Part of the 2012 Sustainability Lecture Series
Social Ecology Doctoral Program at the University of California, Irvine
Researchers do not commonly characterize the relationship between sustainability and religion as particularly positive; however, closer study reveals a far more complicated relationship between the two. As the specific goal of achieving environmental sustainability is often addressed purely by technological, economic, and efficiency-oriented solutions, this lecture will focus on an area given comparatively little attention: the overlap between religious experiences and environmental sustainability. In solutions-based discussions, this overlap plays are surprisingly small role, especially given the common action item that concludes nearly every environmental conversation: “we need to change people’s values; we need to change culture.” When paired alongside the similarly-common narrative that value-based institutions (religions) are incompatible with environmentalism, we are left with quite a gap to close. This lecture will explore the relationship between sustainability and the history, practices, and sacred texts of major world religions to ask the question: How can these theologies, concepts, and experiences be leveraged to strengthen the relationship between religion and sustainability?