February 2011

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter

5.2 (February 2011)



1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

2. East Coast Premiere of Journey of the Universe at Yale University (March 25-26, 2011)

3. “$3 million gift pledged in support of endowed chair in religion and environmental stewardship” (Yale Divinity School - Notes from the Quad)

4. Call for Papers for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (November 19-22, 2011 in San Francisco, CA, USA)

5. Events

6. New Books

7. National Preach-in on Global Warming (February 11-13, 2011)

8. Environmental Retreat: “Beauty by Design” (March 4-6, 2011 at St. Mary’s Sewanee, TN, USA)

9. Call for Papers: “Ecospirit: Religion and the Environment” (Special Issue of Ecozon@)

10. Call for Papers: “The Future of Creation Order” (Conference at VU University Amsterdam, August 16-19, 2011)

11. 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 have much to share with you this month with regards to developments in the field of Religion and Ecology, including books, conferences, events, calls for papers, and more.

On January 3-5, several members of the Forum community participated in an international workshop in India on “Yamuna River: A Confluence of Waters, A Crisis of Need.” This workshop was organized by the Forum on Religion and Ecology and sponsored by Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and TERI University, Delhi. The first part of the workshop was held at TERI University in Delhi, and the second part was held at Radha Raman Temple in Vrindaban, India.  This interdisciplinary event gathered together specialists in science, public policy, and civil society, as well as ethics and religious studies, with the aim of addressing the condition of the Yamuna River, a river that is a goddess to millions of Hindus and is also the most polluted in India. For more information, visit:

We are happy to let you know that the Journey of the Universe film will have its premiere at Yale on March 25 and 26. See below for more information. Along with this premiere on the East Coast, there will also be premieres on the West Coast, the Midwest, and the Northwest of the United States this coming spring and fall.  Furthermore, the conclusion of the upcoming Environmental Film Festival in Washington, DC will feature a premiere of the film on March 27 at the Carnegie Institution for Science.  For more information about premieres, please visit: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org/.

The Journey of the Universe project is a collaboration of Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Swimme. This project includes a film, a book, and an educational DVD series, which will be available in June 2011.  Inspired by the New Story of Thomas Berry, a cultural historian who wrote The Universe Story with Swimme, the Journey of the Universe draws on the latest scientific knowledge to tell the story of cosmic and Earth evolution. It aims to inspire a new and closer relationship with Earth in a period of growing environmental and social crisis. For more information about the project, visit: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org.

Thomas Berry is the focus of the recent issue of Teilhard Studies by the American Teilhard Association. Written by John Grim and Mary Evelyn Tucker, Teilhard Studies #61 is titled “Thomas Berry: Reflections on His Life and Thought.” This issue is available for $4 plus postage from Tara Trapani at tcmk@aya.yale.edu. To purchase this issue, as well as to read a selection of this piece, visit: http://www.teilharddechardin.org/studies.html.

We are excited to inform you about a new endowed chair at Yale, which has been instituted to enhance the interdisciplinary study of theology and the environment. A gift from the Porter Foundation, this endowment will further collaboration between Yale Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. This endowed chair indicates the importance of responding to environmental challenges not only with science, technology, and policy, but also in light of issues involving values and morals. Mary Evelyn Tucker said, “The field of religion and ecology is growing at a rapid rate. The Porter Chair is a sign of this growth and will be the first such chair in the United States. It is an historic moment and a great contribution, not only to Yale Divinity School but to seminary education across the country and beyond. We are all deeply grateful and energized by this path-breaking news.” For full story, visit: http://www.yale.edu/divinity/notes/101201/gift.shtml

We want to direct your attention to many calls for papers that have been recently issued. The annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) is taking place in San Francisco, California, November 19-22 (http://www.aarweb.org). At the AAR, there are numerous opportunities to present papers related to the intersection of religious and ecological perspectives. In particular, many of those opportunities are sponsored by the Religion and Ecology Group and the Animals and Religion Consultation, whose respective calls for papers can be found below. We hope to see you there.

There are two other calls for papers we want to mention. First, a special issue of the peer-reviewed, online journal Ecozon@ will focus on “Ecospirit: Religion and the Environment” (www.ecozona.eu). This multilingual journal of ecocriticism is looking for scholarly articles and creative contributions that highlight interconnections between religion and environmentalism from European perspectives. See below for more information. Second, a call for papers has been issued for “The Future of Creation Order,” a Christian philosophy conference taking place at VU University Amsterdam, August 16-19, 2011 (http://www.cpc2011.org). This is an ecumenical, interdisciplinary, and international conference that aims to explore different philosophical and scientific concepts of creation order and related themes (e.g., law, structure, necessity, chance, change and emergence).  See below for more information.

