125: Boundary spanning with Stephen Posner

In this episode, Michael speaks with Stephen Posner, the Director of Pathways to Planetary Health at the Garrison Institute. The Garrison Institute is located in Garrison, New York along the Hudson River. Its mission is to apply the skills and wisdom cultivated through contemplative practice, together with the insights emerging from science, to today’s urgent social and environmental challenges, leveraging transformational change and helping build a more compassionate, resilient future.

Stephen obtained his PhD in Natural Resources from the University of Vermont in 2015, and has maintained an active research program that among things has focused on the role of boundary spanners, or organizations that are able to bridge gaps between groups and perspectives. Stephen’s answer to the question, what makes a good boundary spanner, emphasizes the importance of what he calls “self attention work” and developing a self-awareness of the reasons behind one’s own actions. Stephen also speaks about the importance of contemplative practice which is a major theme of the Garrison institute, and the importance of combining contemplation with action.


Posner, S., Fenichel E.P., McCauley, D.J., et al. 2020. Boundary spanning among research and policy communities to address the emerging industrial revolution in the ocean. Environmental Science and Policy 104: 73-81.

Neal, J., Posner, S., Brutzman, B. 2021. Understanding brokers, intermediaries, and boundary spanners: a multi-sectoral review of strategies, skills, and outcomes. Evidence & Policy.

Stephen’s recent blog entry on combining inner and outer change: https://www.garrisoninstitute.org/blog/integrating-inner-and-outer-systems-change/

Metamorphosis event page: garrisonmetamorphosis.org