November 2008

The Forum on Religion and Ecology Newsletter
2.11 (November 2008)


1. Editorial by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally   

2. 10th Anniversary of the Forum

3. Interfaith Climate Summit 

4. From the Field: “Water and World Historical Processes,” by Terje Oestigaard 

5. Focus on the Web: Syllabi 

6. Resource Information Sheet 

7. New Booklet: The Church and Climate Change 

8. New Journal: Journal of Human Rights and the Environment 

9. Call for Papers: “Converging Technologies, Changing Societies”  

10. Worldviews and Other Journals



1. Editorial by Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally


Dear Forum Colleagues,


Greetings!  Welcome to the newsletter for the Forum on Religion and Ecology.  This is the November issue of our newsletter, which has been delayed in being sent out due to some technical difficulties.  For many involved in the field of religious studies, the month of November is associated with the annual meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR).  The meeting this year was held in Chicago, Illinois, in close proximity to the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan.  We had the pleasure of attending this year’s meeting, and we are happy to report that the field of religion and ecology was well represented.  There were many panels and presentations addressing the place of religion and ecology in a variety of topics, including climate change, sustainability, sacred places, animals, feminism, ritual, vegetarianism, religious environmentalism, and much more.  We thoroughly enjoyed all of the panels and presentations that we attended.  It is very exciting to see so much work being done in the field of religion and ecology, including work by scholars who are opening up new directions for research in the field.  Such new directions were particularly evident in the panel on “New Dimensions in Religion and Ecology,” which featured four emerging scholars whose respective research projects help them explore new possibilities for engaging the complex relationships between religious worldviews and various perspectives on ecology, nature, and environmentalism.  Along with panels and presentations, there was also a tour of the Calumet region of Chicago (organized by Dave Aftandilian of Texas Christian University), which was quite informative on issues of toxic dumping, decades of industrial development, and community endurance, survival, and environmental resistance.   


It is important to note that the presence of religion and ecology at the AAR was not restricted to academic thinking and research.  Although there was much academic rigor, there was also a sense of community among those involved directly or indirectly with the Forum.  Amidst many handshakes, hugs, shared meals, and stimulating conversations, we saw how religion and ecology is not simply a field of study, but is also a matter of personal connections and face to face relationships.  With a Forum luncheon, a religion and ecology reception, and many discussions during and between presentations, the AAR provided time for new introductions to be made and for longtime friendships to be rejuvenated.  It provided time for everyone in the Forum community to share some of their past, present, and future engagements with the intersection of religion and ecology.  Mary Evelyn Tucker gave an apt description of this intersection in her talk, “Where Religion and Ecology Meet: The Field and The Force.” She described the intersection of religion and ecology as one where religious ecology, an emerging “field” of interdisciplinary study, meets with the actions that comprise the “force” of religious environmentalism.  At the intersection of religion and ecology, the field meets the force, theory meets practice, and academic research meets a sense of community.            

We have much to share with you in the newsletter for this month, including information about new and upcoming publications, a call for papers, a conference announcement, and a new compilation of resources for educators working with religion and ecology.  We are also happy to include an announcement of the 10th anniversary of the Forum.  We have invited Terje Oestigaard to write a short piece about his work with a research group studying the history of water.  Dr. Oestigaard is studying the way in which religious ideas, perceptions, and uses of water in England ca. 1500-1800 relate to the social and development processes that took place during this period. 


We hope that you enjoy this issue of the newsletter and that you find this information useful in your endeavors with the intersection of religion and ecology.


Sam Mickey & Elizabeth McAnally

Forum on Religion and Ecology

Web Content Managers & Newsletter Editors

2. 10th Anniversary of the Forum


On Tuesday November 18, 2008, the Forum on Religion and Ecology celebrated its 10th Anniversary in New York at the Yale Club with 175 people in attendance. An afternoon symposium on world religions and ecology was followed by a premiere of sections of the new film Journey of the Universe. A gala dinner followed at which Gus Speth, Dean of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, spoke along with Martin Kaplan of the Germeshausen Foundation and the V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation. The Forum was first announced in October 1998 at a press conference at the United Nations. This event was followed by an afternoon symposium at the UN, and the next day a conference was held at the American Museum of Natural History.


For further information on the anniversary event, see:




 3. Interfaith Climate Summit

One of the most important international events in world religions and ecology was the recent Interfaith Climate Summit in Uppsala, Sweden on November 28-29, 2008. 

