Religion and Ecology Group
American Academy of Religion

The Religion and Ecology Group of the American Academy of Religion formed in 1991 and since then has been an important venue in the United States (with participation from many scholars from other countries) for exploring the complex relationships between environmental systems and social phenomena understood, in various ways, as 'religion.'

In 2006 The International Society for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture was founded, which includes a similar focus but tackles a wider range of issues related to the religion and nature nexus. The society's affiliated Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture has been published quarterly since 2007. Interested scholars are cordially invited to join the society and submit their scholarly work to its journal.

This url origionally was a site for the AAR's Religion and Ecology group. For some history of the group a good place to start is with its 1998 Program Review, which was submitted the American Academy of Religion and led to five year renewal of the group. 

In October 2004 the group submitted its Five Year Report for Group RenewalDr. Harold Coward provided the external review in November 2004, and in December, the Group received a strong endorsement from the AAR program committee as it extended the group's mandate for another five-year term. In 2009 the group was renewed again. 

Below are provide links to some sessions organized by the Religion and Ecology Group through 2003, with the sessions in 2004 and 2005 not summarized. RN.com webmaster Bron Taylor will be happy to update subsequent sessions if current group leaders provide the information.


1991 - KANSAS CITY


Religion and Ecology Consultation (inaugural year)

Theme: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Ecology
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emory University, Presiding

Lynn Ross-Bryant, University of Colorado, Boulder
Living with the Land: Nature and Religion in America

William C. French, Loyola University Chicago
Questioning Deep Ecology and the Critique of Hierarchy

Laurel D. Kearns, Emory University
Saving the Creation: Stewardship Theology and Creation Spirituality

Nancy R. Howell, Pacific Lutheran University
Living with the Matrix, an Ecofeminist Alternative to Hierarchy

Respondents:
Catherine Keller, Drew University
David Barnhill, Guilford College

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1992 - SAN FRANCISCO

Theme: Gaia and God: Responses to Rosemary Radford Ruether's New Book
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emory University, Presiding

Introduction: Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Respondents:
John B. Cobb, Jr., Claremont Graduate School
Charlene Spretnak, Moss Beach, California
Carol J. Adams, Richardson, Texas
Response: Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

 

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1993 - WASHINGTON, D.C.

Religion and Ecology Group (inaugural year)

Theme: Eco-spirituality
Carol J. Adams, Richardson, Texas, Presiding

Lynda Sexson, Montana State University
Narratives of "Nature": Anima, Animation, Anomaly, Animalogy

Richard Louis Fern, Yale University
For the Love of Nature: From Stewardship to Fellowship

Roger S. Gottlieb, Worchester Polytechnic Institute
Deep Ecology, Social Oppression and Spiritual Life

Sharon V. Betcher, Drew University
Into the Watery Depths: An Eco-feminist Account of the Value of "Wetlands"

Theme: Thomas Berry and Sallie McFague: Ecological Visions
Thomas Dean, Temple University, Japan, Presiding

Sallie McFague, Vanderbilt University, Author of The Body of God, 
Introductory Remarks

Respondents:
Jay B. McDaniel. Hendrix College
Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual

Thomas Berry, Riverdale Center of Religious Research, Co-author (with Brian Swimme) of Universe Story 
Introductory Remarks 

Respondents:
Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emory University

 

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1994 - CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

Theme: Places: Sacred and Secular, Destructive and Empowering
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emory University, Presiding

Michael J. Christensen, Drew University
The Meaning of Chernobyl: Assessing the Psychosocial and Spiritual Impact of the World's Worst Nuclear Disaster

Belden C. Lane, Saint Louis University
Toward a Definition and Taxonomy of American Sacred Places: Asking Preliminary Environmental Questions

Bron Taylor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Environmental Paganism and the Resacralization of Turtle Island

Judith N. Scoville, Graduate Theological Union 
Valuing the Land: Ecological Theology in the Context of Agriculture

Business Meeting
Eugene C. Bianchi, Emory University, Presiding

Theme: Religious Dimensions of Ecological Concern in South Asia
Christopher Key Chapple, Loyola Marymount University, Presiding

Harold Coward, University of Victoria
The Implications of Karma Theory for Environmental Ethics

Lance E. Nelson, University of San Diego
Seeing the World as Crow Excrement: Advaita Vedanta and the Irrelevance of Nature

Bruce M. Sullivan, Northern Arizona University
Paradise Polluted: Religious Dimensions of the Vrndavana Ecology Movement

