Carrie B. Dohe
Philips’-University, University of Marburg
Norwegian University of Life Science
Max-Planck-Insitute in Cologne,
University of Lausanne
University of Exeter
Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Australian National University
Arizona State University
University of Fribourg
University of Strasbourg
University of Nigeria
Charel du ToitUniversity of Pretoria
Global Religious Environmental Activism: Emerging Conflicts and Tensions in Earth Stewardship
The anthology "Global Religious Environmental Activism: Emerging Conflicts and Tensions in Earth Stewardship" provides an essential output of our project. This is the result of a close exchange with the various authors. In addition to the publication itself, an internal workshop and a public conference will be organized.
Against the background of the increasing environmental commitment of religious and spiritual actors, we present a selection of empirically founded case studies on religious environmental commitment. If one examines the tensions of this commitment, it becomes clear that the relationship between religion and the environment is more complex than often assumed.
By revealing the tensions, a more nuanced picture of religious environmental commitment is drawn. Religion is neither irrelevant nor a simple and uncomplicated means against environmental crises. Like other types of environmental commitment, religious environmental commitment is also subject to tension: It encounters resistance, limits and conflicts. These tensions sometimes lie within the religious organizations themselves, as existing hierarchies, counter-movements, competing theological schools or simply the lack of financial resources hinder internal transformations and destroy the prospects of a smooth religious greening process. In other cases, rivalries between different religious traditions, the resistance of non-religious actors, the inflexibility of secular institutions, or the marginalization of religion thwart the influence of religious environmental engagement. Tensions manifest themselves on three different levels:
a) Within religious traditions/communities: as tensions between words/ethical teachings and deeds; between different interpretations and groups within the given religious tradition; between structures and individual ambitions.
b) Between religious traditions/communities: as competition and struggle for legitimacy, visibility and authenticity between different religious groups; as differences in the environmental emphases on which religious communities rely.
c) Between religious traditions/communities and society: as social barriers that limit the implementation of religious environmental engagement; as struggles between religious and non-religious actors in shaping climate policy; as stigmatization of religion among environmental groups and demands for secular argumentation; as entanglement with political struggles.
In the planned anthology, these tensions will be dealt with by various authors using empirical case studies.
This was and is done in close cooperation. An intern workshop took place in November 2018; a public conference in May 2019.
Conference: "Religious Environmentalism: A Field of Tensions"
The international and public conference took place from 22 to 24 May at the University of Basel.
On Wednesday, 22 May, the focus was on internal religious tensions. From 2 a.m. to 6 p.m., four lectures dealt with various case studies. In the evening there was a panel discussion on climate strike and what role religion plays in it.
On Thursday, 23 May, four lectures on the tensions between two religions and society took place.
On Friday, 24 May, two lectures were devoted to interreligious tensions. At the end there was a final discussion.
Further information and the program can be found here.
Penal Debate: "Climatestrike! Does Religion Matter?
A panel discussion took place during the conference. This was organized by the project staff (and students of the Religion, Economics and Politics Master's program). The climate strikes and the questions which roles religion can play here were discussed.
Further information can be found here.
Workshop: "Religion in Environmental Change: Empirical Insights"
On November 15 and 16 we held our workshop "Religion in Environmental Change: Empirical Insights". This was the prelude to the anthology that we will publish. In this first step, researchers from different countries came together to discuss the topic of "Religion and the Environment" empirically. The first ideas and concepts were presented and discussed. These included questions such as how religious actors contribute to international environmental policy or how cooperation between states and religions on specific energy issues develops. At the local level, research was carried out into what religious actors do in the environmental field, how the commitment and any differences between religions can be explained, and what forms of cooperation can be found. A further insight was provided by the "spiritual" perspective or the view of anthroposophical/biodynamic aspects in agriculture. It was also discussed, which common orientation one wants to grasp with regard to the Buck - thus the focus on different forms of tension resulted after this workshop.