Biography and History

Robert Massie (1956- ) has led a varied life as an Episcopalian priest, university lecturer, social and environmental activist, historian, and executive. His work has focused on advocating higher standards of corporate responsibility and social justice in the conduct of capitalism. He has taught at Harvard Divinity School, studied anti-apartheid movements, and served as executive director of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsibile Economies (Ceres).

Massie was ordained as an Episcopalian priest in 1983. His first position was assistant rector of Grace Episcopal Church in New York City, where he co-founded a homeless shelter. In 1984, he moved to become minister of Christ Episcopal Church in Somerville, Massachusetts. At the same time, he returned to school, enrolling in Harvard Business School to improve his effectiveness as an activist. Because business is one of the most powerful institutions in society, he wanted to understand how to effectively change business practices and advocate corporate responsibility. Massie earned his Ph.D. in 1989.

Massie served as director of the Project on Business, Values and the Economy, and taught ethics and public policy, at Harvard Divinity School from 1989 to 1996. During this period, he also served on the faculty of the University of Cape Town’s Graduate School of Business as a senior Fulbright scholar. While there, he conducted research for his book Loosing the Bonds: The United States and South Africa in the Apartheid Years (1997), which won the Lionel Gelber Prize for Best Book on International Relations in 1998. Massie also ran for lieutenant governor of Massachusetts in 1994, basing his campaign on the need for ethics in government. He won the Democratic primary, but his ticket with gubenitorial candidate Mark Roosevelt lost in the general election to Republicans William Weld and Paul Cellucci.

In 1996, Massie became executive director of the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (Ceres), an organization of more than 80 environmental groups, public interest groups, and investors and analysts that addresses sustainability challenges such as global climate change. The group encourages businesses and capital markets to promote the well being of human society and the protection of the environment. As executive director, he was founding chair of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in 1997, an independent standards-setting board which created guidelines for voluntarily reporting on environmental, economic, and social conduct. The GRI has become the international standard used by corporations, governments, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to report on environmental, social, and economic performance. He also created the Sustainable Governance Forum on Climate Risk, a leadership development program that educates corporate leaders on how to address the problem of climate risk. Massie resigned as executive director of Ceres in 2003 because of ill health. As of 2009, he is still a member of the Board of Directors and serves as a consultant.

Robert K. Massie IV was born in 1956 to Robert and Suzanne Massie. He attended Princeton University, graduating in 1978. At Princeton, Massie studied European history and was a student activist, a leader in the student movement for Princeton’s divestiture from South Africa and protesting against member-only eating clubs. Massie then attended Yale Divinity School, earning his M.Div. in 1982. While at Yale, he took off a year to work for Ralph Nader’s Congress Watch. After graduation, Massie married Dana L. Robert and they have two sons, Sam and John. They divorced in 1995. Massie married Anne Tate in 1997 and they have one daughter, Kate.

Source: From the finding aid for MC237

  • Robert K. Massie IV Papers. 1950-1997 (inclusive), 1980-1991 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC237

    Robert Massie (1956- ) has led a varied life as an Episcopalian priest, university lecturer, social and environmental activist, historian, and executive. His work has focused on advocating higher standards of corporate responsibility and social justice in the conduct of capitalism. Massie's papers document his research on South Africa and anti-apartheid movements and include reports, articles, interview notes, and surveys.

  • Robert K. Massie IV Papers. 1950-1997 (inclusive), 1980-1991 (bulk).

    Call Number: MC237

    Robert Massie (1956- ) has led a varied life as an Episcopalian priest, university lecturer, social and environmental activist, historian, and executive. His work has focused on advocating higher standards of corporate responsibility and social justice in the conduct of capitalism. Massie's papers document his research on South Africa and anti-apartheid movements and include reports, articles, interview notes, and surveys.