February 2010

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
4.2 (February 2010)


1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

2. “Environmental (Dis)Locations: A Conference with Religious Imagination Exploring Environmental Justice and Climate Change” (at Yale University, New Haven, CT)

3. Call for Papers for the 2010 Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (in Atlanta, GA, USA)

4. Call for Papers for Workshop: “Aesth/Ethics in Environmental Change” (in Hiddensee, Germany)

5. Call for Papers for Conference: “Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy: Toward Ecological and Social Sustainability” (at Colby College, Waterville, ME, USA)

6. Events

7. “Copenhagen – Hopenhagen,” by Nanna Borchert

8. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology




1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally




Welcome to the February issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. We are pleased to inform you about new developments in the field of religion and ecology, including information about conferences, publications, workshops, and calls for papers. 


We would like to direct your attention to the calls for papers for the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR), which will be held on October 30 through November 1 in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. Particularly relevant for the field of religion and ecology are the calls for papers in two sections of AAR: the Religion and Ecology Group and the Animals and Religion Consultation. With the help of the people working in these sections, this conference provides many opportunities for collaboration and creative interaction with others who are working at the intersection of religious and ecological perspectives. 


As we move further into the new year, there is still much to reflect on regarding the implications of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, which took place in December 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. On this topic, we invite you to read a letter from Nanna Borchert, an ecosystem scientist who manages the “Living Environment Program” at the Sami parliament in Sweden - a government agency of the indigenous (Sami) people. Borchert focuses on the mix of hope-offering and hope-destroying perspectives present at the conference. Focusing on hope, she gives us a sense of the immense and inspiring challenges brought to light in Copenhagen. Borrowing a term that appeared on many banners from around Copenhagen, Borchert gives us a sense of “Hopenhagen.”


Like Borchert, we too find much to be hopeful about when we reflect on the Copenhagen conference. With all its uncertainties, it still marks an important step on the way to negotiating the mitigation and adaptation to climate change as a global community. Furthermore, we hope that this newsletter can bring more hopeful perspectives into your own lives, bringing you hopefulness to facilitate collaboration with others who are developing sustainable and just responses to environmental problems, hopefulness to inspire you to further your own engagements with the field of religion and ecology. 


Warm wishes,
Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

California Institute of Integral Studies

Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale

Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors






 2. “Environmental (Dis)Locations: A Conference with Religious Imagination Exploring Environmental Justice and Climate Change” (at Yale University, New Haven, CT)

The Forum on Religion and Ecology is one of the main organizers of this conference. 

Environmental (Dis)Locations: A Conference with Religious Imagination Exploring Environmental Justice and Climate Change”
Yale University
St. Thomas More Center
School of Forestry & Environmental Studies
Yale Divinity School
New Haven, CT, USA
April 8-10, 2010

This conference is free and open to the public.  Registration is required.

The conference brings together advocates for environmental justice and climate change who attempt to address global environmental problems with community-based approaches.  Environmental justice advocates have developed models of resistance to environmental racism and created models for local advocacy and political resistance.  Those working on issues of climate change have advocated for place-based ecological management schemes as a way to produce the social intelligence needed to understand and address complex environmental problems. Both groups have much to learn from each other’s approaches and this conference brings advocates of both approaches together to focus on how environmental justice communities can develop socially just steps to address climate change.  This is where the role of religion enters the conference to help participants think about how religious communities can respond to environmental racism while confronting global ecological problems. The conference features plenary talks by Carl Anthony, Robert Bullard, Dianne Dumanowski, David Orr, and Mary Evelyn Tucker.  The panelists include Anthony Leiserowitz, Nick Robinson, and Giovanna Di Chiro.  The think tank sessions, which are the heart of the conference because this is where the participants develop strategies to use in their local settings, include international leaders as Desmond D’sa and Felício Pontes.

Sponsors include the Forum on Religion and Ecology, Edward J. & Dorothy Clarke Kempf Fund, Office of the Secretary, Yale Center for Transnational Cultural Analysis, Yale Divinity School, Interdisciplinary Bioethics Center, Department of Religious Studies, Department of African American Studies, Initiative on Religion and Politics, and Middle Passage Conversations Initiative on Black Religion in the African Diaspora.

