Religion, Science and Ecology
The realization of grave environmental crisis affecting today’s globalized world prompted the invention of the new term “Anthropocene”, which serves as the context of this study: human actions have affected the world in a new scale that was unimaginable before. The crisis has been conceived not only in technical or scientific terms, but also as a moral and spiritual crisis and as such it creates a nexus between religion and ecology. However, the relations between the two go in both directions: it is not only about how religion responds to the ecological crisis, but also how the crisis affects religions and the way we think about it. Just as modernization has stimulated the re-thinking of religion, the new ecological awareness has the potential to, in Bruno Latour’s term, ‘ecologise’ religion. While the environmental crisis is of a global scale, we will look at its local manifestations. This class attempts to combine theories and case studies. We will take up case studies to understand some key concepts in religion and ecology, such as place, environmental and eco-justice, sustainability, climate change, etc. Students are encouraged to be active in bringing up local manifestations of the nexus between religion and environment. Beyond the particular problem of environmental crisis, this course also serves to introduce the students to understand the engagement of religion with contemporary issues in general. This includes understanding the story of how modern cosmology contests sacred cosmology espoused by religions as well as the story of globalization as the context of many current problems (economic, political, social, environmental).