Catto Fellowship Program

Value-based Leadership and Environmental Values

The Catto Fellowship Program is an offshoot of the Aspen Institute’s renowned Henry Crown Fellowship Program, the Rodel Fellowship Program, and the Aspen Institute’s other international leadership initiatives, all of which comprise the Aspen Global Leadership Network (AGLN). Traditionally, all Aspen Institute leadership initiatives seek to grasp and resolve the indispenAmalsable values underlying leadership and, in the case of the Catto Fellowship, the common values critical for a healthy and sustainable environment. Based on this reflection, the Fellows are challenged to develop new insights about themselves, the role of leadership, and the need for effective collaborative action to ensure the well-being of the environment. The focus on collaboration across sectors will make energy and the environment a cornerstone of the leadership experience, which Fellows will then apply in their profession for the betterment of the world. 

The Challenge

Climate change, growing energy demand, the loss of biodiversity, diminishing fresh water availability, dwindling fish populations and other environmental problems threaten disruptions on a scale more imposing than ever before.  Indeed, this combination of global environmental trends imperils the balance of nature, the survival of species and human wellbeing.  Yet, far-reaching, effective collaboration on environmental issues among non-governmental, public and private organizations is lacking or inadequate, and there is little agreement among these stakeholders on how best to address these global trends. 

The need for a broad consensus to respond to sustainable energy and environmental solutions is clear.  To respond to this call, the Aspen Institute launched the first international environmental leadership initiative, the Catto Fellowship Program. The purpose of this leadership initiative is to gather emerging leaders from business, government, journalism, nonprofit, and other organizations through an international environmental fellowship designed to encourage young leaders to reach beyond individual success toward achieving significant and sustainable environmental results. 

CattoAEFLunchEvery year, a diverse class of 20 Fellows between the ages of 30 and 45 undertake a program of advanced seminars under the direction of experienced Aspen Institute moderators. The two-year program involves four seminars of approximately five days each year, plus the time allocated for a major collaborative environmental leadership project.  All Aspen Institute leadership initiatives seek to grasp and resolve the indispensable values underlying leadership; in this case, emphasis is also placed on the common values critical for collaborative action to create a healthy and sustainable environment. 

The Program

While there are other environmental leadership programs, the environment Fellowship Program is distinctive by virtue of its international scope, its focus on collaboration, the relatively advanced stage of the participants’ careers, and the use of the Institute’s signature values-based seminars. Fellows will join a community of diverse leaders and be given the opportunity to create a professional network through collaboration with other emerging and existing leaders.  The entire orientation of the Program, with the Aspen fellowship programs that inspired its creation, is “thought leading to action.”

  • Through the readings that form the basis of the seminars, the Fellows are exposed to a range of “thought leaders” and role models from around the globe and across the ages who have clearly articulated their visions for “a good society” and demonstrated their capacity for effective, enlightened leadership. 
  • Through the dialogue and debate that is inspired by these readings and prompted by the moderators, the Fellows are exposed to the values and beliefs of others with whom they must learn to work if they are to build stronger economies and civil societies.  Government and civil society leaders learn how their counterparts in the business community think about concepts such as “sustainability” and “responsibility,” how they respond to crises and critical challenges, and what their frustrations are as they try to create commerce that are compatible with the environment.  Likewise, business leaders learn how their counterparts in other sectors think about “conservation” and “sustainability,” and how they balance the demands of the marketplace with the needs of the environment.
  • Through their collaborative group leadership project, which challenges Fellows to put their own visions and leadership styles into action, Fellows work together in a large-scale effort to solve an environmental problem in the world. This requirement of the Fellowship is designed to put into practice the ideals of collaborative, values-based leadership that crosses the business, government, and NGO sectors to address critical national and global environmental issues.