We hope that this newsletter supports your own work and helps you 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. East Coast Premiere of Journey of the Universe at Yale University (March 25-26, 2011)

The Yale screenings listed below are free and open to the public, but because space is VERY limited, we ask that you send an email response to Tara Trapani at tcmk@aya.yale.edu so we can keep track of numbers.

Friday, March 25, 2011
Yale University
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Kroon Hall
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT
7pm - Showing
8pm - Panel discussion

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Yale University
Peabody Museum
170 Whitney Avenue, New Haven, CT
1pm - Showing

Saturday, March 26, 2011
Yale University
School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
Kroon Hall
195 Prospect Street, New Haven, CT
5:30pm - Showing

For more information, visit: http://www.journeyoftheuniverse.org



3. ”$3 million gift pledged in support of endowed chair in religion and environmental stewardship” (Yale Divinity School – Notes from the Quad) 

A gift pledge of $3 million will endow a joint senior faculty appointment between Yale Divinity School/Berkeley Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental studies in honor of H. Boone Porter ’45 B.A., ’50 S.T.B., ’96 M.E.S., ’97 D.D. and his wife, Violet M. Porter.

The endowment promises to substantially enhance the interdisciplinary study of theology and the environment that has taken hold at Yale in recent years, culminating in the establishment of a joint degree program.  The gift, finalized on Nov. 29, comes from the children of the Porters through the Porter Foundation. Boone Porter, who died in 1999, was a scholar, priest, writer, and environmentalist, and both he and his wife had a particularly significant impact on the life of the Episcopal Church. […]

Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said, “This gift from the Porter Foundation will ensure that the collaboration that has developed in recent years between Yale Divinity School and the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies will continue and expand into an even more fruitful partnership.   The environmental challenges that we face involve not only scientific and technical issues, but also issues of fundamental values and moral commitments.”

Peter Crane, dean of the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, said, “We are delighted and humbled by the commitment of the Porter family and truly excited by the new opportunity to further develop the already-strong connections between religion and environmental stewardship at Yale.”

For full story, visit:




4. Call for Papers for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (November 19-22, 2011 in San Francisco, CA, USA)

Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion
November 19-22, 2011
San Francisco, CA, USA

The deadline for proposals for the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion is March 1, 2011. 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 seeks papers on the following topics:

* Religious environmental imaginations, histories, and movements relating to San Francisco and California such as radical environmentalism in the West (e.g., Edward Abbey and Earth First!), bioregionalism, eco-utopias, revisiting John Muir’s religiosity, queer ecologies, and ecology and disaster

* The ecological in-between — exploring our relationships with everyday technology, exploring the ambiguous ethical stance of living toward a different ecological future from within consumer worlds, exploring the concept of “saving nature” while recognizing that nature is always in transformation, and exploring pets, working animals, gardens, and other nonhuman identities “in between” domestic/cultivated and wild

* Ecological hermeneutics, ecosemiotics, and ecocriticism (for a possible cosponsored session with the SBL Ecological Hermeneutics Section) — multireligious, critical reflection on the ecohermeneutics of religious texts (such as the ecobible series); race, gender, and the hermeneutics of “nature”; and the “environmental movement”

Mission: This Group critically and constructively explores how human–Earth relations are shaped by religions, cultures, and understandings of nature and the environment. We are self-consciously inter- and multidisciplinary and include methods such as those found in the work of theologians, philosophers, religionists, ethicists, scientists, and anthropologists, among others.

Proposals are anonymous to Chairs and Steering Committee Members during review, but visible to Chairs prior to final acceptance or rejection.

Method of Submission: OP3: http://op3.aarweb.org/

Deadline: March 1, 2011


AAR Animals & Religion Consultation

The Animals & Religion Consultation welcomes paper or panel proposals on all topics related to animals and religion. We especially seek proposals on the following topics:

– The significance of Donna Haraway’s critical thinking about animals, science, and technology for religious studies (for a possible cosponsored session with the Science, Technology, and Religion Group); if you are interested in proposing a paper on this topic, please contact Laura Hobgood-Oster at hoboster@southwestern.edu

– Animals beyond sacrifice in Hindu and/or Jewish traditions (for a possible cosponsored session with the Comparative Studies in Hinduisms and Judaisms Group)

– Womanist approaches to animals and religion

– Animals in classical traditions

– Animals, religion, and literature

– Animal-assisted therapy and religion

– Martha Nussbaum’s capabilities approach to animals

– Critical theory and pragmatic engagement with animals

– Death and dying, animals, and religion

– How attention to animals can address environmental crises

Method of Submission: OP3: http://op3.aarweb.org/

Deadline: March 1, 2011

If you have any questions, please contact one or both of the Animals & Religion Consultation co-chairs:

