Forum on Religion and Ecology
The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale is the largest international multireligious project of its kind. With its conferences, publications, and website it is engaged in exploring religious worldviews, texts, and ethics in order to broaden understanding of the complex nature of current environmental concerns. The Forum recognizes that religions need to be in dialogue with other disciplines (e.g., science, ethics, economics, education, public policy, gender studies) in seeking comprehensive solutions to both global and local environmental problems. The Forum arose from a series of ten conferences on the world’s religions and ecology held at Harvard, which resulted in ten volumes distributed by Harvard University Press.
The work of the Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale includes:
Joint Master’s Degree Program
The Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies (FES) and Yale Divinity School (YDS) offer a joint Masters degree program in religion and ecology. It is aimed at students who wish to integrate the study of environmental issues and religious communities in their professional careers and for those who wish to study the cultural and ethical dimensions of environmental problems. The joint degree is strongly supported by co-appointed faculty and by the Forum.
This degree program provides an opportunity to study in two independent schools at Yale University, each with their own integrity. Students work towards both a Masters of Environmental Management at FES and either a Master of Arts in Religion or Masters of Divinity at YDS. Within these schools, they are encouraged to take courses in environmental ethics and religion and ecology. Students have the opportunity to work with faculty in both schools, as well as with a number of co-appointed faculty members.
This joint degree in religion and ecology is the first program of its kind in North America. It aims to attract students to a growing field of study with far reaching implications for the future of the Earth community. Our work with the Bioethics Center at Yale enhances the degree program.
The Forum has helped to create a new field of research and teaching in religion and ecology that has implications for environmental policy.
- With its scholarly network it published the 10 volume World Religions and Ecology Series from Harvard.
- It has supported the first journal in the field: Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology.
- It produced a volume of Daedalus entitled “Religion and Ecology: Can the Climate Change?”
- The Forum’s founders have also served as editors for the 20 volume Ecology and Justice Series from Orbis Books.
- The encyclopedia, The Spirit of Sustainability (Berkshire Publishers, September 2009) edited by Willis Jenkins of Yale Divinity School and Whitney Bauman of Florida International University was also a project of the Forum.
- The Forum has also edited a number of volumes by the late cultural historian, Thomas Berry: The Sacred Universe (Columbia University Press, 2009), The Christian Future and the Fate of Earth (Orbis Books, 2009); Evening Thoughts (Sierra Club Books, 2006); The Great Work (Random House, 1999).
The Forum has organized many conferences, the including Renewing Hope: Pathways of Grassroots Religious Environmentalism (Yale Divinity School, Spring 2007), The Forum on Religion and Ecology at Yale 10th Anniversary Symposium (Yale Club of New York City, Fall 2008), Thomas Berry Memorial (Cathedral of St. John the Divine, New York City, Fall 2009). The forum co-sponsored the Yale conference, (Dis)locations: Environmental Justice and Climate Change (Yale University, Spring 2010). The Forum has also assisted in organizing the Thomas Berry Award and Lecture since 1998.
In addition, the Forum participates in interdisciplinary conferences, both national and international, that are policy oriented. These include conferences with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN); the Dialogue of Civilizations; the Earth Dialogues led by Gorbachev the Earth Charter; the Religion, Science, and the Environment Symposia, led by the Greek Orthodox Patriarch, Bartholomew; and the Parliament of World Religions.
The Forum’s website is a premiere website for research, education, engagement, and outreach in the field of religion and ecology. The website contains detailed information on the religious traditions of the world and their ecological contributions including: introductory essays, annotated bibliographies, selections from sacred texts, environmental statements from religious communities, and engaged projects of religious grassroots environmental movements. To facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue, there are resources that address environmental issues related to ethics, economics, policy, gender, and evolutionary and ecological sciences. To enhance teaching, the website includes syllabi, lists of educational videos and CD-ROMs, links to programs and institutions related to environmental education, and a variety of other resources for educators. The website provides current information on news, publications, and events related to religion and ecology. This information is also available in a monthly e-newsletter, which you can sign up to receive by clicking here.
The Forum was a principal advisor for the film Renewal: Inspiring Stories from America’s Religious Environmental Movement. We organized a conference at Yale for its premiere in 2007. We are currently working on a major film project entitled Journey of the Universe with Brian Swimme, directed by David Kennard (director of the Cosmos series with Carl Sagan). The project will include a film, book, educational materials and website.