Religion and the Environment

How do religious traditions envision our place vis-à-vis nature? What do their ethical teachings have to say about our responsibility towards the natural environment, and our proper relationship with our non-human neighbors? In what ways can religious rituals and spiritual practices encourage appreciation of nature as well as raise our awareness of the enormity of the ongoing environmental sacrilege? What kind of work is being done by religiously affiliated environmental activists and groups, and how do their spiritual commitments inform their vision of eco-justice? This course attempts to answer these and related questions through a close reading and discussion of a wide range of sources from multiple religious traditions including Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, and the indigenous traditions of the Americas. By looking at these traditions’ foundational texts, writings by contemporary eco-theologians and activists, scholarly and media accounts, and traditional as well as newly emerging ecological symbols and rituals, we will examine diverse ways in which religious practitioners reassess, reinterpret, and expand their traditions to meet the urgent challenge of environmental crisis.