It was convened by the Church of Sweden, and the Forum on Religion and Ecology assisted in the planning of the meeting.  A statement was signed by religious leaders including Hava Tirosh Samuelson, the editor of the volume on Judaism and Ecology, and Rosemary Ruether, the editor of the volume on Christianity and Ecology.


The Summit had an estimated 1,000 people in attendance, and included lectures and seminars with participants from different religious traditions and different continents.  Among those participating in the summit was Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006 for work with microcredits and the Grameen bank (for more, see:  The Summit engaged many issues surrounding global climate change from multiple religious perspectives with the aim of influencing the world’s political leaders and the negotiations of future global climate agreements (such as the Copenhagen Agreement).   


For More Information, visit:



4. From the Field: “Water and World Historical Processes,” by Terje Oestigaard


In 2008/2009 Professor Terje Tvedt leads the international and inter-disciplinary research group “Understanding the role of water in history and development” at The Centre for Advanced Study (CAS) at the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters, The overall aim is to address why the initial phases of the industrial revolution (c. 1760s-1820s) took place in Northwest Europe in general and in England in particular. With the industrial revolution the “West” got an economic lead which has structured the world since, but at the outset it was not obvious that the industrial revolution should first develop in the Northern parts of Europe and not in for instance China or India.


The research project focuses on the role of water systems in these developments. The participants in the project address the overall question from different approaches and disciplines, which include history, geography, sociology, ethnography, archaeology and natural sciences. This project aims therefore to investigate and highlight the role of water in society and historical processes, which has previously been emphasised in for instance Tvedt, T. & Oestigaard, T. (eds.). A History of Water Vol. 3. The World of Water (2006) and A History of Water Vol. 4. The Ideas of Water from Antiquity to Modern Times (2009) published by I.B.Tauris, London and New York.


In the project “Understanding the role of water in history and development”, my sub-project focuses on religious perceptions, beliefs and uses of holy water in England after the Reformation during the period ca. 1500-1800. The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in Europe have been seen as the ‘Golden Age of Faith’. Max Weber argued in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism that Protestantism created a capitalistic spirit and that the great historic development of religions took place when magic was eliminated from the world, which included the sacramental force as a means for salvation. If Weber is correct in his thesis, then the replacement of the sacraments with predestination should be most thoroughly in England since the industrial revolution started there. Puritanism encouraged work rather than works, and this has a particular relevance with regards to holy water as a sacrament.


The Reformation emphasised justification by faith alone. Water was stripped for any holiness, which involved both the water used in baptism and the water in holy wells. If these waters had any spiritual or healing qualities and powers, it became evidence of diabolic presence. Consequently, after the Reformation the church combated all kinds of magical superstition, which often was materialised in water. The questions then are: 1) how successful was the Reformation with regards to denying that the sacraments had any material role and could work automatically? and 2) were the Protestants able to de-sacralise holy water?


Despite Weber’s claim that the Protestant ethic and the spirit of capitalism emphasised work rather than works, beliefs in holy water and the power of water survived and defined important parts of the religious practices in England after the Reformation. In particular the water cult of holy wells was pervasive on the British Islands. The total number of holy wells in Great Britain and Ireland amount to some 8000, and a conservative estimate for England is 2000, and the water cult has continued even up to today. Hence, the aim with this sub-project is to analyse the religious ideas and uses of water and how this relates to social and development processes leading to the industrial revolution in England.


Terje Oestigaard



5. Focus on the Web: Syllabi


We would like to draw your attention to the “Syllabi” section of the Forum website. You can find this section at the following address:


This section of the website contains numerous syllabi from various educators who have taught courses related to themes of religion and ecology. We encourage you to explore these syllabi when designing your own courses or for your own personal reference. Furthermore, we ask that you consider submitting any relevant syllabi from courses that you have taught. You can send your syllabi to us at



6. Resource Information Sheet


We are happy to inform you about a new collection of references and resources for educators in the field of religion and ecology. This Resource Information Sheet is in the form of an Excel document, which contains information about a variety of resources: films, youth books, songbooks, posters, magazine issues, building resources, study guides, and resources for congregations and clergy.  This document was compiled by Frederica Ghesquiere for Interfaith Power and Light.  We extend them our thanks for letting us post this document on the Forum website. 


