Ecology & Religion: How Should Ecologists Engage with Faith Communities?
Wednesday, August 13, 2014: 3:30 PM-5:00 PM
313, Sacramento Convention Center
Gregory E. Hitzhusen, The Ohio State University
Forest Isbell, University of Georgia;
Rick Hammer, Hardin-Simmons University; and
Leanne M. Jablonski, Marianist Environmental Education Center
F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska Fairbanks
A speakers bureau for outreach to faith communities has recently been established within the Ecological Society of America (ESA), partly in response to requests from faith communities for reliable ecological information. This ignite session will consider challenges and strategies for ecologists engaging with faith communities. It will include brief presentations considering the history of tension between ecological and faith communities, controversial contemporary topics, and best practices for future interactions between ecological and faith communities. For example, we will consider whether religion provides more problems or solutions for environmental issues. We will address challenges that ecologists participating in the speakers bureau might face from members of either the faith or ecological communities who have polarized perspectives. We will highlight the diversity among and within faith communities, and explore the challenges and learning opportunities for ecologists when speaking to members of other cultural traditions. Forward-looking talks will outline unique, and thus far under-explored, opportunities for synergistic collaborations between ecological and faith communities. The session will then move to a panel discussion focusing on the following questions: (1) How can we move past historical tensions between ecological and faith communities? What misconceptions persist in these communities and how should we address them? (2) What might be gained or lost as ecologists engage with faith communities? (3) What boundaries and guidelines could help establish the most effective dialogue between ecological and faith communities? (4) How can ecological and faith communities optimize collaborations to address global environmental issues, achieve ecological literacy, and promote earth stewardship?