For the conference schedule, visit: http://www.yale.edu/divinity/dislocations/events.shtml  




3. Call for Papers for the 2010 Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (in Atlanta, GA, USA)


Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion

October 30 - November 1, 2010

Atlanta, GA, USA


The deadline for proposals for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion is quickly approaching. While there are many opportunities to present material about the intersection of religion and ecology, we would like to direct your attention to two opportunities in particular: 1) the Religion and Ecology Group and 2) the Animals and Religion Consultation.




Religion and Ecology Group


This Group is seeking paper and panel proposals on the following topics: 1) Environmental justice and climate change (especially religious responses to the Copenhagen meeting on climate change); 2) The contributions of Thomas Berry to the field of religion and ecology/nature; 3) The importance of emerging alternatives to the language of sustainability and stewardship; 4) The place of technology and the virtual world in an environmental ethic and/or understandings of “nature”; and 5) The ways in which evolutionary theory has changed religious understanding. Finally, we are seeking papers for a session trisponsored with the Religions, Social Conflict, and Peace Group and the Religion, Film, and Visual Culture Group on the topic of virtual worlds, embodiment, and environmental justice, and/or religiously “green” movies and environmental justice. We will also consider other paper and panel proposals. We will only consider full and complete proposals.


Deadline for submissions: March 1, 2010


Proposals must be submitted online at http://op3.aarweb.org/proposals.


Paper submission guidelines can be found here:



For more information, contact Whitney Bauman (whitneyabauman@mac.com) or A. Whitney Sanford (wsanford@ufl.edu).




Animals and Religion Consultation


This Consultation welcomes paper or preferably panel proposals on all topics related to animals and religion. Possible cosponsored panels include: 1) Animal studies and cognitive science of religion with the Cognitive Science of Religion Consultation (theorizing interdisciplinary work between primatology and religious studies, especially topics that could be linked to the work of Frans de Waal); 2) Women, animals, and religion with the Women and Religion Section (othering, personhood, and agency); and 3) Yoga and animals with the Yoga in Theory and Practice Consultation. We also welcome papers on the work of Donna Haraway, Jacques Derrida, animals as religious subjects, primatology and religious studies, religious responses to factory farming, animals and war, animals in critical theory (postcolonial, feminist, queer studies), animal narratives and religion, and children, animals, and religion.


Deadline for submissions: March 1, 2010


Proposals must be submitted online at http://op3.aarweb.org/proposals.


For more information, contact Dave Aftandilian (d.aftandilian@tcu.edu) or Aaron Gross (aaronsaulgross@gmail.com).





4. Call for Papers for Workshop: “Aesth/Ethics in Environmental Change” (in Hiddensee, Germany)

“Aesth/Ethics in Environmental Change”
Hiddensee, Germany
May 24-28, 2010

“Aesth/Ethics in Environmental Change” is an international transdisciplinary workshop joining ethics, arts, religion, and science in an attempt to reach a combined and deeper insight in nature, landscape, and its changes. 

The workshop is arranged by:
The European Forum for the Study of Religion and the Environment,
Religious Studies, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim,
Biological Station of Hiddensee, University of Greifswald,
Environmental Ethics, University of Greifswald

Oral presentations (15 min) and posters are invited on the conference theme. Abstracts (no more than 200 words) should be sent by 15 February 2010 by email to: marie.ulber@gmx.de.

For more information, visit:





5. Call for Papers for Conference: “Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy: Toward Ecological and Social Sustainability” (at Colby College, Waterville, ME, USA)

Political Ecology and Environmental Philosophy: Toward Ecological and Social Sustainability”
Colby College, Waterville, ME, USA
April 9-10, 2010

Keynote speakers:
Holmes Rolston, III
Karen Warren

Author-meets-readers Panels, featuring:
Bryan G. Norton
Joel Kovel

CALL FOR PAPERS: The Goldfarb Center and Colby College invite papers for a conference to be held April 9th and 10th at Colby College in Waterville, Maine. Now accepting submissions in the form of individual paper or panel proposals.

The Deadline for submissions is February 19, 2010.