Dave Aftandilian
Texas Christian University

Aaron Gross
University of San Diego



5. Events

Dimensions of Political Ecology: Conference on Nature-Society”
Keynote Speaker: Paul Robbins
University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, USA
February 18-19, 2011

International Conference on the Impact of Climate Change on Food Security”
Mavelikara, Kerala, India
March 3-5, 2011

Valuing Lives: A Conference on Ethics in Health and the Environment”
New York University
New York, NY, USA
March 5, 2011

The Culture of Climate Change”
The 10th Annual Nature Ecology Society Colloquium at the CUNY Graduate Center
New York, NY, USA
March 10-11, 2011

“Service-Learning for Sustainability and Social Justice”
Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, TX, USA
March 31-April 1, 2011

American Teilhard Association Annual Meeting
“Darwin, Teilhard, and the Drama of Life”
Speaker: John Haught
Union Theological Seminary, New York, NY, USA
May 14, 2011

Animals as Religious Subjects: A Transdisciplinary Conference”
Hosted by the European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment
University of Chester, UK
May 21-24, 2011

Technology and Security”
17th International Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology (SPT)
University of North Texas, Denton, TX, USA
May 26-29, 2011



6. New Books

Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Dialogues with a Warming North
By Timothy Leduc
University of Ottawa Press, 2011

In his new book Climate, Culture, Change, Timothy Leduc seeks to understand the Inuit experience of climate change by stepping outside of the current scientific and political debates about global warming. What he finds is that today’s climate changes are affecting not just our environments, but also our cultures. He feels that the current discussion of climate change must embrace an intercultural dialogue that includes Inuit and Western perspectives. His detailed research effectively highlights the challenges facing Western climate research, Canadian politics and traditional Inuit knowledge.

Climate, Culture, Change sheds light on the cultural challenges posed by northern warming and proposes an intercultural response that is demonstrated by the blending of Inuit and Western perspectives.

Timothy B. Leduc is assistant professor of the Faculty of Environmental Studies at York University.


Tryst with Trees: Punjab’s Sacred Heritage
By D.S. Jaspal
Thomson Press, 2010

Sikhism is the only religion which has over 58 sacred and historical shrines that are named after 19 species of trees.

Tryst with Trees is a pictorial documentation of 58 sacred Sikh shrines named after 19 species of trees. Through some very striking pictures, this book brings out the sanctity in which devotees hold trees and the central role of nature in religious preaching and practices.

Tryst with Trees includes a description of the botanical features of the tree with its health status as well as the relationship between the tree and the historical and religious background of the shrine. In a larger context, the book explores the profound impact of nature and the environment on the spiritual, social and cultural evolution of Sikhism

This book has been compiled after personal visits by D.S. Jaspal to every Sikh shrine named after species of trees. It took nearly 3 years to cover more than 58 shrines, mostly in Punjab, but also in Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Leh, Orissa and across the border in Pakistan.

Though the naming of sacred shrines after species of trees is unique to the Sikh religion, the relevance of this message is not specific or limited to Sikhism as love and respect for nature are common to every religious faith.


Down to Earth: Religious Paths toward Custodianship of Nature
By Clifford Chalmers Cain
University Press of America, 2009

Down to Earth scientifically describes the multitude of environmental problems besetting planet earth and indicates why these environmental problems are, at their root, a spiritual or religious challenge. Simply learning about the scientific description of these environmental threats will not be sufficient to solve them, the author argues, for attitudes must be changed and behavioral patterns must be altered. This need for change invariably confronts the core values that we hold and the routine actions that we undertake. Through an examination of the worldviews and sacred texts of eight spiritual traditions, we learn of the common insights and powerful resources that these world religions can offer. The author believes that it is necessary to join an ecological conscience to an ecological consciousness for humans to exercise custodianship of nature both responsibly and sustainably.

Clifford Chalmers Cain is professor of philosophy and religion at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana. Cain holds two doctoral degrees and has written books and scholarly articles in the fields of contemporary theology, ecology, religion, and science.


An Ecological Theology: Reunderstanding Our Relation to Nature
By Clifford Chalmers Cain
Edwin Mellen Press, 2009

This study examines the historical roots of “hierarchical dualism,” the dominant attitude characterizing the Western approach toward nature which both separates humans from, and elevates them above, nature, allowing for exploitation of resources. This work advocates a new approach in which humans view the natural world as a community entrusted to humanity by God.

