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Is there a Relation Between Ecological Practices and Spirituality? The Case of Benedictine Monasteries : Ecological Practices in Benedictine Monasteries

Freyer, Bernhard, Aversano-Dearborn, Valentina, Winkler, Georg, Leipold, Sina, Haidl, Harald, Brand, Karl Werner, Rosenberger, Michael, Wallnig, Thomas
Journal of agricultural & environmental ethics 2018 v.31 no.5 pp. 559-582
decision making, ethics, learning
For decades there has been a controversial debate over how far religious faith communities are specifically engaged in ecological practices (EP). Therefore we studied four Austrian and two German Benedictine monasteries religious ethics and spirituality as a means of a driving force for initiating EP. We draw upon theories of organizational learning processes and capacity-building of sustainability to interpret our empirical findings. The majority of monasteries are highly engaged in EP, initiated either as an outcome of individual activities or through a specific mostly informally acting group, but rarely an organizationally or systematically integrated goal of the monasteries, or a focus of capacity building. Monasteries follow a technical and economic decision-making process in implementing EP. Spirituality plays a limited role in the initiation of EP. The environment of monasteries–acceptance or critique against ecological practices–influences the monasteries decisions. Institutionalization of ecological practices into the monasteries organizational structure is rare.