Report Defines Changes Needed To Bring About a Sustainable World

Successfully confronting today’s environmental and social challenges requires a re-examination of the values and worldviews that shape our perceptions of nature and society, according to a new Yale report, “Toward a New Consciousness: ­Values to Sustain Human and Natural Communities.”

The report synthesizes the insights and recommendations of over 60 leaders in the natural and social sciences, philosophy, communications, religion, public policy, business and the creative arts that were generated during a conference organized by the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies last fall in Aspen, Colorado.

“Many of our deepest thinkers and many of those most familiar with the scale of the challenges we face have concluded that the changes needed to sustain human and natural communities can only be achieved in the context of the rise of a new consciousness,” writes Gus Speth, dean of the environment school, in the report’s foreword.

The first section of the report seeks to identify and understand the contemporary worldviews that pose barriers to grappling successfully with environmental and social needs. The second addresses the changes in values needed to strengthen human ties with each other and with the natural world, and identifies steps toward realizing these goals.

“No amount of clever regulatory tinkering, technological innovation, economic efficiency or scientific knowledge can alone answer the scale of society’s need,” says Stephen Kellert, the Tweedy Ordway Professor of Social Ecology, in the report’s afterword. “We need to address the roots of our predicament - an adversarial relationship to the natural world - and find a way to shift our core values and worldviews not just toward the task of sustainability, but toward a society with a meaningful and fulfilling relationship with the ­creation.”

The report can be downloaded for free or a print copy may be purchased at or

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