Journal of Global Citizenship & Equity Education, Vol 2, No 2 (2012)

Moral and Ethical Foundations for Sustainability: A Multi-disciplinary Approach

Basil Chen


The purpose of this paper is to accomplish two objectives: (1) review and flesh out in detail the philosophical, theoretical, and pragmatic issues underlying differing perspectives on sustainability and offer up an integrated sustainability framework; (2) consolidate and utilize the findings from the literature review to shed theoretical and practical insights into the foundation of sustainability leadership. This paper takes an integrative approach of weaving and stitching together theories from the field of philosophy, ecology, social psychology, sociobiology, anthropology, economics, and strategic management to provide an integrated view of sustainability and sustainability leadership. Finally, the paper will cogently argue that morality, virtuousness, and character serve as building blocks for sustainability leadership and in so doing offer up a series of six propositions about the antecedents and outcomes of sustainability and sustainability leadership. The paper concludes with recommendations for future study and research.


Sustainability; sustainability leadership; virtue; virtuousness; virtue ethics; morality; human flourishing; strategic management; ecological economists; neoclassical economists; systems thinking

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