Steven Rockefeller is professor emeritus of religion at Middlebury College, where he also served as dean of the College. He received his bachelor of arts degree from Princeton University, his master of divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, and his Ph.D. in the philosophy of religion from Columbia University. He is the author of John Dewey: Religious Faith and Democratic Humanism (Columbia, 1991) and the co-editor of two books of essays, The Christ and the Bodhisattva (SUNY, 1987) and Spirit and Nature: Why the Environment is a Religious Issue (Beacon, 1992). His essays appear in many books and journals. In recent years much of his research and writing has focused on global ethics, sustainable development, and the interrelation of democracy, ecology, and spirituality.
Professor Rockefeller has served as a trustee of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund from 1977 to 1980, from 1986 to 1995, and from 1996 to 2016. He was chair of the board from 1998 to 2006.
Over the past 15 years, he has been actively involved in the Earth Charter Initiative, which in and through extensive worldwide, cross-cultural dialogue has endeavored to identify and articulate shared values that provide an ethical foundation for the emerging global community. He chaired the Earth Charter International Drafting Committee from 1996 to 2000. A final version of the Earth Charter-a declaration of fundamental principles for building a just, sustainable, and peaceful world-was launched by the Earth Charter Commission in 2000. For the past ten years Professor Rockefeller has served as a member of the Earth Charter Commission and since 2006 as co-chair of the Earth Charter International Council, which has 100 affiliates in 57 different countries. The Earth Charter has been translated into 40 languages and endorsed by over 5,000 organizations globally, including UNESCO and the World Conservation Union (IUCN).
In the early 1990s, Professor Rockefeller served as a member of the National Commission on the Environment organized by the World Wildlife Fund. He has been a member of the board of trustees of the National Audubon Society, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and the Zen Center, Rochester, New York. He served as a trustee of the Asian Cultural Council from 1991 to 2006 and as a member of the Council of the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica from 1999 to 2003. He joined the Council on Foreign Relations in 2009. From 1987 to 1997 Professor Rockefeller chaired the Rockefeller Family Philanthropy Committee. From 1991 to 1998 he chaired the board of The Philanthropic Collaborative (TPC), a public charity based in New York City that is now affiliated with Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
Professor Rockefeller is a founder and former president of the Wendell Gilley Museum of Bird Carving in Southwest Harbor, Maine, of the Demeter Fund, which established a new park and wildlife refuge in Vermont's Champlain Valley in 1999, and of the Otter Creek Child Care Center in Middlebury, Vermont. During the 1990s he was a member of the Governor's Council of Environmental Advisors in Vermont.
Professor Rockefeller, a son of Nelson A. Rockefeller, has four children and nine grandchildren. He lives with his wife, Barbara Bellows Rockefeller, in Pound Ridge, New York.