Ann Grodzins Gold, Syracuse University
Sin and Rain: Moral Ecology in Rural India

Respondent: 
David R. Kinsley, McMaster University

 

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1995 - PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA

Theme: Defending Livelihoods: Religious Movements toward Ecological Justice [With contributors to Ecological Resistance Movements: The Global Emergence of Radical and Popular Environmentalism (edited by Bron Taylor)]
Donald M. Braxton, Capital University, Presiding

Panelists: 
Vikram K. Akula, Osmania University, Hyderabad
Bob Edwards, Ohio State University
Heidi Hadsell, McCormick Theological Seminary
Lois Ann Lorentzen, University of San Francisco
Bron Raymond Taylor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Dan Deudney, University of Pennsylvania

Respondents:
Anna L. Peterson, University of Florida
Roger S. Gottlieb, Worster Polytechnic Institute

Theme: Ecological Challenges: The Problem of Evil in Comparative Perspective
Rachel Fell McDermott, Barnard College, and Anthony B. Pinn, Macalester College, Presiding

Panelists:
Michael Berenbaum, Washington, DC
William R. Jones, Florida State University
Jay McDaniel, Hendrix College
Terrence Tilley, University of Dayton
David R. Kinsley, McMaster University
Irene T. Bloom, Barnard College
Cheryl A. Kirk-Duggan, Meredith College

Business Meeting
Carol J. Adams, Richardson, Texas, and David Landis Barnhill, Guilford College, Presiding

 

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1996 - NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA

Theme: Responses to J. Baird Callicott's Earth Insights
Steven C. Rockefeller, Middlebury College, Presiding

Panelists:
Heather Eaton, University of St. Michael's College, Toronto School of Theology
John A. Grim, Bucknell University
William R. LaFleur, University of Pennsylvania
Lois Ann Lorentzen, University of San Francisco
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
Bron R. Taylor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University 

Respondent:
J. Baird Callicott, University of North Texas

Theme: Post-Holocaust and Post-Gulag Religious Experience
Eugene E. Lemcio, Seattle Pacific University, Presiding

Panelists: 
David Abram, Santa Fe, NM
David Landis Barnhill, Guilford College
John B. Cobb, Jr., Claremont Graduate School
Roger S. Gottlieb, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
David Kinsley, McMaster University
Ines M. Talamantez, University of California, Santa Barbara
Michael E. Zimmerman, Tulane University

Business Meeting
David Landis Barnhill, Guilford College, and Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont, Presiding

 

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1997 - SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

Theme: American Nature and Science Writers: Affinities with the Natural World
Leslie D. Alldritt, Northland College, Presiding

Steven J. Holmes, Harvard University
John Muir and the Religious Vision of Nature as Home

Russell A. Butkus, University of Portland
John Muir, A Theological Portrait

Charles R. Strain, DePaul University
The Pacific Buddha's Wild Practice: Gary Snyder's Environmental Ethic

Kimberly Whitney, Graduate Theological Union
Pariah's Voice? Eco-religious Implications of Barbara McClintock's Scientific Affect

Douglas Burton-Christie, Loyola Marymount University
The Palpable Holy: Pattiann Rogers's Theopoetics

Theme: Brain Swimme's The Hidden Heart of the Cosmos, Review and Response
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University, Presiding

Panelists: 
John B. Cobb, Claremont Graduate School
Heather Eaton, University of St. Michael's College
Philip Hefner, Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary

Respondent:
Brain Swimme, California Institute of Integral Studies

 

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1998 - ORLANDO, FLORIDA

Theme: Bioregionalism and the Spirituality of Food and Place
Judith N. Scoville, United Theological Seminary, Minneapolis, Presiding

Bron R. Taylor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh
Countercultural Bioregionalism: From Spiritual Roots to the Transformation of Resource Regimes

Sarah McFarland Taylor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Rooting Religion in the Land: Food and Faith at Genesis Farm

Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University
Ecological Location, Bioregionalism, and Food: Community Supported Agriculture as a Case Study for an Ethic of Food and Peace

Susan Power Bratton, Whitworth College
Religion and Ethics of Commercial Fishing in Ireland and the Pacific Northwest Region of the United States

James W. Perkinson, University of Chicago
Between "Urb" and Herb: On the Necessity of Postcolonial Politics for Bioregional Spirituality

Respondent:
Frieda Knobloch, University of Wyoming 

Theme: Eco-feminism and Globalization
M. Susan Harlow, Meadville Lombard Theological School, Presiding

