OOS 56
Ecologists and Faith & Justice Communities: Evaluating Opportunities and Challenges for Outreach and Partnership for the Next 100 Years

Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 1:30 PM-5:00 PM
341, Baltimore Convention Center
Leanne M. Jablonski, Marianist Environmental Education Center
Gregory E. Hitzhusen, The Ohio State University; and Kellen Marshall, University of Illinois at Chicago
Leanne M. Jablonski, Marianist Environmental Education Center
Communities of faith and those impacted by environmental injustice are increasingly engaging earth stewardship issues including climate change, environmental quality and human rights to food and water. Environmental Justice (EJ) communities have complex needs for ecological information, and seek science partnerships to gain reliable background information, techniques and data on which to base their policies and programs. Faith communities have increasingly articulated the justice and moral dimensions of earth stewardship issues. Both justice and faith groups are reaching out for sound science to inform their work in relevant, helpful ways for their communities. Given the vast numbers of people these faith and justice communities represent, forming mutually-beneficial partnerships of ecologists with these communities is advantageous to achieve earth stewardship. Historically, ecologists have been trained neither in skills for building community partnerships nor in the importance of choosing research questions and sites that address community needs. Because our disciplines are often institutionally siloed, community-engagement work has often not been recognized or rewarded as appropriate for ecologists. Scientific engagement with faith communities was avoided, misunderstood, or ignored, thus leaving many community leaders and important segments of the general public outside of collaborative circles with ecologists and ecological knowledge. Ecologists now recognize the need to be more effective in outreach and to develop partnership with communities for our science to be relevant. This will require establishing relationships with communities that through mutual understanding, help frame and contextualize our research questions. For faith communities, such an approach represents a shifting from the past antagonism between science and religion to an interaction in which religion can be seen as relevant in addressing ecological problems. This session features cases and best practices from faith and justice communities that illustrate challenges and successes, barriers and opportunities. By including exemplary leaders representing diverse religious traditions and justice organizations, and ecologist bridge-builders, this session builds on ESA EJ Section community-based events at past meetings and the Scientists Speakers Bureau for Outreach. It is part of a set of proposals for ESA 2015 centenary featuring presentations, dialogue and field trips between local justice-impacted communities and ecologists. Together we are developing an action plan for the EJ Section and all of ESA to more effectively partner in outreach, research and policy to achieve earth stewardship
1:30 PM
 The American religious environmental landscape: Opportunities and challenges for ecologists
Cassandra Carmichael, National Religious Partnership for the Environment (NRPE)
3:10 PM
4:00 PM
 Coalition for achieving the human right to water for all in California: Lessons learned and vision for the future
Vicente Lara, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water; Daisy Gonzalez, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water; Colin Bailey, Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
4:20 PM
 Ecologist dialogue and outreach with faith communities: Lessons from experience and study in the Ecological Society of America
Gregory E. Hitzhusen, The Ohio State University; Leanne M. Jablonski, Marianist Environmental Education Center
4:40 PM
 Old-time religion and cutting-edge climate: Jewish and interfaith intersections with ecological science
Fred Scherlinder Dobb, Coalition on the Environment and Jewish Life