Inside-out sustainability: The neglect of inner worlds

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


In the context of continuing ecosystem degradation and deepening socio-economic inequality, sustainability scientists must question the adequacy of current scholarship and practice. We argue that pre-occupation with external phenomena and collective social structures has led to the neglect of people’s ‘inner worlds’—their emotions, thoughts, identities and beliefs. These lie at the heart of actions for sustainability, and have powerful transformative capacity for system change. The condition of people’s inner worlds ought to also be considered a dimension of sustainability itself. Compassion, empathy and generosity, for example, are personal characteristics that mark individual expressions of sustainability. Sustainability science must take inner life more seriously by considering how language shapes and is shaped by paradigms about the world, prioritising enquiry into how spirituality, contemplation and sustainability transformation relate, and encouraging scholars and practitioners to intentionally cultivate their inner worlds to strengthen inner resources necessary for addressing sustainability challenges.

Seiten (von - bis)208-217
Anzahl der Seiten10
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.01.2020

Bibliographische Notiz

Funding Information:
This research has been supported by Volkswagen Foundation (Grant Number A112269). Christopher Chase is also thanked for his helpful insights and feedback on an earlier draft. Thanks also to Andrew Fisher for intellectual guidance and directing the authors to relevant philosophical literature.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, The Author(s).