Everyone is in favor of “sustainability,” but what does it mean? What is sustainability? What is the history of the concept? What is it that we are trying to sustain? What is the “unit” of sustainability? For whom are we trying to sustain ecologies and communities? What are our obligations for sustaining ecological communities and social resources for future generations? How can this be accomplished for different nations and communities across the globe? What are the best means to achieving ecological and social sustainability? How might global and local institutions help or hinder the prospects of sustainability? Does the tradition of “sustainable development” help or hinder them? What are the implications of projects of sustainability for environmental justice? How can environmental humanities or philosophy help the environmental sciences to clarify and make the concept of sustainability more meaningful? What can we make of sustainability as a concept, principle, and value for environmental philosophy and ecological politics? Submissions from all subfields and approaches within political ecology and environmental philosophy which further the philosophical discussion of sustainability are invited.

To submit your papers: Please include a title, an 800-1000 word proposal, your institutional affiliation, and contact information. Preformed panels should include an abstract for the panel, as well as for each paper. Special equipment requests (e.g., audiovisual) must accompany the proposal. Proposals and questions about submissions should be sent to Keith R. Peterson, keith.peterson@colby.edu.

Conference activities will be organized to minimize environmental impacts. Panels will be held in the LEED certified Diamond Building. Local and organic products will be supplied by our catering services whenever possible. A portion of the conference budget will be directed to offset the carbon-footprint of the conference.

Sponsored by the Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement at Colby College and the Colby College Philosophy Department.


For more information, visit: http://peep2010.blogspot.com/






6. Events


The National Prayer Breakfast on Creation Care”
Guest Speaker: Dr. James Hansen
Willard InterContinental Hotel, Washington DC, USA
February 22, 2010
For More Information, visit: www.NRCCC.net



Annual Meeting of the American Teilhard Association
Panel: “The Contributions of Four Teilhardians: Thomas Berry, Ewert Cousins, Fanny de Bary, and Thomas King”
Union Theological Seminary
New York, NY, USA
April 17, 2010
For more information, visit: http://www.teilharddechardin.org/events.html.




Women, Earth, and Divine Love”
Bon Secours Spiritual Center
Marriottsville, MD, USA
April 23-April 25, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.mountsaintagnes.org/



Daoism Today: Science, Health, Ecology”
6th International Conference on Daoist Studies
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, CA, USA
June 2-6, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.daoiststudies.org/dao/node/7693




Water & A Baptismal Life”

Ghost Ranch Retreat Center
Abiquiu, NM, USA
June 21 - 27, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.ghostranch.org/index.php?option=com_oscommerce&osMod=product_info&manufacturers_id=502&Itemid=199&products_id=762




Greening Our Spirits, Greening Our World”
Casa del Sol, Ghost Ranch Retreat Center
Abiquiu, NM, USA
June 28 - July 4, 2010    
For More Information, visit: http://www.ghostranch.org/index.php?option=com_oscommerce&osMod=product_info&cPath=96&Itemid=199&products_id=926






7. “Copenhagen – Hopenhagen,” by Nanna Borchert


Dear friends,


Many of you have asked me to share my impressions from the climate summit in Copenhagen in December 2009.  I sent small glimpses of fresh impressions to some of you back then, but most of you have only heard me say or write: I will tell you soon. Thus, before time will grind away my memories of these vibrant days, I will attempt to capture what seems impossible to imprison in words.


Of course, if you asked a thousand people who attended the summit, you might get at least 1001 impressions, so please keep in mind that this is a glimpse of what one single woman was able to perceive, take in, hear, see, feel. I am grateful to have participated in this gathering, grateful because it gave me a perspective of hope, a perspective of countless possibilities, of a real grassroots empowerment. Not only a confirmation of despair.


The official news you might have followed came mostly from the so called “Bella Centre”- where the political negotiations took place. The Bella Centre is situated about five kilometres outside Copenhagen. As you know, that is where THE decision makers of this planet were grappling over an agreement…(the results are known to you, I believe).


Aside from government representatives from all over the world, an incredible number of NGO representatives, indigenous peoples etc. was in the centre as well, following and trying to influence the process as much as possible. The building was hopelessly “overburdened” (ca. three times more people in the building than it is built for). I met folks daily who came back from the Bella Centre after having waited 9-10 hours at the entrance to get access…only to come home frustrated for not having been let in.


