaller scale since 2014.

We are always searching for institutional or individual donors who would like to support us in continuing this successful program into the future.


Applicants for the Fellowship must have the support or recommendation of an existing member of the network, should be finished with their formal education, be less than 40 years old, and be engaged professionally in an organization or in projects that solve problems related to environment and sustainable development in their own country.

They also must have a command of English that is good enough to permit full participation in our meetings and, preferably, have a modeling or system thinking background.

What Fellows say:

“The Balaton Meeting is not a conference. It is an annual gathering for friends who are passionately debating about environmental, cultural and development issues – always with a systemic approach and creativity. The membership will be one of my most important resources in my whole career.

Béla Kuslits, Hungary

Lists of ideas, possibilities and books to read were getting longer each day. I liked the openness and supportive environment in the room. I wish I could be a bridge from Balaton world to the world I came from.

Ponchan Kraiwatnutsor, Ashoka and Thailand

“I never knew thinking could be so diverse. I started feeling ‘egalitarianism’ is at the heart of sustainability. I never knew ‘games’ are not merely child’s play; games are ways to understand behavioural response in complex situations. I gained a lot from interactions with other members.

Shyamasree Desgupta, Thailand

Being part of the Balaton Group is being part of something bigger. It is being part of one of the leading networks in our profession. It is so multifaceted and interdisciplinary. It is like keeping a pulse on world events as they are discussed and analyzed using systems thinking. It is being a witness to research papers, academic concepts and other sustainability initiatives that are being born here and now.”

Nora Mzavanadze, Hungary

The Balaton Group is a community of associates, fellows, partners, and friends. A word said by one can provoke a great idea in another. We keep contact by email, Facebook and other means, and we already had several very useful discussions. I would like to thank all the Balatoners – the network is still expanding. From a system standpoint this is exactly the case when the whole is more than just a sum of parts.

Kate Oganessian