You can find a link to the Resource Information Sheet at the following address:



7. New Booklet: “The Church and Climate Change”


We are pleased to announce the recent publication of a booklet by Ernst M. Conradie titled “The Church and Climate Change.”


Global warming and its effects on the climate which will impact every continent and every person, especially Africa and its peoples, has emerged as a key sign of the times of the early 21st century. Thus it is fitting that “The Church and Climate Change” is the first volume in the Signs of the Times series of Cluster Publications.


Ernst Conradie surveys the scientific facts as they are emerging today about the causes and effects of global warming and climate change. He parses the “church” into six different dimensions, ranging from the individual believer to denominational structures, and describes the possible responses of each one.


A new set of values, which are rooted in the Gospel of Jesus, can give hope and energy for action, the first of which is the need for confession and repentance for what we are doing to Earth, our only home. Christians must gather with all people of good will to discern this sign of the times and act together to save and sustain Earth.


For more information about this booklet, visit the website of Cluster Publications:



8. New Journal: Journal of Human Rights and the Environment


A new journal that may be of interest to members of the Forum community is beginning the process of publication.  Edward Elgar Publishing Limited will be publishing its Journal of Human Rights and the Environment in early 2010.


The relationship between human rights and the environment is a fascinating, uneasy, and increasingly urgent one. This new international journal provides a strategic academic forum in which an extended interdisciplinary and multilayered conversation can take place concerning the challenges located at the interface of these two centrally important fields.


Topics of upcoming issues include the following:


Issue 1: Where Discourses Meet

Issue 2: Climate Change

Issue 3: Ontological Vulnerability

Issue 4: Biodiversity and Food Supply

Issue 5: Corporate Environmental and Human Rights Responsibility

Issue 6: Rights and Property Paradigms

Issue 7: Human Bodies in Material Space


Submissions are welcome from a range of theoretical perspectives, viewpoints and disciplines. Applications for reviewers for the journal are also encouraged. Send submissions and applications to Anna Grear ( or Karen Morrow ( Send book review submissions to Ben Richardson (

9. Call for Papers: “Converging Technologies, Changing Societies” 

The 16th International Conference of the Society for Philosophy and Technology will be held July 8-10, 2009 at the University of Twente in The Netherlands ( The overall theme is “Converging Technologies, Changing Societies,” but will include a track specifically on environmental philosophy. The description is as follows:


Environmental Philosophy and Sustainable Technology”

Chair: Andrew Light


While environmental philosophy and philosophy of technology share some common sources and evolved at roughly the same time as philosophical subfields, with notable exceptions, the two have developed largely in isolation from each other. These diverging paths are unfortunate given the ample overlap between questions concerning technological development and environmental protection. This track welcomes papers and presentations offering philosophical reflection on any topic at the intersection of technology and the environment but with an emphasis on how the resources of one may illuminate the other. Possible topics include:

*  New energy technologies and solutions to climate change.

*  Old energy technologies and responsibilities for climate change.

*  Forecasting scenarios for carbon neutral economies.

*  Extrinsic concerns (e.g., human health and environmental risks) about energy and environmental technologies.

*  Intrinsic concerns (e.g., naturalness worries) about energy and environmental technologies.

*  Technology and sustainable development.

*  Normative implications of technologies of sustainable development.

*  Techniques of environmental risk assessment.

*  Comparative applications of precautionary principles.

*  Environmental ethics of technology assessment.

*  Ethical issues in technology transfer.

Papers will be accepted on the basis of a submitted abstract, which will be refereed. An abstract must be between 500 and 750 words in length (references excluded) and submitted via email ( as embedded plain text or an attachment in RTF or WORD (no docx) or PDF format. It should also contain the name and number of the track to which the abstract is submitted. Abstracts must be submitted no later than January 5, 2009. Authors will be informed of the decision of the referees by March 2, 2009.


We will also accept proposals for panel discussions, also to be submitted by January 5, 2009. Panel proposals must include a statement of the general topic and an overview of the specific questions or issues to be addressed. In addition, the proposal should include a list of the panelists involved, their expertise in this area, and whether they have indicated that they are willing to participate.



10. Worldviews and Other Journals


Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology
This journal 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; 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.

To receive a free sample copy of Worldviews, please send an email to

For more information, visit:


For more information on other journals related to religion and ecology and to environmental ethics/philosophy visit: If you know of a publication that needs to be added to this list, please send an email to: