The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
4.7 (July 2010)
1. Editorial, by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally
3. Theory, Culture & Society Special Issue on Changing Climates
4. “Seeing the World Anew: A Framework for a Renewed Economy,” by Maria Riley, O.P.
5. Call for Papers: “Animals as Religious Subjects: A Transdisciplinary Conference” (May 21-24, 2011 at the University of Chester, UK)
6. “‘Follow the Islamic way to save the world,’ Prince Charles urges environmentalists,” by Rebecca English
7. “Dialogue between Inuit and Western Perspectives on Climate Change,” by Timothy B. Leduc
8. Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
Welcome to the July issue of the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology. We are happy to share with you a lot of interesting news about some recent and upcoming developments in the field of religion and ecology, including information about conferences, journals, calls for papers, and much more.
As the challenges of global climate change are becoming increasingly evident, individuals and communities are showing how religious and moral perspectives can aid the development of responses to those challenges and facilitate strategies to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change. Along these lines, we are pleased to inform you about the recent publication of a special issue of the journal Theory, Culture & Society. This issue focuses on climate change, particularly with respect to the importance of including social and cultural perspectives in responses to climate change and to its various technological, economic, and political challenges.
To view this issue, visit: http://tcs.sagepub.com/current.dtl
There are many religious communities that are developing responses to climate change, including indigenous communities such as the Inuit. We want to share with you a piece written by Timothy Leduc, a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Environment. Leduc provides a narrative account of some of the voices included in the research he gathered for his book entitled Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Knowledges in Dialogue with Northern Warming (forthcoming from the University of Ottawa Press). Leduc’s work indicates the immense importance of engaging issues of climate change in a way that is interdisciplinary, intercultural, and inclusive of religious worldviews and indigenous ways of knowing.
We also want to inform you about a recent speech given by Prince Charles, who urges environmentalists to include spiritual perspectives in addressing environmental problems. More specifically, Prince Charles focused on Islam and its vision of the interconnectedness that ties humans together with the natural world. By cultivating a sense of such interconnectedness, humans can learn to live within their environmental limits and cease being a destructive presence within the Earth community. Please see below for a news article of his speech as well as links to other articles and to the full text of the speech itself.
Another notable document comes from the Center of Concern (COC), a faith-based organization in Washington, D.C. founded by the Jesuits that works with Catholic social tradition to create a more just and sustainable world. Maria Riley has written a piece that outlines a framework of the COC’s vision for the future. She describes the social and environmental crises that the Earth community is currently facing, and she shows how those crises have roots in a worldview that promotes consumerism and limitless economic development at the expense of human and environmental health and well-being. To build a better tomorrow requires a shift in worldviews, a shift that would support an economy that promotes care for creation by drawing on many voices, including those of Catholic Social Thought, feminist political economics , and ecological economics.
Finally, we want to direct your attention to a call for papers for an exciting conference, “Animals as Religious Subjects: A Transdisciplinary Conference,” which will be held at the University of Chester in the UK, May 21-24, 2011. The conference is being organized by the European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment, and it will include papers from a wide variety of disciplines, including perspectives from philosophy, religions, sciences, and the humanities. For more information, please visit: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.philos-l/browse_thread/thread/4f91823b173ff33e.
It is our hope that, by sharing all of this information with you, you will find many sources of inspiration and many opportunities for becoming more engaged in the sort of interdisciplinary and multicultural efforts outlined in this newsletter, efforts to bring religious and ecological perspectives into dialogue to create a more peaceful, just, and sustainable Earth community.
Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally
California Institute of Integral Studies
Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale
Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors
Lecture by Dr. Vandana Shiva
The Academy of Natural Sciences
1900 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Philadelphia, PA 19102, USA
July 14, 2010, 6:00 pm
For More Information, visit: http://shivaearthdemocracy.eventbrite.com/
“Thomas Berry and the Great Work of Our Time”
Summer Institute at Sophia Center in Culture & Spirituality
Holy Names University, Oakland, CA, USA
July 15-18, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.hnu.edu/sophia/
“The Great Work: Making It Personal”
Post Institute Retreat
Summer Institute at Sophia Center in Culture & Spirituality
Holy Names University, Oakland, CA, USA
July 18-20, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.hnu.edu/sophia/
“Christianity and Vegetarianism: Nature, Creation and the Peaceable Kingdom”
Leeds Humanities Research Institute
Clarendon House, 29-31 Clarendon Place, Leeds, UK
August 14-15, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/arts/info/20045/leeds_humanities_research_institute
“God, Humanity and the Cosmos”
The Queen’s Foundation, Birmingham, United Kingdom
September 4, 2010
For more details and registration form, visit: http://www.srforum.org/
“Nature and Human Nature”
Consciousness and Experiential Psychology Section
Annual Conference of the British Psychological Society
St. Anne’s College, Oxford
September 10-12, 2010
For More Information, visit: http://www.bps.org.uk/
Edited by Bronislaw Szerszynski and John Urry
March/May 2010, Volume 27, No. 2-3
“Changing Climates: Introduction,” by Bronislaw Szerszynski and John Urry
“Reading and Writing the Weather: Climate Technics and the Moment of Responsibility,” by Bronislaw Szerszynski
“Volatile Worlds, Vulnerable Bodies: Confronting Abrupt Climate Change,” by Nigel Clark
“Indifferent Globality: Gaia, Symbiosis and ‘Other Worldliness’,” by Myra J. Hird
“Biopolitical Economies and the Political Aesthetics of Climate Change,” by Kathryn Yusoff
“Anti-reflexivity: The American Conservative Movement’s Success in Undermining Climate Science and Policy,” by Aaron M. McCright and Riley E. Dunlap
“Climate Change, Social Theory and Justice,” by Bradley C. Parks and J. Timmons Roberts
“Turbulent Worlds: Financial Markets and Environmental Crisis,” by Melinda Cooper
“Consuming the Planet to Excess,” by John Urry
“Apocalypse Forever?: Post-political Populism and the Spectre of Climate Change,” by Erik Swyngedouw
“A New Climate for Society,” by Sheila Jasanoff
“Climate for Change, or How to Create a Green Modernity?” by Ulrich Beck
“Cosmopolitan Climates: Hybridity, Foresight and Meaning,” by Mike Hulme
“Social Theory and Climate Change: Questions Often, Sometimes and Not Yet Asked,” by Elizabeth Shove
“Strange Weather, Again: Climate Science as Political Art,” by Brian Wynne
To read these papers, visit: http://tcs.sagepub.com/current.dtl
Center of Concern, May 2010
Abstract: Contemporary crises in finance, the economy, care, hunger, migration, energy and climate change are the interrelated signs revealing the failure of the dominant Neoliberal approach to development over the last 3 decades. This paper analyzes the roots of these crises and lays out a vision of a way forward that promises healing, renewal and greater justice for all peoples and Earth. It provides the framework for the Center’s programming into the future.
Table of Contents:
A Time of Reckoning
Roots of the Crises
A Way Forward – From Critique to Alternatives
From Growth to Development
From Consumerism to Human Well-being
From Quantity to Quality - Production and Job Creation
The Centrality of Care
For Individuals and Households
To Renew Earth
Investing in the Future
Appendix I – Catholic Social Thought
Appendix II – Feminist political economics
Appendix III – Eco-economics
To download the paper, visit: http://www.coc.org/node/6539
The European Forum for the Study of Religion and Environment invites short papers around the theme of Animals as Religious Subjects. The first public lecture will be at Chester University (www.chester.ac.uk) on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The remainder of the conference will be held at St Deiniol’s residential library www.st-deiniols.com in Hawarden.
Papers are invited from a range of disciplines, including but not limited to aesthetic, anthropological, archaeological, ethical, historical, natural scientific, philosophical, sociological, theological, and zoological perspectives.
Abstracts should be 350 words maximum with a clear title and summary of arguments to be used.
Deadline for Submission of Abstracts: January 10, 2011
Papers should be submitted to the chair of the conference committee at email@example.com
For More Information, visit: http://groups.google.com/group/fa.philos-l/browse_thread/thread/4f91823b173ff33e
June 10, 2010
Prince Charles yesterday urged the world to follow Islamic ‘spiritual principles’ in order to protect the environment.
In an hour-long speech, the heir to the throne argued that man’s destruction of the world was contrary to the scriptures of all religions - but particularly those of Islam.
He said the current ‘division’ between man and nature had been caused not just by industrialisation, but also by our attitude to the environment - which goes against the grain of ‘sacred traditions’.
Charles, who is a practising Christian and will become the head of the Church of England when he succeeds to the throne, spoke in depth about his own study of the Koran which, he said, tells its followers that there is ‘no separation between man and nature’ and says we must always live within our environment’s limits.
The prince was speaking to an audience of scholars at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies - which attempts to encourage a better understanding of the culture and civilisation of the religion.
His speech, merging religion with his other favourite subject, the environment, marked the 25th anniversary of the organisation, of which he is patron.
