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Finding Purpose

Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling

Both thoughtful and thought-provoking, Finding Purpose aims to challenge our understanding of how humanity interacts with planet Earth, and our role within this. This book is an invitation: would you like to participate in one of the most important projects of imagination, perhaps the greatest ever, in human history? Distilling and refining over 20 pieces from a lifetime of work in academia and trade, across speeches, blogs, editorials and essays, Hoffman invites us to look beyond material growth and explore the role of the individual and business in discovering a wider purpose to bring about a balanced and sustainable society.

The reader is encouraged to consider humanity’s relationship with the environment through different lenses: business, academia, faith-based and cultural. By bringing them together, Hoffman encourages us to understand our relationship with the planet in a far more holistic sense.

Drawing on ideas from philosophy, literature, natural sciences and politics, Hoffman ensures that the ideas he explores are wholly accessible and applicable. Fully substantiated through various research and examples, the issues described are consistently made relevant to the reader.

Finding Purpose is the perfect book for anyone – from student to CEO – thinking about their place in the world, and how making changes in our own lives and societies can impact on the world around us.

It’s rather easy to get sucked into the black hole of pessimism when it comes to the state of our planet. And it’s just as tempting to find needed solace in optimism, a vague hope that something – technology or an eleventh-hour revolution – will put civilization and the biosphere on a sustainable course. Andrew Hoffman’s Finding Purpose: Environmental Stewardship as a Personal Calling, offers a path out of this stale polarity between optimism and pessimism.

The book is unique in the realm of environmental literature in that it is less an alarmist call to action or policy prescription, and more of a call for self-reflection. Hoffman presents a collection of essays on the need to find purpose and calling wherever one is on life’s path. Whether a college senior on the eve of “selling out,” or a late career CEO who needs courage to look beyond the limited horizon of shareholder value, Hoffman gets the reader asking herself questions about her role in the wider effort to save our world.

Earth Island Journal on 1 Dec 2016 Bjorn Philip Beer

"The idea that a career in business might also be a calling is hopeful, especially if it’s tempered with the sense this book provides of the limits of standard business models in solving our problems." 

Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature

Amidst the swirling changes in today’s world, Professor Hoffman calls into question the orthodoxies of individuals, businesses, governments, and academics - to not simply accept the status quo but rather to challenge their own assumptions and biases in order to achieve the collective changes we need to thrive. This book is not just food for thought - it could be a roadmap for action.

Neil C. Hawkins, Corporate Vice President, Chief Sustainability Officer, The Dow Chemical Company

In this book, Andrew challenges us to look inside ourselves, examine our motivations and passions, and evaluate the difference we're each making through our life's work. In a world fraught with challenges and negative headlines, I walked away from this book feeling optimistic, inspired, and more determined than ever to continue doing my part to protect the planet.

Mark R. Tercek, President and CEO of The Nature Conservancy

Andy Hoffman’s new book reflects a maturing of business students and practitioners as they confront growing social and global challenges. Hoffman pioneered earlier efforts to use competitive analysis in making the business case for sustainability. While acknowledging that the institutional logic of markets remains vital to finding solutions to the world’s problems, Finding Purpose delves into the heart and spirit of each person. It shows us how meaning and purpose can influence the decisions we make in business, and in our personal lives, with crucial consequences for society and the environment. Its core message is that we have to change who we are being, not only what we are doing. It articulates the deep desire in each of us for greater connectedness and compassion. Hoffman speaks directly to the reader, whether student, professional, academic, or concerned citizen, prodding and provoking while comforting in its matter-of-factness, as he once again illuminates the next part of the journey to a business-led future of prosperity and flourishing.

Chris Laszlo, PhD, Faculty Director of the Fowler Center for Business as an Agent of World Benefit and author of Flourishing Enterprise: The New Spirit of Business

Finding Purpose is a distillation of some of Dr Hoffman's most powerful talks and essays. I've always thought of Andy as a pastor as much as a professor. In these deceptively brief, accessible essays, he calls me to reckon with what true 'sustainability' really looks like and what it takes to get us there; unpacks the tensions inherent in working as a pragmatic visionary; and reminds me how stepping into my vocation is as thrilling as it is urgent. This is a book I'll return to again and again.

Vienna Teng, singer, songwriter and composer - most recent production: Aims.

Foreword
J.B. MacKinnon

1. Introduction, Life’s work

Part I: Life’s Work as a Personal Vocation

2. Finding hope

3. Your theory of change

4. Your personal model of leadership

5. What do you believe?

6. Why do you care?

Part II: Green Business as a Calling

7. Why green business?

8. Green in the corner office

9. Business (almost) as usual

10. Capitalism and markets must evolve

11. Dark green or light green? 

Part III: Reclaiming the Role of Academia

12. Making bricks versus making change

13. Public engagement as a balancing act

14. The new environmental scholarship

Part IV: Changing Culture and Values

15. Culture and carbon

16. Culture and climate

17. Detoxifying the climate change debate

Part V: A Call to a Calling

18. Pope Francis as messenger

19. To till and keep the garden

20. The Anthropocene spirit

21. Conclusion, The Great Work

Acknowledgements

Biographies

References

ANDREW J HOFFMAN is the Holcim Professor of Sustainable Enterprise at the University of Michigan. He has previously worked for the US Environmental Protection Agency, and in the construction industry.

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