Ecologists and Faith & Justice Communities: A Journey from Antagonism to Earth Stewardship Partnerships for the Next Century
Wednesday, August 12, 2015: 8:00 AM-11:30 AM
337, Baltimore Convention Center
Gregory E. Hitzhusen, The Ohio State University
Leanne M. Jablonski, Marianist Environmental Education Center; and
F. Stuart Chapin III, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Gregory F. Hitzhusen, The Ohio State University
World-wide religious attention to ecological concerns has grown substantially over the past 50 years. Diverse religious communities have developed statements and educational programs on critical issues including biodiversity, environmental justice (EJ), climate change, sustainability, land, food and water. This session reflects on the extraordinary opportunities and challenges as religions become potential major partners with ecologists for Earth Stewardship.
Pioneers and world leaders in ecology-religion studies will explore a range of visions for the future drawing from diverse religious and cultural traditions and perspectives of ecologists, social scientists and religious scholars. Speakers will also identify historic barriers, by retrospectively exploring consequences of past tensions (such as Dickson White’s 1890s notion of the “warfare of science with theology” or Lynn White’s 1960s indictment of Biblical traditions as the source of “our ecologic crisis”), while tracing important milestones in the evolution of religious perspectives on ecology and the integration of environmental concerns into their moral teachings, social policies and justice actions.
An important present symbol of the turning point moment in religion-ecology relations is Pope Francis’ encyclical letter on the environment, to be released in early 2015. It will be the most prominent religious environmental statement to date among hundreds that already exist -- from the world’s largest single religious denomination, and with a high level of authority for that tradition. It is likely to catalyze attention to a diverse range of religious environmental thinking and action for decades to come.
This session aims to inform and prepare ecologists for various ways they can understand and engage with religious partners. Speakers from religious traditions will critically examine religious values that are changing the way people relate to ecosystems, how their tradition is addressing environmental issues, and opportunities for ecologists to engage. Additionally, speakers from ecology and social science traditions will assess challenges and opportunities and propose approaches for improving collaboration towards Earth Stewardship goals.
This session builds on the work of the EJ Section over the past decade in outreach to and partnership with diverse faith and justice communities, and is intended to set vision and priorities for related EJ Section work in the coming century, including ESAs work to develop a speakers bureau and training resources for scientist outreach in faith communities. It complements a second proposed organized oral session that focuses on practice and engagement examples of ecology-religion work, and the key challenges and opportunities highlighted by cases from across traditions.