7. National Preach-in on Global Warming (February 11-13, 2011)

Interfaith Power & Light is inviting faith leaders to give sermons and reflections on global warming the weekend of February 11-13, 2011. Registration is now open. Upon completion of the registration process, multiple resources are made available. These resources include:

* Lectionary guides for the Jewish Torah cycle and many Christian lectionaries

* Multi-faith devotional and reflection guides

* Scripture study guides

* Bulletin inserts

* Activities for children and youth.

In addition to sermons, or as an alternative, we are encouraging congregations to screen films and host discussions on putting faith into action. Resources are available to those who register, including a film, fact sheets on current legislation, and discussion guides.


8. Environmental Retreat: “Beauty by Design” (March 4-6, 2011 at St. Mary’s Sewanee, TN, USA)

This retreat is presented by St. Mary’s Sewanee & the Center for Religion and Environment Sewanee: The University of the South.  The retreat will be held at St. Mary’s Sewanee Retreat Center and led by Center staff Robin Gottfried and Sr. Madeleine Mary. 

Have you ever experienced a moment when a mountain vista or brook spoke to your soul, or when a piece of music or painting called out to you? This retreat explores the theology of Beauty and its implications for ethics, for how we live our daily lives and structure our society. Everything we do alters the world about us. What sort of world do we build? What are the implications of Beauty and our response to it for salvation? for spreading the Good News? for how we make things and get to work? for our spiritual life? To address these questions the retreat will offer presentations, small group discussions, and focused times of individual prayer and reflection. Come prepared to spend some time outside. 

For more information, visit: http://www.stmaryssewanee.org/programs/2011Mar4.shtml



9. Call for Papers: “Ecospirit: Religion and the Environment” (Special Issue of Ecozon@)

As Guest-Editor for the Autumn 2011 issue of Ecozon@, I am currently putting together a Special Focus Section devoted to the topic of “Ecospirit: Religion and the Environment.” Ecozon@ is the peer-reviewed, online journal of the multilingual EASCLE or European Association for the Study of Literature, Culture and the Environment (the European hub of the ecocritical community).

We are still welcoming original submissions in English, French, and German, most especially submissions highlighting the interconnection between religion and environmentalism from a European perspective. 

Submissions should be peer-review-ready in the form of academic papers with a limit of 6,000 words, together with a 300 word (maximum) abstract both in Spanish and English. Besides scholarly papers, publication of a limited number of creative contributions is also planned.

Contributions must be submitted online for peer review, following the submission guidelines from the website: www.ecozona.eu.

The deadline for submission of articles is March 15, 2011.

Interested scholars are also welcome to write in the first instance to me as Guest-Editor at fbellars@ulb.ac.be, enclosing a short preliminary abstract.

In the hope that this CFP will be of interest to those of you working at the intersections between ecocriticism and religious studies, I also seize this opportunity to send you all my very best wishes for 2011.

Dr. Franca Bellarsi
Université Libre de Bruxelles



10. Call for Papers: “The Future of Creation Order” (Conference at VU University Amsterdam, August 16-19, 2011)

The Future of Creation Order”
Christian Philosophy Conference
VU University Amsterdam
August 16-19, 2011

People of all times have experienced the world of nature as expressing an overwhelming beauty, coherence and order. In the great monotheistic traditions this beauty, coherence and order have been related to the will or nature of a Creator. This idea has come under considerable pressure from different directions: evolutionary theory with its emphasis on the deep contingency of the living world, social science and in particular historicist and postmodernist strands in it, and philosophical critiques inspired by Marxism, Nietzschean perspectivism, existentialism, critical theory, social constructivism, and postmodernism have all served to  subvert traditional conceptions of order.

The challenge for this ecumenical, interdisciplinary, and international conference is to explore whether there is room, still, for a distinction between something like an ontological affirmation of pre-given norms and ordering principles in various domains, while also acknowledging the particularity and ‘locatedness’ of our access to those norms and principles. Key ideas in this dialogue will be order, law, structure, principle, system, necessity, chance, change and emergence. The goal of the conference is to delve deeper into the current condition of the philosophical concept of (creation) order, and to assess its future trajectories and prospects. 

We cordially invite thinkers from all different philosophical and scientific traditions to submit a 500 word abstract on any topic relevant to the conference theme. Please prepare your abstract for anonymous review. Abstracts may be submitted by e-mail (as plain text, MS Word, Pages, or pdf files) to info@cpc2011.org or by regular mail (consult http://www.cpc2011.org for the address).

Abstracts should be submitted to the conference organizers by March 1, 2011.

11. 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.



For the archive of previous Forum newsletters, visit: