As the fields opened out by pioneering social and environmental entrepreneurs begin to mainstream, we will see a secondary wave of professionalisation. Although I have tended to shy away from the conventional professional institutes in these fields, because they have often struck me as pursuing the narrow self-interests of particular groups of professionals or as being obsessed with strapping letters after people’s names, I do see a growing need to network across the hugely diverse disciplines and fields that social entrepreneurship, human rights, cleantech, sustainable development and so on now embrace. Which is a key reason I was happy to accept this week the Honorary Fellowship offered by the Institute of Green Professionals, based in the USA.
As background, IGP is “an independent, professional, education, credentialing, research and philanthropic “social enterprise” organization for sustainable development professionals and academics. Multi-disciplinary in its scope, the Institute of Green Professionals is the only credentialing and ethics code-based global organization that brings together individuals and organizations from diverse areas of sustainable development expertise. The IGP specialties currently include accounting, appraisal, architecture, engineering, land planning, landscape architecture, real property valuation, law, including participants in CSR capacities.”
What caught my interest, though, was IGP’s Mission Statement, which referenced the thinking of both Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson and economist Brian Milani. Professor Wilson noted that: “A balanced perspective cannot be acquired by studying disciplines in pieces but through pursuit of the consilience among them.” As IGP points out, the term ‘consilience’ was used in Wilson’s 1998 book of the same name, Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge, and means “the joining together of knowledge and information across disciplines to create a unified framework of understanding.”
Milani applied this concept to participants in the transition to a Green economy when he said: “The environmental movement in particular should put more emphasis on establishing an educational network that both formalizes its educational tasks and systematizes connections with the rest of the community.”
These are sentiments, ambitions and pursuits that I wholly buy into.