A few of my Sami colleagues were at the Bella Centre the entire two weeks of the Copenhagen Summit (December 7-18). As the Sami people are officially recognized as indigenous peoples of Scandinavia, they were part of the Swedish (resp. Norwegian, Finish) government delegations and thus were part of the negotiations at the Bella Centre. I shared a hotel room with my colleague (or rather: my boss) from the Sami parliament and learned many interesting details from her during breakfast each morning.


So all the news you might have followed were coming from “there”.


I did not spend a minute there. I attended the “People’s Climate Summit” (also called Klimaforum) in the centre of Copenhagen and it is mostly the People’s Climate Summit I refer to. I think you have received little, if any news from that event.


The Klimaforum was held in a sports centre with countless halls and meeting rooms - workshops, seminars, gatherings, presentations, film shows, exhibitions were held non-stop during the entire two weeks.


What struck me as very special was the wide spectrum of participants: There was the usual crowd of environmental activists (or rather representatives of environmental NGOs), then there were quite a few social activists, too. In addition, there were representatives of indigenous peoples from all corners of this planet, many of them had barely ever stepped foot outside their home villages. So, for once, indigenous peoples had a real role and voice in this gathering. Even more surprisingly, many different religions and spiritual traditions were represented: Sufis, Buddhists, Christians, Yogis, Muslims all partook in gatherings and presentations. Last but not least, many “back to the land” grassroots people, villagers, farmers, were around, too.


It was a mix of hope-offering events and hope-destroying events. Sometimes one felt drowned in despair, sometimes lifted with inspiration and hope. I will begin with the troubling part.


Of course, it was deeply troubling to witness first hand stories of other parts of the world where humans and animals simply die as a consequence of drastic climate and environmental changes. Thus, lots of these meetings made me sad, feeling hope-and helpless. One presentation, for example, touched me particularly strongly: a few people from different regions of Africa showed short films and told stories how the changing climate changes the environment and how that affects all beings in the region(s). They were talking about dying cows and goats, but even zebras and camels, animals that are highly adapted to drought - were dying due to the extreme droughts. It was touching enough to listen to these accounts, yet it was nearly unbearable to watch the speakers and to see their own fragility, their own bodies being barely more than bones and skin. So, one of us dared to ask: how about the people, how about you? Sure enough the answer was that, of course, people are dying, too, and those accounts went on for a good while. it seemed like all of us in the room - mostly from countries where we only theoretically know of food shortages due to droughts or other extreme weather patterns - became extremely quiet after that.


I will spare you further details. In short, it was necessary for our souls - not just mine - to find balance, to feel inspired and encouraged to keep going.


It was not hard to find that counter balance. A lot of meetings and workshops focused on “ways forward”, on possibilities to work toward positive change, to respond to this crisis by taking “respons-ibility”. very inspiring and encouraging to say the least, and of course also humbling to see all the whole hearted initiatives that are going on simply because people care - not about money or status but about surviving and about making the best of a difficult situation.


It was also encouraging to see how many workshops were held on how to communicate peacefully with each other (e.g. Non Violent Communication). It was especially meaningful as people with different backgrounds and definitely very different opinions were gathering - wanting to communicate, and to find common ground. Wanting to bridge the divide between “us” and “them”. Not an easy task! Yet to witness the commitment to try to communicate less violently with each other strengthened me.


In addition, it was fascinating to listen to workshops which addressed both “inner pollution” as well as “outer pollution”. These workshops were mostly led by spiritual leaders, addressing the fact that we can not work for change outside without caring for change inside ourselves. Nor is the opposite possible - to only work on change inside without caring about change outside. It would fill many pages if I went into detail on this subject. Instead I will just say that this was a fascinating aspect of the summit and - as we are engaging in both processes at the Sami Parliament – I felt inspired to continue on that path (though it is often considered weird or useless).


It gave me much hope - and I dare to say: joy - to see we were daring to address these issues together!


