Course Materials for Authentic Sustainability - Navigating Pitfalls, Paradoxes, and Pathways in Conversations toward a Better World

26 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2013

Date Written: January 30, 2013


Slide Deck for Authentic Sustainability Workshop hosted by the Ivey School of Business, University of Western Ontario.

Slide notes are included. Contact the Author for Power Point Files.

Working paper (optional pre-read) is available through SSRN here:

The flourishing of human and other life on earth forever. Sounds like a good idea, doesn’t it? It is a possibility that catches our attention, and inspires us amid the intense challenges of unsustainability in our economy and society. And at the same time, it makes us uneasy, like “is that really possible? How can we possibly get there?” What is the pathway? We might feel particularly skeptical if we’re in the muck as innovators and advocates, trying to convince people to “get on the bus” and facing all kinds of resistance and defense of the status quo.

We’ve got some bad news and some good news. The bad news is that the doubt, resistance and defensiveness we encounter are our own fault. As much as we might think the enemy is a “they” – the 1%, the fossil fuel companies, the politicians, the climate deniers – we can be our own worst enemy. When people think of us as “environmental whackos” it may be… because we are! We lunge forward with our passion and dedication and we tumble into pitfalls of activism – self-righteousness, ideology, blame, and despair. How’s that for flourishing? The good news is that we think there are pathways around those pitfalls. These are habits of living, speaking, relating, organizing, and innovating that massively increase our effectiveness, take us beyond preaching and whining to “the choir,” and allow us to have a lot of fun in the process. But we’ve got to figure them out together.

So this is a conversation. It is hosted by two young advocates for sustainability who are willing to poke fun at themselves, and inviting others to join in the fun. We’ll share the pitfalls and pathways we’ve identified, share our stories, and invite you to share yours. We believe the result of this conversation can be profound - a transformation of the sustainability movement, making it a context for the flourishing of our lives on the way to the flourishing of all life.

This work exists in four forms: a working paper; an interactive presentation and workshop; an evolving classroom curriculum; and a train the trainer workshop.

Keywords: sustainability, leadership, paradox, authenticity, transformation

Suggested Citation

Grant, Gabriel Bauchat and Jay, Jason, Course Materials for Authentic Sustainability - Navigating Pitfalls, Paradoxes, and Pathways in Conversations toward a Better World (January 30, 2013). Available at SSRN: or

Gabriel Bauchat Grant (Contact Author)

Yale University ( email )

New Haven, CT 06520
United States

Jason Jay

MIT Sloan School of Management ( email )

77 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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