Nature-Centered Leadership: Viewing Nature as a Stakeholder in Strategic Planning

By Spencer S. Stober.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

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The view which one holds regarding the role of humans in the natural world may function like a “moral compass” for leaders and their organizations as they make decisions with consequences for Nature. A human-centered approach to leadership makes it difficult for us to make the nature-centered choices that are necessary to sustain the environment, but a more nature-centered view can help achieve this goal. This paper proposes the following: First, leadership theory and practice is customarily perceived as a human-centered endeavor (about humans, for humans), and this human-centered perspective works to distance humans from the natural world. Second, nature-centered leadership is a legitimate view and includes viewing Nature as a stakeholder in the strategic planning process. Third, those who study leadership theory should question the anthropocentric presuppositions that inform leadership theory and practice. Leaders are in a key position to encourage dialogue among stakeholders to examine these presuppositions when planning for the triple-bottom-line (people, planet, and profit). Finally, the “precautionary principle” will be recommended as an important consideration for organizational planners when the consequences of their decisions are unclear. Nature-centered leaders influence this planning process in their efforts to preserve the environment for future generations.

Keywords: Leadership, Strategic Planning, Environmental Leadership, Nature, Triple-Bottom-Line, Sustainability

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp.109-118. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 449.771KB).

Dr. Spencer S. Stober

Professor of Biology and Educational Leadership, Graduate Studies, Alvernia University, Reading, PA, USA

Dr. Spencer S. Stober is a professor of biology and educational leadership at Alvernia University, Reading, PA, USA. He has taught biology for 30 years, including undergraduate courses in genetics, botany, and environmental science. Since earning his doctorate at Temple University, with a specialization in educational leadership and policy studies, he teaches graduate courses in education and leadership. In 2005 he received Alvernia’s Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching. He has also served in a number of key administrative positions at Alvernia University including department chairperson, Dean of Arts and Sciences, and Dean of Graduate and Continuing Studies. His research interests include environmental sustainability and the intersection between religion and science. He publishes regularly in the International Journal of Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. He recently co-authored a book with Dr. Donna Yarri, Associate Professor of Theology at Alvernia University, entitled God, Science, and Designer Genes: An Exploration of Emerging Issues in Genetic Technologies, published by Praeger in 2009. They are also working on a second book, God, Darwin, and the Origins of Life (forthcoming, Mercer University Press, 2013).