Panelists:
Lois Ann Loerntzen, University of San Francisco
Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont
Heather Eaton, St. Paul University
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary

Business Meeting
Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont, and Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University, Presiding

 

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1999 - BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS

Theme: Thomas Berry's The Great Work, Review and Response from Religious and Scientific Perspectives
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University, Presiding

Panelists:
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary
Larry Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary, New York
Robert C. Neville, Boston University
Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont
Ursula Goodenough, Washington University

Respondent:
Thomas Berry, Fordham University

Theme: Race, Religion, Population, and Environmental Justice
James Martin-Schramm, Luther College, Presiding

Laurel D. Kearns, Drew University
Justice for All: U.S. Religious Involvement in the Environmental Justice Movement

Susan Power Bratton, Whitworth College
Ignoring Environmental Anti-Judaism: Luc Ferry's Critique of Nazi Environmental Philosophy

William C. French, Loyola University, Chicago
Population Growth, Catholicism, and Ecological Laws

Daniel McFee, Marquette University
Maybe Only One?: Bill McKibben's Arguments on the Population Crisis

Andrea Smith, University of California, Santa Cruz
Religion, Race, and the Population Paradigm

Business Meeting
Stephanie Kaza, University of Vermont, and Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University, Presiding

 

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2000 - NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE

Religion and Ecology Group and Religion in Latin America and the Caribbean Group

Theme: An Ecology for the Third Millennium
Beth Blissman, Oberlin College, Presiding

Shelini Harris, Emory University
Multinationals, Mal-development, and the Erosion of Environmental Justice for the Poor of the Earth

Joerg Rieger, Southern Methodist University
Re-envisioning Ecology and the Divine from the Margins

Iain S. Maclean, James Madison University
Holism: An Ecological Paradigm for Liberation? The Ecological Theology of Leonardo Boff

David J. Wellman, Union Theological Seminary, NY
Ecological Location and Muslim-Christian Dialogue; Identifying Tools for Exploring the Modern Landscape of Moroccan -Spanish Relations

Catherine Roach, University of Alabama
Fantasies of Aseity: Religion and Nature Imagery in American Advertising

Theme: Jews, Gender, and Ecology
Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University, Presiding

Panelists:
Irene Diamond, University of Oregon
Roger S. Gottlieb, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Fern Feldman, Aleph Alliance for Jewish Renewal
Shifra Penzias, Brandeis University
Natan Margalit, University of California, Berkeley
David Seidenberg, Jewish Theological Seminary

Theme: Biotechnology, Agriculture, and Genetic Engineering
Lois Ann Lorentzen, University of San Francisco, Presiding

Heather Eaton, St. Paul University
Naturally Ambivalent: Biotechnology and Theological Ethics

Judith N. Scoville, Northland College
Do Christian have a Moral Obligation to Support Agricultural Biotechnology?

Nicole Roskos, Drew University
Genesis, Generations, and Genetically Engineered Plants: Defending or Ending Generations, and the Protest against the Multinational Corporate Monopoly

Carol Manahan, Graduate Theological Union
Genetic Engineering and Agricultural Intensification: Profits versus Prophets

Sarah McFarland Taylor, Northwestern University
Safeguarding the Story in the Seed: Religious Women Providing Genetic Sanctuaries in Defiance of Bioserfdom and Terminator Technologies

Business Meeting
Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University, and Heather Eaton, St. Paul University, Presiding

 

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2001 - DENVER, COLORADO

Theme: World Religions and Ecology: The Harvard Book Series and Beyond
Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University, Presiding

Panelists: 
David L. Haberman, Indiana University, Bloomington
Christopher Chapple, Loyola Marymount University
Kenneth L. Kraft, Lehigh University
Norman J. Girardot, Lehigh University
Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, Arizona State University
Rosemary Radford Ruether, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary
John A. Grim, Bucknell University

Responding:
Bron R. Taylor, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh

Theme: An Unspoken Hunger: Landscape, Literature, and Lust
Heather Eaton, St. Paul University, Presiding

Sarah M. Taylor, Northwestern University
Land as Lover: Mormon Eco-Eroticism and Planetary Polyamory in the Work of Terry Tempest Williams

Mark S. Cladis, Vassar College
A Sense of Place and the Place of the Wild: Terry Tempest Williams and the Erotics of Place