Aside from encountering and getting to know wonderful people every day, I sometimes heard my name being shouted through a hallway: NANNA!!! Only to find old friends (and/or former colleagues) from many years back. People from Australia, the US, Canada, Russia, Scandinavia, the UK, Germany, et al. It warmed my heart to see all these familiar faces in one place. I don’t think that has ever happened before.


So in between attending intensive workshops, meetings, seminars at the Klimaforum, I sometimes took a break and strolled through the city of Copenhagen, bathing in a truly unusual atmosphere: a micro cosmos of people from the whole world was moving around in the city, the streets and squares were filled with music, dance, art, colours, smells, languages, beauty, melting ice bear sculptures, flags, tents, exhibits, seminars, demonstrations (peaceful ones), meetings, sharing, declarations, celebrations, mourning …. Oh, and the linguistic diversity was striking, oftentimes one could not even guess what language was spoken, nor from what part of the world it was.


It was one big happening. The air was filled with as much hope as it was filled with despair. And I often found myself walking around with tears in my eyes, trying to reconcile the immense divide between what the human species theoretically and intellectually understands and what “its members” are (un)willing to do.


It seemed like the world’s people were convening. Looking around and listening, it became so clear that there still is a thriving and beautiful diversity of people and cultures on this planet. It was a very peaceful atmosphere, an unplanned celebration of diversity, no less a celebration of unity in all this diversity, as we were all longing for the same “resolution” and had all gathered with a common dream. To me, that was very powerful, it gave hope in spite of all the reasons to feel despair.


The last day, I was very ready to leave. By the time all the heads of 192 states arrived, Copenhagen felt like I imagine the inside of a high security prison. It was some kind of badly done Science Fiction film. Security folks seemed to have outnumbered all other people (though that seemed impossible), helicopters were humming in the air all day and night long (i.e. one could barely sleep), and tension was increasing by the hour. Bomb threats at the Central Train station were not adding to a cozy feeling either, especially considering the fact that I was  living in a hotel a stone through away from the Central Station. HOWEVER, it was astonishing how friendly and peaceful the atmosphere was in spite of big brother being omnipresent.


So, I left that buzzling place, ready for a break and LOTS of sleep. In January, I came back to Sweden - with new ideas, new coalition partners, inspired and strengthened by the existence of this self-organized, informal, yet amazingly well functioning web of people and initiatives on all five continents.


In short, it gave me hope and optimism in spite of knowing countless reasons to be pessimistic and dive into cynicism. I came home feeling stronger than ever before that we need everyone - and I mean every single one – to partake in this journey, to take full responsibility in his/her own life to come closer toward caring for our shared atmosphere, our shared planet. I am convinced that we have a chance to find a way forward - it will certainly not lay in one single big solution signed by powerful nations (though such agreements are crucial), but rather might lay in countless diverse small real initiatives - depending  on culture, context, challenge.


I will stop rambling. I hope I gave you a glimpse of Hopenhagen (which was on big banners all over town and at the Climate Summit).


With warmest wishes from a bitter cold Sweden,

Nanna Borchert


Nanna Borchert is an ecosystem scientist by training who has lived and worked in the far North (of Europe and of America) for the last 15 years. She has worked on issues regarding nature protection (specifically forest protection and sustainable forestry practices) often in combination with protection of indigenous peoples’ rights/livelihoods. She nowadays manages the “Living Environment Program” at the Sami parliament in Sweden - a government agency of the indigenous (Sami) people. To contact Nanna, email her at nanna.borchert@gmx.net.

8. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology has as its focus the relationships between religion, culture and ecology world-wide. Articles discuss major world religious traditions, such as Islam, Buddhism or Christianity; the traditions of indigenous peoples; new religious movements; and philosophical belief systems, such as pantheism, nature spiritualities, and other religious and cultural worldviews in relation to the cultural and ecological systems. Focusing on a range of disciplinary areas including Anthropology, Environmental Studies, Geography, Philosophy, Religious Studies, Sociology and Theology, the journal also presents special issues that center around one theme. For more information, visit: http://www.brill.nl/wo

For more information on other journals related to religion and ecology and to environmental ethics/philosophy, visit: http://fore.research.yale.edu/publications/journals/index.html. If you know of a publication that needs to be added to this list, email news@religionandecology.org.