A gap exists between discussing the environment in abstract terms and leadership spurring actions that will institute meaningful change.
Three Kettering University faculty members are featured in a book discussing exactly that: how effective leadership can lead to positive environmental change.
Leadership and Environmental Sustainability, published in 2010 by Benjamin W. Redekop, associate professor of Leadership Studies at Christopher Newport University in Newport News, Va., features research by Kettering professors Michael Callahan, professor of history in the department of liberal studies as well as the Thompson Chair of Leadership Studies; Denise Stodola, assistant professor of communication in the Department of liberal studies; and Ezekiel Gebissa, professor of social science in the Department of Liberal Studies.
Callahan focused on how The League of Nations was well ahead of its time when it came to environmental issues. Its leadership was comprised of, as Callahan writes, a “mix of scientists, technical experts, activists, diplomats and politicians working with nongovernmental organizations, private foundations, business groups, national governments and the permanent staff and officials in Geneva.”
This mix allowed the League of Nations to be a global leader on issues such as the importance of safe drinking water, clean air, green space in urban planning, protection of wildlife and prevention of air pollution. The league also was an early leader in understanding the dangers of lead paint.
Gebissa examined the potential for “bottom-up” leadership to initiate meaningful environmental change, using farmers in Ethiopia as a case study. Gebissa wrote about the failures of policy-makers in Ethiopia, who had tried several different top-down strategies, to solve the problems of a growing population, degradation of the land and dwindling natural resources.
Stodola’s chapter deals with transmitting environmental messages to the general public, focusing on methods used by Silent Spring author Rachel Carson, whose book and research helped inform the public about the dangers of pesticides in the 1950s and 1960s.
For more on the book, visit: http://www.kettering.edu/visitors/storydetail.jsp?storynum=3054.
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