Daniel T. Spencer, Drake University and Ann M. Pederson, Augustana College
Refuge of Refugee: Teaching Terry Tempest Williams' Refuge as a Case Study in Social, Cultural, and Theological Location

Marquerite Rigoglioso, California Institute of Integral Studies
The Rape of the Lake: A Study of the Spiritual and Environmental History of Lake Pergusa, Sicily

Maria Jansdotter, Karlstad University
An Ecoreligious Perspective in a Secularized Nordic Context

Mary Grey, Sarum College, University of Whales
Gender and Poverty in Drought-Stricken Rajasthan: Seeking the Dying Wisdom

Business Meeting
Heather Eaton, University of Ottawa, and Sarah M. Taylor, Northwestern University, Presiding

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2002 - TORONTO, CANADA

Religion and Ecology Group and Religion and Science Group

Theme: From Ecosystems to Outer Space: Exploring the Connections among Religion, Science, and Ecology
Sarah McFarland Taylor, Northwest University, Presiding

James Proctor, University of California, Santa Barbara
American Environmentalism: Science or Religion?

Susan Power Bratton, Baylor University
The Precautionary Principle and the Biblical Wisdom Literature: Toward an Ethic of Ecological Prudence in Ocean Management

Beth Blissman, Oberlin College
From Theory to Pedagogy: Engaging Science, Religion and Ecosocial Location

Lee W. Bailey, Ithaca College
Spaceship Epiphanies and Cosmologies

Responding:
Lisle Dalton, Hartwick College

Business Meeting:
Sarah McFarland Taylor, Northwestern University, and Bron Taylor, University of Florida, Presiding

Theme: People Shaping Place and Place Shaping People: Sacred Geography and the new Eco-Anthropology
Bron Taylor, University of Florida, Presiding

Gustavo Benavides, Villanova University
Meaning People: Cognition, and the Recalcitrance of the World

Nancy McCagney, University of California, Santa Barbara
Sacred Places, The Interplay of Religion, Environment, and Climate in Ancient Times

Prabha C. Reddy, Northwestern University
Sanctifying the Earthly and Cosmic Bodies of Siva in the Land of Srisailam: An Ecoreligious Study

Responding:
Anna Peterson, University of Florida

Theme: Engaged Research: Critical Reflections on Religion, Ecology, and the Scholar-Activist
Adrian Ivakhiv, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Presiding

Laurel D. Kearns, Drew University 
Activism Is What We Do Everyday

Whitney Bauman, Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences 
At the Intersection of Advocacy and Academics: Green Studies at the Graduate Theological Union

Laura Hobgood-Oster, Southwestern University
Chemistry, Religion, Water, and Ecojustice

Barbara Jane Davy, Concordia University
Being at Home with Oneself in Daki Menan

Responding:
Lois Lorentzen, University of San Francisco

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2003 Ė ATLANTA, GEORGIA
 
Theme:  Religion and United Nations Sustainability Politics:  From Rio to Johannesburg and Beyond

Heidi Hadsell, Hartford Seminary, Presiding

 

Rick Clugston, Center for Respect of Life and Environment, Washington, DC

The Earth Charter:  Past Challenges and Future Prospects

 

Heather Eaton, Saint Paul University

Religion and Ethics at the United Nationís Earth Summit in Rio, 1992

 

Bron Taylor, University of Florida

Religion and Ethics at the United Nationís Sponsored World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, 2002

 

Mary Evelyn Tucker, Bucknell University

The Search for Viable Global Ethics in and around the United Nations

 

Respondent:

Gary Gardner, Worldwatch Institute, Washington, DC

 

Theme:  Religion and Conservation in Place

 

Roger S. Gottlieb, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Presiding

 

Anne M. Daniell, Drew University

Theology for an Estuary Community:  How a Theology of Liminality Can Address the Pontchartrain Basin and Its Constitutive Communities

 

Elizabeth Gaines, Taimen Conservation Fund, Livingston, MT

Buddhism and Conservation:  A Case Study in Restoring Buddhism and Taimen in Mongolia

 

Jill DeTemple, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Whole Person Theology, Whole Earth Ecology:  Religion, Development, and the Environment in Rural Ecuador

 

Nicole Roskos, Drew University

For the Love of Trees and Pagans:  The Decimation of Sacred Groves in Christian History and Its Appropriation by Contemporary Anti-environmentalism

 

Business Meeting:

Bron Taylor, University of Florida, and Christopher Chapple, Loyola Marymount University, Presiding

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