Christian Ecotheology: Text, Context, and Practice

With Matthew Riley, Ph.D.

2016 Summer Study Course

Yale Divinity School
409 Prospect St.
New Haven, CT, USA

June 13-17, 2016
9:00 -11:30

This course explores the ways in which Christianity is responding to environmental degradation. Environmental problems pose not just new challenges where humans connect with nature, but they also give rise to new social and spiritual problems. Climate change, in this regard, sets the stage for reconsidering Christianity not just in terms of practice and policies, but also in terms of the central doctrines of faith. This course interprets Christian responses to ecological problems from an interdisciplinary perspective. While we will examine the role that religious texts, ideas, and values play in shaping Christian attitudes and actions towards the environment, we will also consider the lived experiences and practical engagement of Christians facing environmental problems through conversation, multimedia, and in-class activities. Since Christianity, and the responses to environmental issues that it generates, are diverse and constantly evolving, we will also be exploratory in our learning. In this sense, students in this course will visit the Yale University Art Gallery to encounter ecological themes in Christian art and culture, engage with current students to learn about “green” practices at the intersection of faith and ecology on YDS’ campus, explore Christian texts and beliefs during a visit to the Marsh Botanical Gardens, and more. This is intended to be an introduction to a broad spectrum of issues and responses residing at the intersection of Christianity and ecology. No prior experience is necessary.


Matthew Riley, Ph.D., currently serves as a Lecturer in Christianity and Ecology at Yale Divinity School and the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies where he teaches courses on the subject of religion, ecology, and environmental ethics. Matt also teaches “Environmental Ethics” and “Religion and Ecology” in the Sherwin B. Nuland Summer Institute of Bioethics at the Yale Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics. While teaching and researching, he is engaged in building online courses in Religion and Ecology at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and works as a Research Associate at the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale. Matt also currently serves as the Reviews Editor for the journal Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology (Brill). In the past he has served as a Steering Committee Member for the Religion and Ecology Group at the American Academy of Religion, he worked for the Green Seminary Initiative, and he designed the curricular materials for the Journey of the Universe project. Broadly speaking, Matt’s scholarship approaches the field of Religion and Ecology from an interdisciplinary standpoint. His research interests include the relationship between religious ideas and environmental values as seen through the lens of ecotheology, social theory, the intersection of religion and animals broadly considered, and environmental ethics. Matt’s recent publications and dissertation focus on the legacy of Lynn T. White, Jr. For his full bio, CV, and contact information please see: