Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability

Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability


Flourishing: A Frank Conversation about Sustainability invites you into a conversation between a teacher, John R. Ehrenfeld, and his former student now professor, Andrew J. Hoffman, as they discuss how to create a sustainable world. Unlike virtually all other books about sustainability, this one goes beyond the typical stories that we tell ourselves about repairing the environmental damages of human progress.

Through their dialogue and essays that open each section, the authors uncover two core facets of our culture that drive the unsustainable, unsatisfying, and unfair social and economic machines that dominate our lives. First, our collective model of the way the world works cannot cope with the inherent complexity of today's highly connected, high-speed reality. Second, our understanding of human behavior is rooted in this outdated model. Driven by the old guard, sustainability has become little more than a fashionable idea. As a result, both business and government are following the wrong path- at best applying temporary, less unsustainable solutions that will fail to leave future generations in better shape.

To shift the pendulum, this book tells a new story, driven by being and caring, as opposed to having and needing, rooted in the beauty of complexity and arguing for the transformative cultural shift that we can make based on our collective wisdom and lived experiences. Then, the authors sketch out the road to a flourishing future, a change in our consumption and a new approach to understanding and acting.

There is no middle ground; without a sea change at the most basic level, we will continue to head down a faulty path. Indeed, this book is a clarion call to action. Candid and insightful, it leaves readers with cautious hope.


“Teaching is more difficult than learning because what teaching
calls for is this: to let learn. The real teacher, in fact, lets nothing
else be learned than learning. His conduct, therefore, often pro
duces the impression that we properly learn nothing from him, if
by ‘learning’ we now suddenly understand merely the procurement
of useful information.”

Martin Heidegger

What is the legacy of a professor? This is a question that every professor asks him- or herself at some point in their career. How do we know if we have left an imprint on our students? How do we know if our ideas and research will make a difference in the world? The answers to these questions are elusive, and often require an element of faith; trust that our ideas will live beyond us and grow within those whom we touch through our teaching and writing. But in Martin Heidegger’s words we can see a glimpse of where a more precise answer can be found. A great professor teaches his students to learn and continue to learn.

On that measure, John Ehrenfeld has left a large legacy. John saw the importance of environmental issues to business long before others did, and he devoted his life to researching and teaching them. But, more important, he nurtured others to carry on his work. It is not an idle boast to say that John is responsible for populating today’s business schools with more professors focused on the environment and sustainability than produced by any other teacher. Today, John’s students teach at the London Business School, University of Virginia, Dartmouth College . . .

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