He added: ‘The inconvenient truth is that we share this planet with the rest of creation for a very good reason - and that is, we cannot exist on our own without the intricately balanced web of life around us.
‘Islam has always taught this and to ignore that lesson is to default on our contract with creation.’
Read the complete speech here:
Before graduating with a Ph.D. in Environmental Studies from York University, I completed a Masters in Social Work and worked for a number of years in indigenous communities on Canada’s northeast coast. It was here that I first realized the extent to which my Canadian education was contrasted, and often in conflict, with indigenous ways of living and thinking. This experience left me with questions about the relation between colonialism, social violence and environmental issues that continued to reverberate as I began my doctorate. In this research, I bring Inuit cultural views of today’s northern warming into intercultural dialogue with Western climate research, such as is epitomized in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. These analyses were complemented with various religious, anthropological and ethical discourses that informed a critique of Western climate responses. The dissertation has been transformed into a book entitled Climate, Culture, Change: Inuit and Western Knowledges in Dialogue with Northern Warming that will be published by the University of Ottawa Press in Fall 2010. As well, excerpts of the book have been published in the journals Climatic Change, Worldviews, Ethics and the Environment, and Ecological Economics. In this short introduction, I will give you a feel for the voices that were included in my research and some of the implications highlighted in my book.
With today’s northern warming being described by some climate researchers as a global “canary in the mine,” it seemed relevant to the Canadian context of my research to engage Inuit in a discussion about the cultural relevance of today’s changes. Many of the Inuit who I talked with discussed the north’s warming in a way that connected it to their fairly recent colonial experience. Such perspectives surrounded my writing with questions about the historic influence of various Western traditions on climate change, including Christian, economic and political missions which arrived in the north over the past hundred-and-fifty years. It challenges the common political view of climate change as a contemporary issue related solely to unsustainable energy practices. Consequently, my research and writing connects climate change to not only a host of interrelated environment al challenges, but also the social impacts of colonialism – all of which successively emerged in the north as Inuit-Canadian relations intensified over the twentieth century.
Though my background as an environmental researcher means that the book is primarily informed by interdisciplinary analyses rather than an ethnographic exploration of northern warming, the need to ensure that I was not objectifying Inuit understandings required me to follow anthropologists like George Wenzel and Julie Cruikshank into dialogue with Inuit. Particularly important in this regard were four years of correspondence on climate change and Inuit Qaujimatuqangit (or Knowledge) with Jaypeetee Arnakak, an Inuit philosopher and policy analyst whom I met in 2003 after he lectured at a “Sovereignty, Indigenous Knowledges and Environment” speaker series.
Other prominent Inuit voices in the book include eight hunters from Chesterfield Inlet on the Hudson Bay northwest coast who partook in a climate change workshop, and written documents from the Inuit Circumpolar Council and its former Chair Sheila Watt-Cloutier. I tried to grasp an Inuit Qaujimatuqangit view of climate change by bringing these voices into dialogue with interdisciplinary climate research. Through these voices, I reconsider the dominant scientific and political economic discourses on climate change from the perspective of various Inuit concepts and stories.
A quick look at once concept can provide a feel for the interdisciplinary, intercultural and religious dimensions of my research. Much of my early correspondence with Jaypeetee Arnakak centered on the relevance of Sila, often translated as weather, to northern warming. Trying to give me a broad sense of this term, he described Sila as an ever-moving and immanent force that surrounds and permeates Inuit life, with it most often being experienced in the weather. Contrasting his IQ view of Sila, the knowledge I brought to our dialogues derived from two largely divided academic disciplines. At one end were Inuit ethnographies that began in the opening decades of the twentieth century with researchers like Knud Rasmussen. While journeying across the Canadian Arctic in search of Inuit worldviews, Sila was described to him by various shamans and elders as “a strong spirit, the upholder of the universe, of the weather, in fact all life on earth.” Ethnographic sources like his have depicted Sila as the spirit of the air, a mystic power permeating all of existence and a god-like “Supreme Being.” Also informing my knowledge was the more recent climate research with Inuit on northern warming that consistently refers to Sila as a direct translation for weather. These diverging disciplinary interpretations of Sila reflect a significant issue that can block our appreciation of not only pre-colonial Inuit understandings of the north, but what such an indigenous view can offer Western research as it struggles with a response to those greenhouse gases that highlight humanity’s spirited connection to the planet’s climate. In much the same spirit as these dialogues with Inuit, my present research is concerned with building global networks that will add intercultural views on regional changes to climate research. I am currently doing this research as a Post-doctoral Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Centre for Environment.
Timothy B. Leduc, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
University of Toronto, Canada
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.