Book Reviews: Back to Nature

duke-gardensLouv, Richard. The nature principle : human restoration and the end of nature-deficit disorder. Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (NC), 2011.

Tercek, Mark R. Nature’s fortune : how business and society thrive by investing in natureBasic Books, 2013.

Darlington, Susan M. The ordination of a tree : the Thai Buddhist environmental movement. SUNY Press, 2012.

At this moment, during the first week of term 1, the library is completely full with students seated at every chair and table.  Students may not fully realize it, but the natural light and views of nature draw them to the library space. That is by design.  The knowledge work in an MBA/MMS program depletes mental resources as focused attention on reading, studying and preparing for class leads to fatigue.  The remedy is exposure to nature, including the shared views of trees and sky in the Ford Library, which lift people’s moods and enhance their ability to mentally focus.

nature-principleIn The Nature Principle, author Richard Louv examines the mind/body/nature connection.  Years ago, he coined the term “nature deficit disorder,” and in his new book, Louv describes “the nature principle,” which holds that a reconnection to the natural world is essential to mental and physical health.  He explains that in the modern age, people have placed great faith in technology but the relationship with nature has declined.  Human costs of alienation from the natural world include stress, anxiety and depression, as well as problems with attention and focus.  Reconnecting with nature benefits both the human mind and spirit. Regarding business, some companies understand that nature offsets stress and they respond by installing on-site gardens or by creating everyday Edens with houseplants.  Businesses that want to draw the best performance from their employees connect them with nature.  This readable book is both well researched and thoughtfully presented with dozens of stories. Also available as an audiobook.

nature-fortuneMaking the business case for nature is one of the topics discussed in Nature’s Fortune.  Authors Tercek and Adams explain the idea of natural capital, putting a value on nature as an asset.  Dominating nature has long been the goal of human beings, destined to fail in the long run.  However, considering environmental effects in business decisions results in increased long term profitability, and in recent years, a more positive corporate image.  Protecting resources needed for production, such as clean water, is more than a business expense, it is an intelligent commercial investment.  Global corporations have a disproportionate effect on the environment and these companies are encouraged to form partnerships with environmentalists to help them improve their conservation practices.  The authors also encourage governments to create incentives for global businesses to invest in nature instead of degrading it.  Examples from many companies worldwide are models of sustainability. Also available as an online e-book.

tree-ordainedThe Ordination of a Tree is admittedly an odd book for a business library, but this title was rated “Essential” by an academic book review service, and not previously held in Duke’s collection.   In the book, the environment in Thailand is described as significantly degraded by a small group of powerful and wealthy people.  In recent decades, Buddhist monks are leading an ecological movement to conserve forests, preserve clean water, mitigate soil erosion and protect wildlife. Practices include traditional environmentalism, working with local people and NGOs, as well as sacred rituals, including ordaining trees.  This is an academic work, interesting but not an easy read. Also available as an online e-book.

© Reviewer: Meg Trauner & Ford Library – Fuqua School of Business.
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